County OKs Viera Company’s request for more homes, fewer offices


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Viera Company planner Todd Pokrywa told Brevard County Commissioners July 21 that nearly one job per household has been created in Viera and asked to build more homes and less office space.

photos by Mike Gaffey

With little discussion, Brevard County commissioners July 21 unanimously approved The Viera Company’s request to allow more houses to be built in the rapidly growing community while reducing the amount of buildable office space.

The company had proposed an amendment to its county-approved master plan that would permit 800 additional units of detached senior housing, 150 additional units of attached senior housing, 468 additional units of detached single-family homes, 256 additional units of multi-family housing and eight extra hotel rooms. In exchange, the amendment would shrink general office space that can be built by nearly 400,000 square feet.

Todd Pokrywa, senior vice president of land use, planning, and development for The Viera Company, said the master plan needs to be amended to keep pace with rising demand for housing in the community. The request conforms with the development order and has been reviewed without objections by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Regional Planning Council and Brevard County staff. On Monday, the Brevard County Local Planning Agency also supported the request, Pokrywa added.   

“The request will help facilitate land that is currently under contract and provide additional housing types such as another active adult community or some market-rate apartment communities,” Pokrywa said.

Viera already is home to about 300 businesses that represent more than 9,000 jobs, Pokrywa said. “Nearly one job per household has been generated in Viera,” he said.
The exchange does not increase traffic, reduce any open space or impact any conservation areas, Pokrywa added.

Two people spoke against the exchange. Ronda Witt of Viera expressed concern about tax differences between businesses and homes, the added impact on schools, extra traffic and a potential loss of jobs from a reduction of business space.

“I can understand why real estate agents want more houses, but more isn’t always better,” she said. “Brevard wants to develop but I think we need to develop wisely, and increased demand shouldn’t always immediately, without a lot of foresight and study, be recommended.”  Ronda Witt of Viera spoke out against The Viera Company's request to build more homes and less office space because it could overburden schools and other residential infrastructure.

Bob Goldstein of Heritage Isle surmised that fewer residents opposed to the exchange attended today’s meeting because planning agency members ignored their opinions on Monday. “We felt it was preordained and they were going to get what they want and that’s the end of it,” he said.

Goldstein, who owned his own business for 38 years, said it was a mistake to reduce the amount of space available for small businesses. “We need to think about businesses outside just real estate,” he said. “That’s not the only business in America. We need to think about small business, medium business, large business. It would be nice to get some industrial business in here because that’s who employs people and that’s who pays a lot of money in taxes. We’re never going to get the same amount of money out of homes than we do out of businesses.”

Pokrywa said he was pleased with the 5-0 vote. 

“The commission understands that the market is dynamic, and our development order was crafted in such a way that it gave us the ability to make those changes in response to the market, but coming back to them so that they’re advised as to what those changes are,” he said.
 

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