Sale of surplus Suntree-area land nixed by Brevard County Commission


Eric Enrique and daughters Emi and Eleyna thank Dist. 4 County Commissioner Curt Smith for voting down the sale of surplus county land in their community slated for residential development.

Photo by Linda Wiggins

In a surprise reversal, the Brevard County commission voted unanimously against selling surplus land it owns in the Suntree area that might have been home to at least 100 new families with access in and out through the Springs of Suntree neighborhood.

“I have to admit I came here prepared to support this,” District 1 Commissioner and Chairman Robin Fisher said to about 150 residents at the July 7 meeting,

“But you're bigger than the $2 million we would have got from the sale,” he said, reading some of the names of the 30 residents who filled out a card to speak in opposition. “Quality of life has to be considered as a factor when we are also trying to make sound business decisions.”

Dist. 4 Commissioner Curt Smith, who lives along the Indian River Lagoon near Post Road in the same district as the proposed development, acknowledged that the 114 acres under consideration had been historically plotted for residential development, and that what looks like a vacant lot along Rock Springs Drive was plotted for a street. However, it had become all but forgotten as the Springs of Suntree essentially landlocked it in.

“It's a case of trying to put your underwear on after you've got your pants on,” he said, seconding Dist. 3 Commissioner Trudie Infantini's motion to decline plans for the land sale.

The area is north of Spyglass Hill Road, behind Suntree's Devons Glen neighborhood ― which has a secondary access road to the property for emergency use only. The land most recently had been planned for rapid-underground disbursement of reclaimed water during times when supply exceeded demand for irrigation of Suntree golf courses and communities. It was declared surplus by the Brevard County Utilities Department and added to the county general fund in January.

Residential development might add to flooding troubles in the area with increased runoff, a number of residents said. Several suggested the best use of the land is to retain it so as not to impact flood control while allowing it to remain a home for more than 400 documented endangered gopher tortoises, which would have cost $400,000 to relocate.

“Who's going to stand up for them?” asked Emi Enrique, the teenager joining her father, Eric, at the podium as he protested what he said would be the destruction of the quiet street and route to the community's focal-point Springs of Suntree clubhouse and playground. She added that a documented bald eagle living in the adjacent wetlands preserve frequently uses the area to hunt.

Many residents pointed out that congested traffic flow out of Springs of Suntree onto Holiday Springs Road north onto Viera Boulevard would snarl an already jammed intersection ― planned for improvement by the Viera Company in 2017 ― as they attempted to access U.S. 1 to the north.

The County Commission will study the best use of the land, with District 2 Commissioner Jim Barfield inviting residents to serve on the search committee. If it were to be a nature area, all residents in the county would need access, Dist. 5 Commissioner Andy Anderson said.

“You have to realize that whatever use we settle on, public access will still be required.”

For more information, contact Commissioner Smith's aide Pat Woodard at 321-633-2044

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