One of the issues with annexation of land is the relationship created – or broken – between the City of Stuart, Martin County, and the Department of Transportation when it comes to traffic.
Annexation is the process by which a landowner or developer can submit an application along with a fee to the City of Stuart to basically remove their project from Martin County and its guidelines to the City of Stuart for development. The City Commission votes to receive the land, thus allowing for the developer to build under the City’s requirements versus the County’s. The benefits to the developer are greater density, a greater number or stories, greater height, and less buffers including the proximity to water.
The benefit to the City’s citizens? That’s up for debate. But one thing from which we will not benefit is traffic.
To demonstrate how absurd annexation can be, let’s review Bridgeview.
When the land was in Martin County only, the land was originally approved for a medical complex. There would still be considerable traffic but it would be, in theory, limited to Monday through Friday and during business hours. The then-landowner, to make the land more appealing to a developer, opted to submit an application for annexation. The land was annexed to the City of Stuart and approved for a residential development of 212 units.
Instead of two stories the buildings will now be four. Instead of being a maximum of 40 feet tall, the buildings can now be 45 feet tall. Instead of being a required 30 feet from the water, the land could be as close as 15 feet.
And then there is the traffic created as a result of this approval.
With the approval of this project, the Commission also by default approved the traffic that will be a part of this development including the one egress that allows for traffic to enter and exit.
The egress that was presented to the Commission and approved was literally in the middle of the turn lane.
When asked about this, the City of Stuart Development Department staff basically stated the traffic is now under the purview of the Department of Transportation. But the City of Stuart is in Martin County so, surely, the County must have some say on the egress and traffic. We were advised the following:
“Unfortunately, Martin County has no jurisdiction over the approval of projects in the City. We typically review projects in the City if they are adjacent to a County roadway or if the stormwater runoff is discharged into a County facility. When projects are proposed that connect to a County roadway or drainage facility, we are able to establish allowable locations and configurations of driveways and the allowable discharge rate. We do not have the authority to direct the City regarding the type, intensity, impact to wetlands, buffers, parking areas, or configuration of the on-site development.”Lisa A. Wichser, P.E., CFM, County Engineer
Public Works Department, Martin County Board of County Commissioners
So we again reached out the Florida DOT. We were finally able to connect with Dalila Fernandez, Traffic Consultant at the Florida DOT. She shared a schematic that the showed the egress was moved just north of where the turn lane “officially” starts. That’s helpful but that far from addresses the fact that those same 212 units full of people will still be coming and going from the development. The same 212 units of people of will be competing with traffic from Cabana Point and Riverland and from everyone else travelling west on Kanner.
And when you consider that the Kanner CPUD could be approved at a projected 376 units, using the range of 1.6 to 1.8 industry standard of cars per unit, that is an anticipated average of about 1,000 new cars accessing approximately 1-mile of Kanner Highway. That does not take in to consideration the myriad of other developments approved by the City or the County or those of us who already live here.
1,000 new cars in a 1-mile stretch.
On a highway.
That’s an evacuation route.
And the City approved it. The County has no say. And the DOT can only review it and make suggestions.
The City approved it.
The ownership of this mess compounded by what else is happening here… This decision and impact lie with the City.