Why are we so angry you ask? The real question should be why aren’t you angry? Because you should be.
The ease in which a property owner can annex their land. The ease with which the development staff can ask for and justify a change in the Future Land Use and zoning. The amount of variances requested and allowed. The bastardization of a comprehensive plan to suit each and every builder… Yes, we are mad.
Let’s start with something easy. Let’s start with Bridgeview. Where Bridgeview is going on Kanner at the base of the Veterans Memorial Bridge is basically the northern part of the Kiplinger preserve. Martin County approved a 99,000 square-foot medical complex directly across from Cleveland Clinic. For whatever reason, perhaps because they felt they couldn’t make enough profit, the developers decided to build a residential complex instead. But Martin County wouldn’t approve that so they had to apply for annexation into the City of Stuart. When the annexation request came in, it was originally for the 22 acres, 16 acres on the northwest corner of the Kanner Highway / Indian Street intersection and the 6 acres on the other side of the base of the bridge. The deal made was 6 acres would remain true preserve with community access. But this is somewhat in question because the Martin County GIS site states that the property is zoned Comm/Off/Res (commercial / office / residential). The other 16 acres would still be developed. Now there will 212 residential units at the base of the veterans bridge where the City of Stuart is not responsible for the traffic pattern. Because of the annexation, Martin County isn’t responsible either. Apparently it falls to the DOT to manage this.
There is one egress in and out from this development on Kanner Highway. Right now, the right lane on Kanner Highway heading south approaching Indian Street is a “right turn only” lane.
Residents and their guests leaving this development will be crossing that turn lane to exit. If anyone needs to turn left on to Indian Street to head towards US1 South, they will have to cross not only the “right turn only” turn lane but 3 lanes of traffic to get into the right of the two left turn lanes. However if someone wants to head towards downtown or reach US1 North, they will need to make a u-turn, which means they need to cross the right turn only lane, the three lanes of traffic, and the outer left turn lane to be available to make the u-turn at the light.
It’s a ridiculous location for a development and a more ridiculous traffic plan but hey, the City of Stuart will have more tax revenue and Martin County will have a bigger population so the Martin County Commissioners will make more of an income. So what if people can’t safely exit a development and people wanting to turn right to Palm City have to pay more attention in a “right turn only” lane? The metaphorical buck doesn’t stop getting passed and stops with no one.
Now let’s talk about the Kanner CPUD, which is where Costco is supposed to go.
Costco was originally supposed to be built in Palm City. That deal did not go through obviously or we wouldn’t be here. So what did happen? For some reason, the County and City have been pushing for a Costco. We are still gathering all we can from FOIA requests but here is the gist of it.
Starting as early as January 4, 2016, the County and City of Stuart staff were discussing it.
In 2016 and 2017 the 5 parcels on Kanner that would eventually make up the Kanner CPUD were annexed. A county commissioner visited the Costco headquarters in the summer of 2017. Why did he go? Did the County pay for it or know about it? And if he went to visit Costco, why??? (We are waiting for FOIA requests to confirm the purpose of this meeting. We’ve also reached out to Costco with no response as of yet.) The Palm City plan was abandoned September 2017. In October 2017, the chatter starts in earnest amongst City of Stuart staff to meet with the intention of pursuing Costco. But where would it go? There are discussions about approaching different property owners. A site on Kanner Highway was identified. There was a Costco application (no apartments, etc) that was for 29.3 acres scheduled with the CRA on 01/17/2019 and the City Commission on 01/28/2019. It was pulled by the developer to be continued. Why?
Kanner CPUD trip generation based on proposed Future Land Use
Then on July 2, 2019 there is an email from one city employee to another discussing the fact that the City of Port St. Lucie put a YouTube pitch together to get a Costco on the Treasure Coast and the response was “I will call Mamood (sic) when I get back to Stuart and tell him to come off his price. I was thinking if we let him make part of the upland contribution so he gets a tax credit we might be able to get the deal closed.” (Click here to see the email.) The sale of the land closed this week, FYI.
I’m sorry. WHAT?!?!?!? Why is City staff offering to negotiate with a land owner on the price of a parcel that has been annexed to be developed within the city limits? How is this okay???
Fast forward to April 2021 when this project again picked up steam and was presented to the CRA in a special meeting. PR efforts started which included lobbying for a Costco including jobs and jobs and jobs and nothing about the strategy to get it here, the manipulation of the comprehensive plan, and the time and effort put in by those who work for and serve as elected officials at the County and the City.
We are angry. Because this was never just about a Costco.
And just wait until you hear about who is responsible for making sure protected gopher tortoises really are protected. You’re going to be furious.