SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian City Council unanimously approved the annexation of 182 acres Wednesday that could bring between 500 to 700 homes over the next decade.
The approval clears the way to allow Ridgewood Sebastian LLC to begin the next city approval for the Spirit of Sebastian project, a planned urban development (PUD).
However, the project still faces scrutiny from some residents.
“What is the hurry? Independent financial impact studies do not lie. Here you will see the developer makes all the money, and we the taxpayers get stuck paying the bills in the future,” said Damien Gilliams.
Mayor Jim Hill said that if the property isn’t annexed to the city, the county could approve 1,100 homes instead of the proposed 500 to 700. Hill said the developer would pay for roads, county water & sewage, and the city would generate revenue through fees and taxes.
Councilman Ed Dodd said annexation was only the first step in a very long process, where all of their concerns would be flushed-out.
“All it says is it’s going to make the land part of the city of Sebastian,” said Dodd. “The city has to get the developer to invest money in the PUD application before the project can even go to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. You can’t produce everything up front. This is just the first step in the process.”
The property is located north and east of the Sebastian Highlands, and south of the Sebastian Industrial Park near County Road 512.
Chuck Mechling, developer for the project, said he and his team plan to submit the application to the city in the next few weeks. During this process, traffic and transportation patterns in Sebastian would be analyzed. In addition, roads, drainage, and the environment would have to be necessary improvements before the plan is finalized.
Mechling said it is a long process.
“But all of the concerns folks brought up tonight will be addressed. Our whole team will meet with everyone who spoke to get their input into the project. There will be traffic studies, reports, environmental assessments, whatever is necessary will be done,” Mechling said.