Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170; Sevas@cfl.rr.com
Dedicated to the protection of birds, other animals, and their habitats through education and activism

 

 

 
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Pending Farmton Development

The first of two meetings of the Farmton property “stakeholders” took place Thursday, September 25 at the Brannon Center.  Kathy Booth was tied up so I attended to give SEVAS a presence at the table.  Karyn Hoffman, of West Volusia Audubon was also there.  Other green people present were a Forest Ranger and a Florida Fish and Wildlife Agent.  Clay Henderson was part of the Miami Corporation team.  All in all there were some 40 to 50 stakeholders present; we were promised a list of attendees and minutes but have received neither to date.

Farmton Tree Farm is a 58,000 acre property located west of I-95, starting at Restoration and running south into Brevard County.  It is owned by Miami Corporation and has been managed mainly as a timber operation for over 80 years.  Of note is the fact that Miami Corporation planted the trees on mainly open ground to create the forest which now exists.

As timbering is no longer economical in East Central Florida, the company is looking for other income.

We were continually assured that the Miami Corporation Board of Directors are very nice people and that they wish to build a “legacy” project here.  We found that probably meant a planned community, hopefully with significant green areas.  It was suggested that these green areas could be wildlife corridors which would connect with other established or planned corridors to traverse all the way from South Florida to the Osceola National Forest.

We were told that the property was valued at $2 billion which, considering that a lot of it is swamp, is quite a hefty sum.  Regardless of the amount of salesmanship in the value however, it is obviously well outside the funds available to our county land acquisition group.

We were also told that while the board members of Miami Corp are nice people, they are charged with providing income to their shareholders and they have not even agreed in principal to the green concept being discussed in this meeting.

We broke into three groups and brainstormed for an hour.  One person from each group then presented their ideas to the whole meeting.  Impressive thoughts came forward.  One group wanted an Avalon Park twin and discussed how that concept would lend itself to the area in question.  The second group emphasized that Miami Corporation is a private company and will therefore only pursue profit.  Their presenter also emphasized that “they will come” so we need to prepare to help “them.”

Our group was comprised of the greens and traffic people plus an excellent note taker and a very well-organized chairperson.  The group treated the project as a true greenfield opportunity.  Ideas on land use, industry, mixed communities and the greater good were discussed.  The traffic people brought forth excellent ideas on utilizing the back-haul potential of truck traffic on I-95 to promote an industrial corridor along the highway, minimizing overall carbon footprint by providing in-project job and recreation opportunities for residents, designing streets to minimize distances to be travelled and designing to facilitate walking or golf-carting to the store, gym or restaurant.  The greens discussed the necessary width of animal corridors, the need for buffer zones between treed corridors and residences with small children, water recharge areas and habitat protection.  Both factions had suggestions for hiking trails and agreed the possibility of some sort of ecotourism should be pursued.

Again, when the minutes are finally received, I will add them to this report.

The one very critical message that I hope to covey to everyone is:

This is important.  We need to watch its progress closely and participate in its development and the associated decisions.  This is 58,000 acres on our doorstep.  This could, and probably will, be a life-style changer for all of us.  We need to do everything we can to ensure those changes are not negative.  This is important.