Pending Farmton Development
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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