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IRNA Lunch, Sprawl Bill, Downtown Vero, and more!

February 17, 2024 Weekly Newsletter


Mark Your Calendars:

IRNA Luncheon with County Administrator John Titkanich


Join the Indian River Neighborhood Association for an exciting and informative luncheon featuring a special guest speaker – Indian River County Administrator John Titkanich. Get ready to gain insights into Mr. Titkanich's leadership philosophy, his vision for the future of our county, and engage in a Q&A session covering topics important to you.


Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, February 28th

  • Start Time: Noon

  • Location: Big Shots, 3456 US-1, Vero Beach, FL 32960 (Upstairs in the Loft – elevator available)

  • Cost: $30 per person (includes tax, tip, and delicious food!) Payable at the door by cash or check.

  • Menu: Attendees will enjoy a Fiesta Buffet featuring choices between Chicken or Veggies, accompanied by Rice and Black Beans, Tortillas, Chips and Salsa, and Cookies for dessert.

  • Capacity: Limited to 40 people – sign up early to secure your spot! RSVP by replying to this email.


This event is a chance to connect, learn, and discuss the pivotal challenges and opportunities within our county. Whether you're interested in local governance, community development, or simply looking to enjoy a great meal with like-minded individuals, this luncheon is for you.


Sign up today and be part of a conversation that shapes our future! RSVP by relying to this email to secure your spot!


 

Are you new? Would you like to receive it weekly in your inbox? If so click here to sign up! We're happy to have you!


Together, we are planting seeds of change, nurturing a vision of a vibrant, sustainable Indian River County. Your support is the water that will help these seeds grow and blossom. Your contribution today is more than a donation—it's a commitment to our community's future. Thank you for being the lifeblood of our mission. Join us, as we turn ripples of change into waves of progress.


 

Navigating the Future of Community Planning:

An In-Depth Analysis of HB 1221

2024's "Sprawl Bill" Needs to Go

Contact Our Legislators!


Florida's HB 1221 represents a shift in urban development policy, raising significant concerns among community advocates, environmentalists, and urban planners. This legislation, currently poised for a House vote, seeks to overhaul the Community Planning Act, introducing changes that could profoundly impact urban and natural landscapes across the state.


HB 1221's amendments risk diluting critical urban planning definitions, such as “land use intensity” and “urban sprawl,” potentially fostering unchecked development and exacerbating sprawl. The proposed reduction of public engagement in the planning process and the administrative approval of developments labeled as "infill" without robust public scrutiny or clear definitions further complicate the landscape, threatening to disrupt established land-use patterns and community visions.


As HB 1221 advances, the call for a reevaluation of its provisions grows louder. Critics, like the IRNA, emphasize the importance of retaining community input and strategic planning at the heart of urban development efforts. The debate surrounding the bill underscores the need for a balanced approach to growth that respects community interests and the environmental integrity of Florida's diverse regions. Please reach out to our elected officials below to express your concern for this bill.


 

This video explores the possibility of using flowers to clean up Florida's polluted water. Nutrient pollution from fertilizer runoff can harm marine life and ecosystems. Wetlands can help filter out these pollutants, but many wetlands have been destroyed by development. This research project tested the effectiveness of growing marigolds on floating mats in polluted water. The marigolds were able to remove significant amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen from the water. The researchers hope to use this method to clean up polluted waterways around the world.


 

Paying for a new city center: How will Vero Beach cover the cost of reinventing downtown? (TCPalm) - Vero Beach considers forming a community redevelopment agency (CRA) to fund downtown revitalization, potentially using increased property taxes from the improved area to finance the project.


Brightline expects fewer passengers in 2024 after lower-than-projected ridership in 2023 (TCPalm) - Brightline has lowered its passenger projections for 2024 due to lower-than-expected ridership figures in late 2023.


Polling Place Change for Indian River County Voters (VeroNews.com) - Voters in Indian River County's Precinct 25 will now cast their ballots at the Vero Beach Moose Lodge #1822 following a permanent polling place change.


End to repairs at Conn Beach boardwalk in sight (VeroNews.com) - Repairs to the storm-damaged parking area along the Conn Beach boardwalk, delayed for over a year after Hurricane Nicole, are finally nearing completion.


Volunteers watch over Florida scrub jay population in Wabasso Scrub Conservation Area (TCPalm) - Endangered species biologist Monica Folk and volunteers work to monitor and condition Florida scrub jay families within the Wabasso Scrub Conservation Area, helping their population rebound despite habitat loss from development.


Is this future of downtown Vero Beach? Duany finale draws applause to big, bold master plan (TCPalm) - Famed urban planner Andres Duany presented a bold vision for the future of downtown Vero Beach, aiming to revitalize the area by adding mixed-use buildings, prioritizing pedestrian-friendly spaces, and increasing residential density. (Video below.)


 

The recent presentation on downtown revitalization drew over 200 attendees, focusing on transforming the area into a vibrant, inclusive space. Key proposals include affordable housing for teachers, cultural enrichment via projected art and films, outdoor cafes, and updates to public spaces and infrastructure, and much more. Emphasizing the importance of community feedback, the plan is set to evolve with further input as it aims for completion in March. The initiative seeks to enhance downtown's quality of life and economy, encouraging ongoing community engagement. Thanks to everyone who contributed or worked to make this possible. The future is in your hands, take advantage of it!



 

Lake O discharges start Saturday. What are we going to do about that? (VoteWater.org) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin releasing water from Lake Okeechobee, harming northern estuaries, highlighting the ongoing need for more land and storage south of the lake to permanently alleviate this problem.


What would discharges mean for Martin County? (WPTV) - With the Army Corps of Engineers now releasing water from Lake Okeechobee, Martin County residents fear the negative consequences for water quality, marine life, tourism, and their local economy.


Florida’s cultured meat ban grinds ahead— and China can’t be happier (Florida Politics) - Florida's proposed ban on cultivated meat threatens to undermine the state's economy and food security while potentially handing China a competitive advantage in the burgeoning alternative protein market.


Florida could remove the majority of mentions of climate change from state law (Tampa Bay Times) - A Florida bill backed by the House Speaker seeks to remove numerous mentions of "climate change" from state law while also revising Florida's energy policies.


More questions than answers as Riviera Beach leaders investigate contamination of fecal matter in water (WPBF) - Despite calls for transparency from Riviera Beach residents and business owners, city officials have failed to provide answers regarding the timeline and extent of recent fecal contamination of the water supply.


Report: Florida received D- in coastal management and sea level rise preparations (ABC Action News) - The Surfrider Foundation downgraded Florida to a D- in its latest coastal management report, highlighting  concerns about sea level rise, erosion, and the state's reliance on hard coastal armoring solutions.


 

Join our friends from Pelican Island Audubon Society on Thursday, February 22nd from 7-8:30 PM at the Audubon House for "A Landscape in Transition: The Evolving Ecology of the Treasure Coast." Local birding expert Will Johnson will discuss how climate change is impacting our unique environment.


Climate Change is affecting local ecological communities & is resulting in environmental change thru habitat loss & transformation. A well-known, local birder, Will Johnson grew up in Vero Beach with an abiding interest in the natural world. The presentation will include:


  • The convergence of temperate & subtropic biomes on the Treasure Coast

  • It’s sensitivity to long-term fluctuations in the frequency of wintertime frosts

  • As frosts becoming less frequent, subtropical vegetation is advancing further north & supporting more insect life –in turn increasing wintering warbler diversity locally

  • Many tropical reef fishes strays are now surviving the winter months These are just a few examples, & he will discuss others, including invasive non-native species that have rapidly expanded north in just a few years!


This topic is relevant to anyone with an interest in our rapidly changing local environment. Don't miss out!


 

What if public housing were for everyone? (Vox) - Local governments across the US are embracing a new form of "social housing" - publicly-owned, mixed-income housing developments - to address the housing crisis and reduce reliance on federal subsidies.


The East Coast Is Sinking (The New York Times) - Land subsidence, primarily fueled by groundwater overpumping, is  exacerbating sea level rise along the  East Coast, threatening communities and infrastructure with increasing flood risks.


A company said there was only sand in the path of its new pipeline. Scientists found a thriving ecosystem. (Grist) - A proposed natural gas pipeline off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico threatens to destroy coral reefs, disrupt local livelihoods, and exacerbate climate change, prompting scientists, fishers, activists, and community members to oppose the project.


Compounds released by bleaching reefs promote bacteria, potentially stressing coral further (ScienceDaily) - Researchers found that stressed and bleached corals release organic compounds that promote the growth of opportunistic bacteria in the surrounding water, which may put further stress on the coral reefs.


Satellites Unveil the Size and Nature of the World’s Coral Reefs (ENN) - Satellite mapping reveals that there is more coral reef area across the globe than previously thought, and the new technology allows scientists to better understand the composition of these vital ecosystems.


Global deforestation leads to more mercury pollution (ScienceDaily) - A new study shows that global deforestation contributes significantly to human-made mercury emissions, accounting for approximately 10% of the total, and researchers suggest reforestation could increase global mercury uptake by about 5%.


Solar water heaters were cool in 1980s. They could be again. (Washington Post) - While solar water heaters were popular in the past, they have since been outshined by photovoltaics, but new incentives and a desire for net-zero emissions  may lead to renewed interest in the more efficient technology.


Understanding how soil traps carbon (Northwestern University) - Scientists found that the way organic carbon from plants and clay minerals in the soil interact, affected by things like electric charges, shape, nearby metals, and how molecules behave with each other, is key to the soil's ability to store carbon, which could help fight climate change.


Here’s how we can make water utilities more secure (SC Magazine) - Water utilities face significant cybersecurity challenges due to vulnerabilities in their operational technology systems, often exacerbated by resource constraints and the prevalence of legacy systems, but they can improve their resilience by prioritizing patching, risk assessments, and compensating controls.


 

In January, Indian River County, as part of the St. Johns River Water Management District, experienced a trend of above-average rainfall, mainly due to frontal systems. This is typical for this time of the year. The District, which includes 18 counties, saw 11 of them receiving between half an inch to an inch more rainfall than their usual monthly average. The Districtwide average rainfall was 3.08 inches, exceeding the monthly average by 0.47 inches. Over the past 12 months, the majority of the District has received above-average rainfall, with a cumulative total of 56.20 inches, which is 5.19 inches above the long-term average.


Groundwater levels in the Upper Floridan aquifer were mostly high or in the normal range at the end of January, with Districtwide groundwater levels falling within the 82nd percentile, indicating a high range for this time of year. Spring flows were also reported, with Silver Springs and Blue Spring in Volusia County recording mean monthly flows within the high and normal ranges, respectively. Rock Springs and Wekiwa Springs experienced slight increases in mean monthly flow, staying within the normal range.


For more information on rainfall totals and other hydrologic data, you can visit the St. Johns River Water Management District's website. Additionally, tips for water conservation and landscape care can be found at WaterLessFlorida.com.


 

Want your voice to be heard? Use this link to easily contact elected officials—from your city council to the President. Your voice can make a real impact. While the IRNA may occasionally prompt you to contact specific officials about urgent issues, we keep this list handy for your convenience. Can't find who you're looking for? Just let us know; we're here to help connect you with the right people.


 





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