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Understanding Density, Be Ready for Hurricane Season, and more!

June 1, 2024 Weekly Newsletter


This article is the third in a series aimed at educating the community about the potential move of the urban service boundary. If you missed the first article on Density vs. Sprawl, please click here to read it. The second article on the topic of how to wisely move the line can be found here.


Higher Density: A Sustainable Solution for Indian River County?

As Indian River County faces growth challenges, focusing on higher density development within the current Urban Service Boundary (USB) offers a sustainable solution. This approach preserves open spaces, reduces environmental impact, and provides affordable housing options.


Benefits of Higher Density

Higher density development means more efficient use of land and resources. It reduces the need for extensive infrastructure, lowers traffic congestion, and enhances community livability. Additionally, denser communities can support more local businesses and amenities, fostering vibrant, self-sustaining neighborhoods.


Creating Higher Density Nodes

Identifying strategic locations for higher density nodes with access to shopping, educational opportunities, and public transportation can meet housing needs without expanding the USB. These nodes can provide vibrant, walkable communities. A good example of this is the discussion happening in the City of Vero Beach, where increasing density in the downtown area is being considered. Such nodes reduce the need for long commutes, thereby decreasing traffic congestion and pollution.


Addressing the challenge of parking in higher density nodes involves balancing resident and business customer needs, managing peak times, and mitigating the negative impacts of impervious surfaces. Downtown residents typically do not require two parking places per apartment, as people drawn to more urban areas often manage with one or no cars.


Enhancing Public Transportation

Public transportation is key to successful higher density development. Improved transit options reduce car dependency, lower traffic congestion, and improve overall quality of life. Many residents would appreciate the convenience of walking to work or using public transport for their commutes. Younger people, in particular, favor more walkable communities, as they offer a greater sense of community and accessibility to daily needs without relying on cars.


Improved Quality of Life in Higher Density

Higher density development has been shown to significantly enhance the quality of life for residents. These communities often provide easy access to amenities such as parks, shops, and public transportation, promoting healthier, more active lifestyles. Research indicates that residents of walkable neighborhoods report higher satisfaction with their living conditions compared to those in less walkable areas.


The National Association of Realtors' 2023 Community and Transportation Preferences Survey found that 92% of Gen Z and 85% of Millennials are willing to pay more to live in walkable neighborhoods with access to parks, shops, and restaurants. These younger generations are also more likely to choose multifamily dwellings in walkable areas over single-family homes that require driving for daily needs.


Dispelling Myths About Density

Contrary to popular belief, higher density does not mean towering skyscrapers. In Indian River County, it can mean well-designed, multi-story apartments and mixed-use developments that blend seamlessly with existing neighborhoods. These developments can include green spaces, parks, and community centers, enhancing the quality of life and making the areas more attractive and livable. IRNA will be looking at the proposal for downtown Vero Beach and will provide a more comprehensive report over the summer.


Higher density can be achieved without relaxing current building height restrictions, by allowing more residential units per acre. This does not increase the allowable building volume but shifts from high-end condos to smaller units like studios and one-bedroom apartments, which are more suitable and affordable for the target population anticipated for downtown Vero Beach.


Collaborative Planning for Growth

Collaboration between the county and its cities is essential for effective planning. Identifying areas within city limits for higher density development and utilizing Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) can lead to better resource management and community outcomes. This collaborative approach ensures that growth is managed sustainably and benefits all residents.


By carefully planning and implementing higher density developments, Indian River County could create vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods that offer a high quality of life for all its residents--without the need to move the Urban Service Boundary.


 

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With hurricane season officially starting today, it's important to be prepared. Start by making a plan. Understand the risks and familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and shelter locations. Establish a family communication plan so everyone knows how to stay in touch and where to meet if separated. Review your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage for your home and belongings, and take steps to secure your property, such as installing storm shutters and trimming trees.


Next, build an emergency kit. Include at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, and a seven-day supply of essential medications. Add a basic first aid kit, a flashlight, extra batteries, and a multi-tool. Pack personal hygiene items like soap, hand sanitizer, and garbage bags, and store copies of important documents in a waterproof container. Keep some cash on hand since ATMs and credit card systems may not be operational. Don’t forget extra clothing, sturdy shoes, and blankets or sleeping bags.


Stay informed by keeping up with the latest weather forecasts and emergency information from reliable sources like the National Hurricane Center and local authorities. Sign up for emergency alerts and have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio ready. By having a detailed plan and a well-stocked emergency kit, you can face the hurricane season with confidence, knowing you're ready for whatever comes your way.


 

Hike in housing density seen needed to revitalize downtown (Vero News) - Vero Beach City Council plans to triple downtown housing density limits to attract young residents, proposing a November referendum to increase the limit from 17 to 60 units per acre without changing the height restrictions.


Three Corners - SūDā Group chosen to lead riverfront development (Vero News) - SūDā CREC Madison Group has been selected to lead the redevelopment of Vero Beach's old power plant site into a sustainable, community-oriented hub.


SūDā tapped as developer for Three Corners project in Vero Beach (TCPalm) - After four years of planning, Vero Beach has selected SuDa, CREC Capital, and Madison Marquette to develop the Three Corners project, prioritizing a $189 million, community-focused proposal over more expensive alternatives.


Fort Pierce tying heat records; Vero Beach 'a few degrees short' (TCPalm) - Fort Pierce tied a 125-year-old heat record with 98 degrees on May 27, while Vero Beach fell short of its 98-degree record, expecting slight temperature dips and possible rain throughout the week.


Cruise the Indian River Lagoon by Boat! (Discover ELC) - Join ELC's Captain and Nature Guide for daily tours of the Indian River Lagoon and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. Book your seat now!


These 'Polluter PACs' got (and gave) the most 'dirty money' (VoteWater.org) - VoteWater’s Dirty Money Project reveals that PACs like the Associated Industries of Florida and Voice of Florida Business have received millions from polluting industries and donated heavily to top Florida politicians, raising concerns about the influence of "dirty money" on political power.


Why new way to measure Lake O levels may be confusing (WPTV) - The South Florida Water Management District is transitioning from the NGVD 29 to the NAVD 88 standard for measuring Lake Okeechobee levels to improve data accuracy, causing temporary confusion as displayed levels appear up to 1.25 feet lower.


 

One fish, two fish. Let's get back to basics.

 

Ensure every FL voter you know signs and turns in this petition so we can correct course in state water protection. We have to.

 


 

LOSOM takes key step forward - at long last (VoteWater.org) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the final environmental impact study for the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), which aims to reduce harmful discharges to northern estuaries and increase water flow to the Everglades, marking a significant step forward after more than five years of development and delays.


Video captures moment manatee 'hugs' diver's arm in Crystal River, Florida (6abc Philadelphia) - A diver in Crystal River, Florida, captured an incredible moment when a manatee hugged her arm during a dive, highlighting the unique opportunity to swim with manatees in this location, especially from November through April.


Pre-season hurricane landfall forecasts: are they accurate? (Miami Herald) - The 2024 hurricane season is predicted to be extremely active, with higher-than-average numbers of storms and a strong likelihood of impacts on Florida, though exact landfall predictions remain uncertain despite advances in forecasting.


Coastal Communities’ Living Barriers—Mangroves and Coral Reefs—Could Soon Collapse Due to Climate Change (Inside Climate News) - Mangroves and coral reefs, crucial for protecting coastal communities from storms and erosion, are at risk of collapse due to climate change and human activities, prompting conservationists and insurers to devise new strategies for their preservation and restoration.


Majority of U.S. Voters Support Climate Litigation Against Big Oil, Poll Finds (EcoWatch) - A Data for Progress poll reveals that 62% of U.S. voters support legal action against oil and gas companies for their role in climate change, with nearly half also backing criminal charges for related deaths.


Car deaths, roadkill: Our fate is connected to that of animals (Slate) - Roads are increasingly endangering both wildlife and humans, as vehicles cause millions of animal deaths annually and contribute to rising pedestrian fatalities, air pollution, and ecosystem fragmentation, highlighting the interconnectedness of our fates and the urgent need for mitigation measures.


Flamboyant flocks of flamingos are dotting Florida’s coastline (Washington Post) - Flamingos, once nearly extinct in Florida, are making a surprising return with sightings throughout the state, raising hopes among researchers and bird enthusiasts that these iconic birds are reclaiming their natural habitat and sparking calls for their protection and further study.


 

Drinking straws have gotten a bad rap in recent years for their impact on the environment, but the maker of a more environmentally friendly straw has created something really helpful. Biodegradable straws produced by Wincup are being used by Reef Fortify to create 'coral forts,' which protect lab-grown coral reefs from getting eaten up by sea animals.


 

The Most Disturbing Places We've Found Microplastics So Far (Gizmodo) - Microplastics have been found in disturbingly diverse locations, including human organs, testicles of humans and dogs, Antarctic ice, Arctic snow, Mount Everest, the Mariana Trench, beer, bottled water, and even human breast milk, highlighting their pervasive contamination of our planet and potential health risks.


The link between extreme heat and preterm birth (Grist) - Extreme heat is linked to preterm births, particularly affecting marginalized communities due to systemic racism and environmental factors, highlighting the urgent need for policy changes and increased awareness to protect vulnerable populations from the growing impacts of climate change.


Can carbon offsets actually work? The Biden administration thinks so. (Grist) - The Biden administration has introduced new guidelines aimed at improving the credibility of the voluntary carbon market (VCM) by ensuring carbon credits meet rigorous standards and include environmental justice safeguards, though critics argue that fundamental issues with carbon credit effectiveness and market integrity remain unresolved.


Renewable Grid: Recovering Electricity From Heat Storage Hits 44% Efficiency (Environmental News Network) - University of Michigan researchers have developed thermophotovoltaic devices that achieve 44% efficiency in converting heat to electricity, bringing practical grid-scale energy storage from heat batteries closer to reality, which is essential for integrating higher fractions of renewable energy into the grid.


Hundreds of drinking water systems exceed new PFAS standards. It could grow to thousands. (Water Education Foundation) - Nearly 300 public drinking water systems in the U.S., including those in major cities like Fort Worth, Fresno, Pensacola, and Augusta, have exceeded the EPA's new limits for PFAS, necessitating filtration or new water sources to comply with the updated regulations to mitigate the health risks associated with these toxic "forever chemicals."


Sewage overflows linked to increase in gastrointestinal illnesses (ScienceDaily) - A Boston University study reveals that residents in downstream communities of the Merrimack River face a 62% increased risk of acute gastrointestinal illnesses (AGI) following large-volume combined sewer overflows (CSOs), with the risk exacerbated by extreme weather events linked to climate change, underscoring the need for improved infrastructure and federal support.


Don't Drown: Escape Artist's Essential Tips For Water Safety And Accident Prevention This Summer (PRLog) - Michael Griffin, a world-renowned escape artist, offers essential water safety tips: stay calm and swim parallel to the shore in riptides, avoid crowded pools during peak times, always swim with a buddy, learn CPR, and if your car submerges, unbuckle, open windows immediately, and escape through them.


 

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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