Judge halts Sebastian's 1,100-acre annexation
Special to Treasure Coast Newspapers USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
SEBASTIAN — The Pelican Island Audubon Society won its challenge against the city Tuesday in the fight to stop the annexation of 1,100-acres of Grave Brothers citrus property.
In a decision dated Tuesday, the Appellate Division of the 19th Circuit Court agreed with the Audubon Society, ruling the city did not publish a complete map of the area to be annexed in its required newspaper notice.
Missing in the published public notice was a 5-acre parcel previously annexed by the city that made the property contiguous and therefore eligible for annexation.
“The City Council concedes that the public notice map was missing a fiveacre parcel but it argues that the flaw is de minimus,” wrote Appellate Court judges Michael Heisey, Robert Meadows and Jeffrey Hendriks. “The complete map was attached to the ordinance.
“We find that the City Council was required to include a complete map in the public notice showing the area to be annexed in its entirety, and the five-acre parcel was not de minimus. Therefore, the petition for writ of certiorari is granted and the City Council’s ordinance is quashed.”
In its lawsuit, the Audubon Society also noted the city failed to follow its own code of ordinances by bypassing the Planning and Zoning Commission’s
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review of the annexation, and the annexed lands did not meet the requirement the land is contiguous and compact.
Neither point was included in the decision.
In April, the city asked the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity to give them until 2021 to finalize a landuse amendment necessary for the 1,100acre Graves Brothers annexation to move forward. The land-use amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan would permit a mix of residential, commercial and industrial development on the 1,100 acres just off County Road 510.
The city can appeal Tuesday’s court decision about the annexation or accept it. Officials for Sebastian and the Pelican Island Audubon Society could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
In a press release, Donna Halleran, a board member of the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County and a petitioner in the A udubon lawsuit, said “This is an opportunity for the City of Sebastian, the applicant (Graves Brothers), the County and concerned groups to come together to address issues of developmental impacts, protection of our natural environment, and the efficient delivery of services to this rural area of the county.”