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We can't trade sustainability for someone else's comfort

 
Note: It is our goal at One Martin to provide reliable, fact-based information so citizens can be better informed about our government and our community. 
 
 
 
We can't trade sustainability for someone else's comfort
 
Most of us hate changing what’s grown comfortable and familiar to us. It’s the known versus the unknown, which makes us easy targets for those who want to influence our opinions. 
 
Our susceptibility to emotional responses takes precedence over cool, rational analysis of facts, particularly when it comes to land-use issues in Martin County.
 
Thankfully, we have seen some projects that overcame the fear-mongering predictions by a minority of vocal no-growth activists. Many of these previously contentious projects now enhance our quality of life to the point that we cannot imagine living without them.
 


Veterans Memorial Bridge
 
One example is the once highly controversial Veterans Memorial Bridge
which connects Indian Street in Stuart to Martin Highway in Palm City. Its original justification was to serve as an important additional hurricane evacuation route. The bridge gives us a direct route to Florida’s Turnpike and prevents gridlock at the Palm City Bridge in an emergency. Does this peace of mind contribute to our quality of life? We think it does.
 
 
The bridge also enhances our lives in multiple other ways, too, from its beauty and gorgeous views from the top to its popular use by walkers, joggers and cyclists, to shortened commutes for both workers and shoppers. It’s difficult now to imagine the decades of fierce opposition to the plans for the bridge, including a lawsuit that delayed construction by many years and added millions of dollars to the final cost of the bridge. 
 
Those of us who travel the Veterans Memorial Bridge can’t imagine life without it. It is truly an enhancement to our community.
 

 
Florida Oceanographic Tower Denied
 
Interestingly, the bridge generates such pride that no one even complained about the 50-foot flagpole that was installed a few years ago, which soars a full 10 feet above Martin County’s four-story height limit. That’s ironic when you consider the beloved Florida Oceanographic Society
was denied an educational observation tower on its property on Hutchinson Island because it was a mere five feet above the height limit. 
 
 
The tower would have allowed visitors to simultaneously see the St. Lucie River and the ocean but was shot down by “no-growthers” who refused to acknowledge its value as an environmental education tool. "No exceptions to the rules," yelled the activists!
 

 
Other Notable Projects that enhance Martin County’s Quality of Life
 
Other high-value projects that saw bitter opposition at the time, but we cannot imagine living without now, include the life-saving tower at Martin Memorial North Hospital and the Martin Memorial South Hospital, both now Cleveland Clinic. 
 
 
Back in the day, vigorous opposition also targeted South Fork High School and the beautiful master-planned Martin Downs community, as well as the construction of Citrus Boulevard, Monterey Road, and the Green River Parkway, which all help alleviate traffic congestion along our main arteries.
 
We’ve lost some good projects, too…
 
Thanks to the same no-growth activists who are so adept at recruiting others to support their agenda and false narrative by stirring emotions that override rational thinking. 
 
It’s happened even when the projects themselves stir our emotions, such as the Boy Scout Camp at Jonathan Dickinson State Park
, or removing the septic tanks responsible for polluting the Loxahatchee River (the state’s first “Wild and Scenic River”), the St. Lucie and the Indian River Lagoon.
 
 
Can you believe that anyone calling himself or herself an environmentalist today would fight septic tank removal on our treasured waterways? Yet it happened.
 
These so-called “environmentalists” spent more than 25 years convincing residents that pollution from septic tanks along the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon is non-existent. They insisted — some still insist — that the enteric bacteria that periodically makes the water untouchable and feeds algal blooms comes solely from agriculture, despite studies confirming its origin is human. 
 
Other projects that landed in the dustbin due to our most vocal citizens included the extension of Willoughby Boulevard to create another north-south corridor that would alleviate traffic congestion on US 1. After the 2012 election, the road’s funding was returned—just as more commuters were hitting our highways. 
 

 
Where is the traffic coming from?
 
It’s a popular false claim to blame the increased roadway traffic on “out-of-control” development. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, during the past decade, Martin County’s population only increased by about 1,200 residents annually - from 146,000 in 2010 to 158,000.
 
 
New residents alone cannot be blamed for all the additional traffic.
 
Often ignored is the simple fact that people cannot afford to live in Martin County. Half of the County’s employees, half of the City of Stuart’s employees, and a third of the school district’s employees live out of county and must commute here.  In addition, many of our residents must travel out of county for better-paying jobs.
 
The short-sightedness of vocal activists, those who ascribe to the “Just Say No” land-planning philosophy as the solution to all of Martin County’s issues, are to blame for these commuters — and so much more.
 
We must also point out that the choice to move I-95 out west decades ago as a growth management tool has backfired.  That decision eliminated its use as an alternative to commuters, which further congests US 1. 
 

 
1982 Called and It Wants our Comp Plan Back
 
We’ve learned so much about our natural environment, development patterns and sprawl than when our Comprehensive Growth Management Plan was first written in 1982.
 
 
Would you want to use the same technology or medicine that was available back in 1982 to enhance your quality of life today?  Of course not! The same is true for using a forty-year-old Comp Plan as our guide for the future.  Why would we NOT be willing to make changes to it and incorporate the best land-use practices available today? 
 
Over and over again, this SAME group of fear-mongering activists stir residents’ emotions anytime a change is contemplated, without ever looking at potential positive benefits. They’re successful because they took over a formerly legitimate conservation organization more than two decades ago. They usurped the mission of that organization with downright lies and distortions to motivate unsuspecting residents to be their foot soldiers, to give the impression that this conservation organization is a countywide, grassroots movement. It’s not. 

If we want to ensure the sustainability of our quality of life and “the Martin County difference," we need to stand up to the naysayers and fearmongers. They should no longer be allowed to drown out rational, factual conversations about adjustments to the Comp Plan to create a sustainable Martin County. It's the only way to ensure better futures for our children and grandchildren.
 
 
Sincerly, 

 
 
Rick Hartman
President, One Martin
 
 

Upcoming Government Meetings

City of Stuart
Local Planning Agency

Thursday, August 4 @ 5:30 p.m.
121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

Village of Indiantown

Regular Council Meeting
Thursday, August 4 @ 6:30 p.m.
15516 SW Osceola St, Ste. C, Indiantown

City of Stuart
Regular City Commission Meeting
Monday, August 8 @ 4:00 p.m.
121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

Martin County Board of County Commissioners
Regular Meeting
Tuesday, August 9 @ 9:00 a.m.
2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

Town of Sewall's Point
Regular Commission Meeting
Tuesday, August 9 @ 5:30 p.m.
1 S. Sewall’s Point Road, Sewall’s Point

Business Development Board of Martin County
Board of Directors Meeting
Wednesday, August 10 @ 8:30 a.m.
2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart

Port Salerno Neighborhood Advisory Committee
Thursday, August 11 @ 6:00 p.m.
4455 SE Murray Street, New Monrovia

Old Palm City Neighborhood Advisory Committee
Monday, August 15 @ 6:00 p.m.
2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

Martin County Board of County Commissioners
Regular Meeting

Tuesday, August 16 @ 9:00 a.m.
2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

Martin County School Board

Regular School Board Meeting
Tuesday, August 16 @ 4:00 p.m.
500 East Ocean Boulevard, Stuart

Martin County Board of County Commissioners
Local Planning Agency
Thursday, August 18 @ 7:00 p.m.
2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

City of Stuart
Community Redevelopment Agency
Monday, August 22 @ 4:30 p.m.
121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

City of Stuart
Regular City Commission Meeting
Monday, August 22 @ 5:30 p.m.
121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

Town of Sewall's Point
Regular Commission Meeting
Wednesday, August 24 @ 7:00 p.m.
1 S. Sewall’s Point Road, Sewall’s Point

City of Stuart
Board of Adjustment
Thursday, August 25 @ 5:30 p.m.
121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

Village of Indiantown
Regular Council Meeting
Thursday, August 25 @ 6:30 p.m.
15516 SW Osceola St, Ste. C, Indiantown

Community Redevelopment Agency Board
Monday, August 29 @ 3:00 p.m.
2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart
 
 
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Stuart, FL 34994

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