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Shores approves zoning for Surfsedge development


The 24-home Surfsedge community – slated to be built on a 5.2-acre oceanside parcel sold at auction in 2017 by the Town of Indian River Shores – is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Town Council unanimously approved two ordinances needed for the Naples-based Lutgert Companies’ development plan to move forward.

A detailed site plan and other construction documents still must go through the Shores’ permitting process before construction can begin on the project’s three-story, 12-unit condominium and 12 single-family homes, but the proper zoning is now in place.

“We are super excited to move into the permitting stage for Surfsedge,” said Lutgert Project Manager Mike Hoyt. “We foresee the entire permitting process taking us into the first of the year, but we should have enough permitting complete to start marketing the homes with Dale Sorensen Real Estate – Megan Raasveldt is the contact person – late this year.”

“The condominium is a three-story building – two living levels of 6 homes each over parking with a roof top amenity space – and it is on the eastern edge of our property overlooking the county property and the Atlantic,” Hoyt said.

The 12 single- family homes will be split, six on each side of a short central street running east-west from the condominium to A1A.

Town ordinance 540, introduced in June, and finalized on July 26, officially rezoned the parcel from multifamily residential to a Planned Residential Development. The town had split the property into three smaller lots for auction, with the idea that the sale might attract buyers wishing to purchase large estate homesites, but the whole parcel was also on offer and the land ended up selling to the Naples’ developer.

The parcel had been zoned for up to 30 units, optimal zoning to fetch a higher price for the land, according to appraisals which predicted up to $7.7 million would be gleaned from the sale. The town actually received $4.48 million from Lutgert via the May 6, 2017 auction conducted by former county commissioner Wesley Davis.

For neighbors in adjacent Pebble Beach Villas and Pebble Bay across A1A, the auction was somewhat controversial. At first residents didn’t understand why the town was declaring the property surplus, and wanted it preserved as a park for public use. When that proposal failed to gain traction, neighbors dug in to preserve their long-standing, customary beach access across the property.

Developer Ed Schlitt, who owned the property while building the Pebble Bay community and neighboring Pebble Beach Villas, sold the property to Indian River County in the 1980s with the understanding that beach access would be preserved. 

But the public access provision agreed to by the county did not pass with the deed when the Shores acquired the parcel in a 1993 land swap, even though the Town – which fenced the property – continued to allow casual beach access. There was a well-worn path where residents who live west of A1A traipsed to the ocean through an open gate.

Town officials, concerned about the liability of people jaywalking across A1A and traversing an undeveloped, unpatrolled parcel of land, considered closing off that access when the land was sold, but ultimately decided to allow a permanent 5-foot pathway on the south end of the parcel abutting Pebble Beach Villas.

“The five-foot pathway to the beach that benefits the residents along the west side of A1A was shown in the drawings,” Town Clerk Laura Aldrich noted in a news bulletin emailed to residents about the council action.