32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Sebastian’s latest annexation seen likely to draw lawsuits


The Sebastian City Council’s controversial decision to annex more than 1,000 acres of citrus land into the city – a tract expected eventually become a 3,500-home development – has so many opponents it seems highly likely to become the subject of litigation.

The City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 28 unanimously approved the annexation of 1,118 acres of citrus groves despite loud objections from dozens of public speakers, including environmentalists, representatives of the Indian River Neighborhood Association and Indian River County officials who claim the maneuver is unlawful.

Graves Brothers Companies, a locally-based citrus grower, made the request for voluntary annexation of the nearly 2-square-mile tract located north of 69th Street, west of 74th Avenue and east of 82nd Avenue in the county.

The company last year had 76 acres annexed into Sebastian along the city’s southern border – even though the property shared only a 436-foot border with the city – likely to pave the way for last week’s annexation, County Attorney Dylan Reingold said, adding a similar annexation proposal in Volusia County was denied because the connection was so slight.

That property, once annexed, gave the larger tract a border with the city, making the 1,118 eligible to become part of Sebastian.

“They’re shoehorning this 1,110 acres through this 436-foot wide piece of property,” Reingold said, adding the city and company have been in talks for more than a year to make the annexation work. “That’s what they did to try to make this meet the statutory requirements.”

The state doesn’t specify how wide the shared border between a tract of land and a city must be in order for annexation to be legal, but it must be more than a sliver, Reingold said.

The annexation also violates an agreement between the county and city that stipulates the county must provide water and sewer services to Sebastian, County Administrator Jason Brown said. Sebastian city staff said that the services for the future development could be offered by the county or a third party – a violation of the agreement Brown said.

“There’s potential for litigation,” Brown said, adding the issue will be put on the agenda for the County Commission’s upcoming Sept. 10 meeting so that the board can discuss the possibility of a lawsuit.

Opponents argued the proposed development amounts to urban sprawl and would have a negative impact on area waterways and roads, increasing traffic and pollution.

Much of the controversy revolves around whether the thousands of new homes would be tied into county sewer lines or have septic systems. City council members assured the public that septic tanks are outlawed locally in new developments.

The county, however, wanted more time to ensure it could adequately provide water and sewer services, Brown said, adding the future development would be a large burden on the county. The huge tract is located outside of the county’s Urban Service Area, so there are no provisions in the county’s comprehensive plan to provide water and sewer services there, Brown has said.

Public and neighborhood groups accused the council of rushing the annexation without public workshops and collaboration from the county.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to annex land into a city,” the Indian River Neighborhood Association said in a statement prior to the meeting. “Doing it the wrong way could result in long and divisive legal fights. By addressing the concerns of the community now, the city could save themselves great difficulty in the future.”

Preliminary plans show the mostly residential development would consist of up to eight homes per acre, along with some commercial and industrial property and more than 500 acres of green space.

Annexation of the property is projected to ultimately generate nearly $7 million annually in property tax revenue, utility taxes and stormwater fees for Sebastian. Graves Brothers representatives said development could happen in eight to 15 years.