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

FAA, in reversal, says mobile homes can stay

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of October 20, 2022)

With the Citrus Park Village crisis now averted, it’s still a mystery why – or even if – the Federal Aviation Administration had singled out the mobile home park operating on Vero Beach Regional Airport property.

“I’d love to know, but I don’t need to know, and at this point I don’t really care,” Vero Beach City Manager Monte Falls said. “In situations like this, you take a win when you can get one. And for us, this was a win.”

Falls declared victory after a high-ranking FAA official told him the city did not need to shut down Citrus Park Village, providing him with a proposal that will allow residents of the 69-unit community to stay in their mobile homes on the airport’s periphery.

To save the mobile home park, city officials simply need to remove the mobile home park parcel from the airport’s land use map. As Falls pointed out: The city already owns the property.

“We’re not really transferring ownership, because the airport is not a separate entity,” Falls said. “The city owns the airport. But that parcel will no longer be on airport property.”

Thus, the FAA will not have jurisdiction over the property that has been occupied by Citrus Park Village since 1968.

One longtime resident called the turnaround a “miracle,” because it appeared the mobile home park’s fate had already been decided.

“Thank you, Jesus!” said Cindy Binafif, 74, who has lived in Citrus Park Village for nearly 50 years. “I believe it was the power of prayer, because we had a lot of people praying for us.
“For a lot of us, there was nowhere to go,” she added. “There was no place we could afford to go, and most places didn’t have any availability, anyway. I’d probably have had to sleep in my work van.

“So we’re all very grateful to be able to stay in our homes.”

Citrus Park Village residents will continue to pay rent to the city, and the airport will continue to operate the mobile home park, Falls said, adding, “There are still details to work out, but as far as I can tell, tenants will not notice any difference.”

The FAA initially informed the city in July 2021 that long-term residential use of airport property that “does not directly support aeronautical operations” is incompatible with the agency’s requirements and policies governing federal grants.

Vero Beach officials tried to save Citrus Park Village in a letter to the FAA this summer, when they explained that residential use of the property has been ongoing since “circa 1942” – when the current airport was a Naval Air Station, before the U.S. government transferred the land to the city in 1947.

Falls said the mobile home park was included in every Airport Master Plan the city has submitted to the FAA since 1976.

On Aug. 18, however, Vero Beach Airport Director Todd Scher received a letter notifying him that the FAA had rejected the city’s request to allow the mobile home community to continue occupying the property.

The letter also came with a warning: If Vero Beach officials didn’t remove the mobile homes and rezone the property to an FAA-approved land use, the airport no longer would be eligible for federal grants.

In addition, the FAA could demand the city return millions of federal dollars it already had received.

The FAA gave the city until Oct. 28 to present a “corrective action plan” to resolve the matter. Scher submitted the plan last week.

Last month, though, Vero Beach 32963 broke the news of the FAA’s mandate in a front-page story and published a follow-up report earlier this month, putting pressure on city officials to challenge the agency’s position.

Then, last week, Falls contacted aides in the offices of Congressman Bill Posey, whose district includes Vero Beach, and U.S. Senator Rick Scott.

“I explained the situation and asked them: Is this a nationwide mandate? A statewide mandate? Or does it just apply to Vero Beach?” Falls said. “They said they would talk to people in the FAA and find out.”

Scher said he received a call from Steven Hicks, director of airports for the FAA’s Southern Region, last Thursday afternoon and was asked to arrange a conference call with Falls and other city officials.

“He said he was surprised to find out we were moving in the direction we were told we had to move,” Scher said. “He said he threw out to his staff a proposal that would allow the mobile home park to stay there. He made it sound pretty simple.”

Eager to find a way to save Citrus Park Village, Falls said he didn’t mention during the call the FAA letter in which the city was told it needed to shut down the mobile home park.

“There was no reason to point fingers,” Falls said. “We were getting what we wanted – to keep the mobile home park. He then walked us through his proposal, and I said, ‘Sounds good.’”

In fact, Hicks embraced Falls’ suggestion that, since there was still time before the FAA’s Oct. 28 deadline, the city file an amended corrective action plan that included the new proposal.

“So that’s what we’re going to do,” Falls said.

Falls said the city must get a “fair market appraisal” of the Citrus Park Village property before the parcel can be removed from the airport, adding that funds generated by the tenants’ rents – about $170,000 annually – will be transferred to the airport to cover the mobile home park’s maintenance and operations.

“That money will be paid to the airport,” he said, “in return for the fair market value of the land.”

Falls said he understood some tenants were suspicious that the city officials weren’t sincere when they said they didn’t want to close the mobile home park, claiming the city wanted the property for other more-lucrative uses.

He called it a “stress reaction” to being told they would soon be forced to move when there’s little affordable housing available in the Vero Beach area.

“When people get backed into a corner, they get defensive,” he said. “I hope they now believe we never wanted to shut down the mobile home park.”

Binafif said she anticipates many Citrus Park Village residents will invest in making improvements to their homes, now that they know they’ll be staying in the community.

“Maybe we’ll even have a party to celebrate,” she added.

Falls said he believes the FAA’s reversal was prompted by newspaper and television reports about the fate of the mobile home park, as well as the inquiries made by aides of Posey and Scott.

As for why the FAA suddenly decided this summer to address the mobile home park matter, Falls said it remains a mystery.

“If I had nothing else to do, I could look into it and try to unravel this mystery, but I’ve got plenty on my plate,” Falls said. “I don’t know why this became an issue here, but I know it wasn’t an issue everywhere.”