by Mike Vogel
Updated 11 months ago
Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach wanted to build a 50-foot-high church topped by a 58-foot steeple and cross. In Vero, anything above 50 feet requires a referendum, so the church went to the voters in
November. It lost by a 3-2 ratio.
Voters are "just mad-dog rabid" on low densities and height restrictions, says Mayor Craig Fletcher. Heavy industry? "They'd shoot you at the door when you came in."
The incident shows the backbone of Vero's home county of Indian River and nearby Martin County: A small-town feel that draws the affluent. Martin is second in Florida in per capita income. Indian River tops the state in percentage of income from dividends and property. The downside: Both rely on retirees and the low-wage service jobs they generate.
Indian River's population growth slowed during the 1990s, says county Community Development Director Bob Keating, never breaking 3% as it did during the 1980s.
Sandwiched between Martin and Indian River, meanwhile, is growth-minded St. Lucie, where new developments come by the thousands of acres. It struggles with traffic congestion.
Trinity church, by the way, is going forward "steepleless," says Father Lorne Coyle. Also in November, he notes, Vero voters approved the pregnant pig protection state amendment: "The pigs got more votes than the steeple."
VERO BEACH & Indian River County
KEY TREND: It won't get easier to build big in Vero Beach. Following construction on the city's barrier island of a three-story building, Vero is talking about capping construction at two stories and outlawing parking garages there. "Our mantra is low-rise, low-density development," says Assistant Planning Director Mark Satterlee. Indeed, hallmarks of modern development such as zero-lot-line housing are frowned upon in Vero. Indian River can disdain what less-affluent counties accommodate.
PEOPLE TO WATCH: Edwin Massey, Indian River Community College president, will be pushing the region as an R&D hub with a high-tech center in Stuart, a technology building in Fort Pierce and the college's continuing partnership with Florida Atlantic University. ... Bill Bryant will open his second building and begin construction on a third at his Bridgewater office project.
BUSINESSES TO WATCH: Aircraft maker New Piper, down to 850 employees from 1,600 a few years ago, continues to battle the effects of the recession, Sept. 11 and an engine supplier recall. ... The Indian River Citrus League's best-management practices for everything from handling fertilizer to spraying are taking growers by storm with its lower costs and potential for governmental cost-sharing. ... High-end decorative paint maker Faux Effects in Vero Beach, at 40 employees, is looking to expand.
PORT ST. LUCIE & St. Lucie County
KEY TREND: When Port St. Lucie Mayor Bob Minsky was first elected in 1992, the city had 55,000 people spread over 81 square miles. The Treasure Coast boom town soon will cover 100 square miles, has a population of 100,000 and is laid out for another 200,000. Growth has a price. The city wants a third bridge across the St. Lucie River to ease congestion. On the plus side, "we still have quite a bit of affordable housing," says Minsky, "which is a godsend for us."
PEOPLE TO WATCH: What's next for county administrator Doug Anderson? In the last year, he negotiated deals to bring to the county a 1,200-employee Wal-Mart distribution center, a 36-job ($42,000 average wage) Tropicana facility and a 100-employee Scripps-Howard printing plant. Anderson also cut a deal with the Mets that many believe is the best in spring training baseball. Says Anderson: "We have a very aggressive economic
development team here." ... Will Lloyd Bell sell? He's the owner of 67 acres at the Port of Fort Pierce that the county and The Haskell Co. need to create a $174-million megayacht complex.
BUSINESSES TO WATCH: Some of the same people who run the Hickory Furniture Mart in North Carolina are renovating an old outlet center between I-95 and Florida's Turnpike to create the Florida Furniture Mart, a retailer. ... Boat builder Twin Vee PowerCats in Port St. Lucie is adding a second, bigger facility in Fort Pierce and plans to add 40 workers a year for three or four years. ... 2,600-acre PGA Village, under developer Kolter Property Co., wants a 2,000- to 2,500-acre expansion that will include two new PGA of America courses.
STUART & Martin County
KEY TREND: A couple of years ago, Martin County commissioners seemed to thaw the county's famously frosty reception to development. In November, the voters responded by ousting incumbents to elect tighter-control candidates Sarah Heard and Susan Valliere. It's back to the ice age, say some business people. But the same election saw voters approve a bed tax to increase tourism marketing. Meanwhile, local chamber President Joseph Catrambone sees few industrial relocations coming. When prospects ask what incentives Martin offers, Catrambone has a reluctant answer: "I tell them the sunshine and the pleasure of our company."
PEOPLE TO WATCH: Larry Mueller, principal of the proposed Ballyhoo Golf Club, is trying to get governmental approval to build a 300-member, 27-hole traditional club (meaning no homes) on 325 acres. ... Brian Spieles, president of Florida Outdoors RV, a Stuart dealer, will open a $10-million to $15-million, 22-acre site between I-95 and Florida's Turnpike with an expanded RV product line, service facilities and a Camping World RV aftermarket parts and equipment store.
BUSINESSES TO WATCH: Galaxy Aviation plans to add two hangars to its existing five and add five acres of aircraft parking. ... FPL will hire up to 575 workers and spend $15 million to $20 million to build a $500-million generation plant at its existing Indiantown complex.
BUSINESSES TO WATCH: Eight-branch Big Lake National Bank plans this year to add a third branch in Okeechobee and a new one in Port St. Lucie and has longer-range plans to enter Palm City. ... Bulk commodity trucking company Walpole Inc., under owner Ed Walpole, one of the nation's best bulk carriers, according to Transport Topics magazine, expects 10% to 12% growth this year.
POPULATION TOTALSAnnual Percentage ChangeCounty20022003'02-'03'98-'03'03-'08Indian River118,586120,9712.01%2.42%1.90%Martin131,659133,8561.67%1.81%1.89%Okeechobee36,73337,2021.28%1.25%1.16%St. Lucie203,751208,0062.09%2.34%2.05%FLORIDA16,689,00216,977,8901.73%2.08%1.75%
JOB TOTALSAnnual Percentage ChangeCounty20022003'02-'03'98-'03'03-'08Indian River41,69543,0693.30%1.89%2.24%Martin54,32155,4692.11%4.04%2.25%Okeechobee7,9308,2624.19%-0.14%2.65%St. Lucie50,73951,6701.83%1.78%1.74%FLORIDA7,318,6977,488,0472.31%2.45%2.16%
POPULATION BY AGEYears of AgeCounty0-1415-1920-3940-6465+TOTALIndian River15.4%5.5%19.1%31.5%28.5%120,971Martin14.8%5.2%18.9%33.5%27.6%133,856Okeechobee20.2%7.2%25.0%30.3%17.3%37,202St. Lucie17.8%6.1%21.3%32.4%22.4%208,006FLORIDA18.5%6.5%25.4%32.0%17.6%16,977,890
PER CAPITA INCOMEPer Capita
Income 2003Source of IncomeCountyLaborPropertyTransferIndian River$39,38937.2%46.6%16.2%Martin$44,28139.8%46.2%14.0%Okeechobee$19,38353.5%18.1%28.4%St. Lucie$23,88549.6%25.3%25.1%FLORIDA$30,65460.2%23.7%16.1%
SOURCE: "Florida Long-Term Economic Forecast 2002," the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida. Data are estimates or projections. Population data include military stationed in Florida and inmates. Jobs data measure civilian, nonagricultural wage and salary positions. Property income includes rent, dividend and interest payments; transfer income includes retirement, veterans and unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid and income assistance.