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Guardians of Martin County Want More Safeguards Before Calusa Ranch Development is Approved

Calusa Creek Ranch

Martin County - Wednesday November 29, 2023: The Guardians of Martin County want a number of safeguards included in the proposed Calusa Ranch development, before they’ll support the project.

By a vote of 3 to 2, the Martin County Local Planning Agency has recommended that the County Commissioners, at their meeting next Tuesday, approve the Calusa Ranch developer’s request to change the zoning on the property they’re planning to develop from agricultural to Rural Lifestyle, although the area is outside the County’s so-called Urban Service District.

The Guardians of Martin County, whose aim is to preserve the rural character of the County, is opposed.

CLICK HERE to download and review the Staff Report for Calusa Ranch Comp Plan Text Amendment

Executive Director Greg Braun points out that the Urban Service District concept is meant to keep projects like this close to existing urban areas, where basic infrastructure is already in place. There is no water or sewer on the property right now and Braun says "the Guardians’ primary concern is that this project is far outside that Urban Services District.”

That’s important because the farther away a proposed development is from an urban area, the more expensive it is to extend basic services out to the development “and so ultimately the tax payers are going to end up covering the costs for the county to provide those urban services out there into the boondocks," said Braun.

However the Guardians are not entirely opposed to the project. Only 175 houses are proposed to be built on the nearly four-thousand-acre property. “They will have 70% of their property in open space," said Braun. "That’s a good thing.”

But a lot of that open space will be covered by two 18-hole golf courses. “We all know that to keep golf courses looking good they require a lot of chemicals. And our concern is that there is no requirement for water quality monitoring so we don’t know what the quality of the water will be as it leaves the project and enters into our surface waters.”

Among other safeguards, the Guardians want water quality monitoring made mandatory and, if the water discharged from the development is having a negative impact on surrounding water sources, then the developer, says Braun, should be required to pay for improving the quality of the water they’re discharging.

"We’ve got to understand that it’s the discharges that are causing the water quality problems that we’re having," said Braun.