STUART, Fla. - An extreme sports complex is what landowner Marcel Mullet dreamed of building.
He had hopes of people water skiing, wake boarding, skateboarding, and staying overnight.
"Having positive things for kids to do in this town is so important," said Joanna Baier, a park supporter.
The property is in Hobe Sound, between I-95 and the Turnpike, near Bridge Road. But, the land is mostly designated for agricultural use. So Mullet hired Don Cuozzo to request the Martin County Commission change the land use designation. That way, Mullet could live out his dream.
Mullet's dream turned into one of the hottest issues Martin County has seen in recent years. Today, the commission held the third and final public hearing for the sports park. The majority of people at the meeting were against it.
"We're here to make a decision about the appropriateness of the land uses, and not about politics, because I think that's all this has become,” said Cuozzo.
Commission Chairman Ed Ciampi agreed the decision was political. The request became one of the most contentious issues he says he's seen.
"We're always looking for opportunities, but they have to be opportunities that will fit appropriately in Martin County's sort of quality of life and our makeup,” said Ciampi.
Many who opposed the complex were against what they call urban sprawl in west Martin County. They argue it sets a precedence for other developments along the rural I-95 corridor.
"It is the wrong project in the wrong place, and it would forever change our comprehensive plan. We don't want to spread west,” said Myra Galoci.
At one point, things got heated over a Turnpike Authority letter.
"I've seen the letter," said Cuozzo.
“So, just denying it's not useful, because other people have access, too,” said Commissioner Ed Fielding.
“Neither is misrepresenting it,” Cuozzo shot back.
The commissioners mentioned health and road safety concerns and a lack of public support. They referenced letters from state transportation agencies that raised red flags about the project.
The most vocal critic, Commissioner Sarah Heard, said the project was inconsistent with county and state policies.
In the end, the commission unanimously voted no.
Mullet and his supporters did not want to talk on camera. They were obviously disappointed.
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