Harmony DRI decides to withdraw proposal to build in Martin County

Harmony: project could have produced 7,000 jobs

MARTIN COUNTY — Harmony Ranch has decided to withdraw its development plans after meeting resistance from Martin County commissioners, Harmony Ranch Development Corp. Vice President Tom Kenny wrote in an email late Friday afternoon to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

"On March 13, we appeared before the Martin County Board of County Commissioners," Kenny wrote in the short announcement. "During that meeting they stated that they do not support our application for the Harmony (Development of Regional Impact)."

The site sits on 2,701 acres of agricultural land west of Florida's Turnpike along Bridge Road. The proposed development called for 2 million square feet of business space and 4,000 houses to be built over an extended period of time. Harmony Ranch developers proposed expanding the county's urban service district to include the development site, meaning county water and sewer services would extend to the project.

In email correspondence with Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Kenny wrote that he is disappointed to withdraw the application.

"The County Commissioners made it clear to us that there was no support on Tuesday," he wrote.

Representatives for Harmony claimed the project could produce more than 7,000 jobs during the next three decades and claimed the property is a continuation of current development patterns. Critics panned the project as unnecessary urban sprawl.

"No. 1, I'm pleased for the county," said Donna Melzer, a former county commissioner and critic of the project. "I think it's a good direction for the county to be going to accept that this is not the right project at the right time in the right location."

As Harmony went through the process, the project gained little public support from commissioners.

Commissioners Doug Smith and Patrick Hayes have said they would not support the current Harmony plans, while Commission Chairman Ed Ciampi has not publicly taken a stand on the proposal.

In December, Smith said he could not support the Harmony development as currently presented. Coupled with likely opposition by commissioners Ed Fielding and Sarah Heard, Smith's comments made it difficult for outsiders to foresee passage for the project.

Such a proposal also required a growth plan amendment and the developers had proposed creating a new land use category specifically for the project.

The email announcement claims the Harmony Ranch Development Corp.will withdraw its DRI, planned unit development and comprehensive plan amendments to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and to Martin County.

"We wish to thank all of the many people and entities with whom we have met over the last 9 months of our application," Kenny wrote.

On March 13, the County Commission voted 3-2 to wait until the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council makes its recommendations on the western Hobe Sound project. The new information was due July 1.

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