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Hobe Sound residents angered that dead-end road being connected to other street

'It just seems wrong just to bully people,' Tonja Hineman says
Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 18:06:21-04

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — Neighbors in a Hobe Sound community were stunned to discover that their road, which has been a dead-end for decades, was being bulldozed and opened up as part of a repaving project.

It's happening at the end of Sharon Street in the Hobe Hills community.

Residents said they feel they were misled by Martin County officials.

"There was a dead end, and it just made you feel really safe," resident Tonja Hineman said.

Tonja Hineman, Hobe Sound resident discusses removal of berm
Tonja Hineman explains why she is against the removal of the berm in her neighborhood.

She said the berm is one reason why she moved to the area seven years ago.

"You're really close to the state park and you're really close to the beach, and it just seemed like a dream come true to live here," Hineman said.

She was shocked and saddened to see heavy equipment last week toppling that berm as part of a plan to connect her street to another road that was getting paved.

Last year the county sent out a survey to residents in the entire Hobe Hills and Papaya Village neighborhood asking them if they wanted to see roads like Sharon Street interconnected.

Martin County Commissioner Ed Ciampi speaks at an Aug. 24, 2021 commission me
Martin County Commissioner Ed Ciampi speaks at an Aug. 24, 2021 commission meeting regarding the removal of the berm.

According to the county, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said no to the plan.

So, why is this happening?

Commissioners last August approved a plan to allow the road connection as part of a separate repaving project.

Two weeks later residents expressed their concerns over the vote and commissioners responded.

"I am only interested in stopping the destruction of the existing berm," Commissioner Ed Ciampi said during an Aug. 24 commission meeting.

"If the neighborhood, the majority of the neighborhood, want it to be the way it is, that's the way we should do it," said Commissioner Harold Jenkins during the August meeting.

Deputy Public Works Director George Dzama speaks about Hobe Sound berm controversy
Deputy Public Works Director George Dzama explains why crews are connecting the two roads.

Deputy Public Works Director George Dzama said commissioners could have rescinded the project within a month of its initial approval but did not.

"The county generally opens a road for connectivity purposes. For access of emergency vehicles, sanitation collection services," Dzama said.

He added that a more narrowed neighborhood vote approved the project with a slight majority and in this particular area, it only takes one person to request a change.

"Within the plat, any property owner can open the roadway, file a permit with the county to open the roadway," Dzama said.

Dzama admitted they are always looking to improve their community outreach, but that's of small consolation to Hineman, who feels she has lost her privacy.

"It just seems wrong just to bully people," Hineman said. "Whatever's destroyed can be rebuilt. I don't think we'll give up."