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Martin County set to decide on new zoning designation

Developer says project will provide public benefits
Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 17:50:10-04

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — Martin County commissioners will decide whether to add a new zoning designation that would create a “rural lifestyle” land use on Tuesday.

On Monday, WPTV spoke with the landowner at the center of the first development that would fall under the new rules.

North of Bridge Road in Hobe Sound, Tom Hurley points to an old citrus grove his family farmed until the mid-2000s.

“The diseases and the hurricanes really set us back,” Hurley said.

Now this site, west of Hobe Sound along Bridge Road, could become Atlantic Fields— 317 multi-million dollar homes built on a portion of the 1,500 acres that’s currently the Hobe Sound Polo Club.

"Typically on a parcel like this, you would see thousands and thousands of homes," said Hurley, "we don’t want that.”

Back in February, dozens came out to protest when the “rural lifestyle” zoning designation was first discussed, concerned that the county’s comprehensive plan and existing urban service districts would be ignored.

“The only thing that follows up is them walking in and saying, ‘I’d like that land use,'" said Martin County Conservation Alliance Chair Donna Melzer at the time.

“Fear is that it would proliferate through the rest of the county. Practical reality, it would be three projects probably that would be very additive to the tax base. It would be low density, low services required but very high lot prices,” said Hurley.

Hurley says beyond the potential $20 million in annual tax revenue, the developers would donate an equestrian facility to Atlantic Ridge State Park and provide more public access, along with restoring wetlands, and placing his family’s 800-acre tree farm into a permanent agricultural easement.

“This type of development that creates a lot of revenue and a lot of jobs without a lot of impact is really what Martin County should be thinking about,” said Hurley.