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'It's very important:' Indian River County residents give input on where new residents should live

'This is going to dictate how the county will grow in the future, where we deliver services, where we have development,' Susan Adams says
Posted at 7:07 PM, May 08, 2024

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — Indian River County is planning for future growth.

Resident Karen Ronk is part of that process. She said she'd like to see the county implement housing types like townhomes, mixed-use development and mid-rise apartments.

"That's the way we get to use the land better—denser and we get, hopefully, maybe, a little more affordable," Ronk said.

She’s moved all over South Florida trying to escape over-development. Six months ago she made Indian River County her home.

Indian River County resident Karen Ronk development process May 2024.png
Resident Karen Ronk says she'd like to see the county implement mixed housing types.

"I was tired of the congestion and the overcrowding and the overbuilding and I wanted a place that was more natural and more like the Florida I grew up in," Ronk said.

She was one of dozens of residents who attended an Indian River County workshop on Wednesday. They focused on asking residents about the Urban Service Boundary.

"It's very important because this is going to dictate how the county will grow in the future, where we deliver services, where we have development," Susan Adams, Indian River County commissioner and chairman, said.

Indian River County commissioner and chairman Susan Adams May 2024.png
Indian River County commissioner and chairman Susan Adams says community input is critical for the county's future.

Currently, the county is planning for 25% growth in the next 25 years. That's an addition of about 40,000 residents.

Adams said community input is needed to determine where to allow development.

"Where do they want to see growth? What kind of growth do they want to see? What type of infrastructure are they concerned about?" she said.

Participants placed dots where they'd like to see new residents move in. Some said they would prefer increased density and affordability.

Ellen Kendall resident and board president of John's Island Community Service League May 2024
Ellen Kendall, resident and board president of John's Island Community Service League, says it’s very important to have affordable housing.

"There's got to be some change. There's got to be some mixed-use housing. You know, it can't just all be single-family homes," Ronk said.

"I think it’s very important that we have affordable housing for our workers and I'd like to see that done within the service line," Ellen Kendall, resident and board president of John's Island Community Service League, said.

Some said the current boundary, which is almost entirely east of Interstate 95, should not move to protect land to the west.

Resident Michael Walter Indian River County development May 2024.png
Resident Michael Walter thinks the county should increase density in order to preserve agricultural and environmental lands.

"I think we need to increase density in order to preserve what agricultural lands and environmental lands we have remaining in the county," resident Michael Walter said.

The county is holding four more workshops. The next two are on May 22 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Intergenerational Recreation Center in Vero Beach.

The last two will be on May 29 at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the County Commission chambers in Vero Beach.