October 2009

October 2009 News Archives 

October 31, 2009

Plan re-emerges to shift water resources across Florida

Six years ago, Florida's business leaders came up with a plan to create a state water commission that could route water from sleepy North Florida to supply the booming development in South Florida. But their plan proved so controversial that Gov. Jeb Bush scuttled it.

Now it's back.

It's time to "establish a central regulatory commission that oversees Florida's water resources and supply development," recommends a new report from the staff of the state Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

Read more of this story here

October 30, 2009

Tired of dead-end development? Let's take back our cities!

What does “growth” really look like to Florida communities?  

Three “skinny-mini” condos built on each 100 feet of waterfront, repeated down the beach shoreline?  Million dollar-plus residences unsold or unoccupied? Thousands of acres platted, approved and unbuilt? Subdivisions dominating previously rural countryside? Empty, deteriorating strip malls and vacant office spaces?

How many citizens really want such development? Read more of this story here.

October 27, 2009

Know the Difference Between a Residence and a Domicile

There are many reasons to consider a move to Florida, particularly later in life, the most obvious being the significant difference in winter weather between Boca Raton and the Pioneer Valley. A less obvious reason that could rival the weather in importance is tax planning — in particular, income- and estate-tax planning. Indeed, if done properly, tax planning could provide that last extra bit of incentive an individual or couple needs to start spending winters in the sun. Read more of this article here.

October 26, 2009

Well-knowns vie for two positions on Lake Worth commission

In District 3, along the Intracoastal Waterway in the city's relatively well-to-do northeast quadrant, urban planner Wes Blackman is challenging Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden. Blackman lost the seat to Golden in a 2007 runoff.

In District 1, the race to represent the city's less affluent southwestern quadrant pits Ron Exline, a former mayor and commissioner, against former Commissioner Scott Maxwell. Commissioner Retha Lowe, who represented District 1 for 12 years, is not seeking reelection and has endorsed Maxwell.

Read more of this story here.

October 24, 2009

Bank closings top 100 for year; most since 1992
Bank closings for the year surpassed 100 on Friday when regulators shut down small banks in Florida and Georgia. Financial institutions nationwide have collapsed under the weight of soured real estate loans and the Great Recession.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Partners Bank, a small bank in Naples, with $68.7 million in assets and $63.4 million in deposits. Stonegate Bank, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agreed to buy the deposits and assets of Partners Bank.

American United Bank in Lawrenceville, Ga., with $111 million in assets and $101 million in deposits also failed. Ameris Bank, based in Moultrie, Ga., is buying its deposits and assets. Read more of this story here.


October 23, 2009

Eagle Lake OKs sweetened Florida Refuse deal

EAGLE LAKE - Eagle Lake city commissioners have voted unanimously to approve a sweetened renewal contract with Florida Refuse for garbage collection services.

Mayor Suzy Wilson had asked the refuse company to justify its rates at the Oct. 5 commission meeting, and Monday night, company representative Jean Wilson came back before the commission with a new contract proposal to entice the city into staying with the company for five additional years. Read more about this story here. Read more of this story here.


October 22, 2009

Survey favoring land deal takes aim at Crist critics

The latest volley in the political battle over Gov. Charlie Crist's controversial $536 million land deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. was fired Tuesday in the form of a poll bankrolled by its strongest supporters.

Commissioned by the Everglades Foundation, the poll took dead aim at the Florida Crystals Corp., a rival grower and leading critic of the governor's land deal.

It found 75 percent of 600 likely voters statewide backed the 73,000-acre purchase and 78 percent supported ``strict land-use controls'' to block residential or commercial development in the farm belt southeast of Lake Okeechobee.

Crystals has a parcel of farm land in play for a proposed ``inland port,'' one of four sites contending for a transportation and shipping hub that the Port of Palm Beach Commission is scheduled to select Wednesday. Read more of this story here.

October 19, 2009

Development order renewed
The Jackson County Commission extended the development order for a new subdivision just off U.S. Highway 90 between Marianna and Cottondale.
Greystone Estates, classified as a major subdivision, was first given the green light in August 2008. The permit was valid for a year.
The extension gives the owners 18 more months to make significant progress and keep the order in play.
Just west of Oblong Circle about two and a half miles west of Marianna, the subdivision is expected to have 36 lots on 20 acres. A main drive into the property is tentatively named Foxfire Drive. It proceeds into the development to encircle eight interior lots, providing access to the exterior lots as well, and ending in a cul-de-sac. Lots range in side from .26 to .71 acres.
Water, sewer and electric and gas service will be provided by a private entity. Read more of this story here.

October 18, 2009

Debate rages on Hometown Democracy amendment

DAYTONA BEACH -- Florida voters are still more than a year away from an election showdown about how to manage the state's growth.

But opponents are gearing up to try to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment, known as Florida Hometown Democracy, which would allow the public to make many major development decisions.

Dozens of Volusia County businesspeople and government officials gathered Friday to hear presentations about the ballot proposal, which one critic called a "no-growth initiative." Read more of this story here.

October 17, 2009

Volusia OKs massive Miami Corp. plan
A plan for future development of a new town on 59,000 acres between Osteen and Edgewater won its first approvals from the Volusia County Council on Thursday.

The council voted 6-1 to forward the request to change the county's land use plans to the state Department of Community Affairs for review.

The plan covers a 92-square mile area in Volusia and Brevard counties owned by the Miami Corp., a Chicago-based family land trust. If adopted next year, it will eventually put more than 40,000 acres of land into permanent conservation and wildlife corridors. It also includes plans for 29,600 homes and more than 4 million square feet of office, retail and possibly light industrial space. Read more of this story here.

October 16, 2009

Recession forces architects to downsize

Though the longest U.S. recession in six decades has inflicted deep wounds on regional developers and home builders, the pallid economy has been crushing for Southwest Florida architects.

“Anything related to private sector projects has taken a nose dive,” said Todd Sweet, a principal at TOTeMS Architecture Inc. of Sarasota.

Without new projects to sustain them, area design firms have had to shed workers and retrench. Many firms report their staffs are now half the size of two years ago. Read more of this story here.

October 15, 2009

Water concerns hang over huge development plan

EDGEWATER -- Water -- and its constant state of flux -- often tops discussions about long-term plans for the 59,000 acres Miami Corp. owns in Volusia and Brevard counties.

Opponents fear development could increase flooding troubles and put more strain on the area's supply of fresh groundwater, which regional water managers say is dwindling.  Competition for water concerned members of the New Smyrna Beach City Commission during a presentation about the company's plans Tuesday night. They wanted to be sure Titusville and Brevard County couldn't come looking for water in Volusia.

Read more of this story here.

October 15, 2009

Devil is in the details in comp plan amendments
Florida law requires all communities to have a growth management plan in place. These plans are supposed to provide clear guidelines for future development in a given area. Guidelines include such things as intensity of development, type of development and where various services and uses should be located.
Expert planners put these things together so communities are friendly and useful, providing areas for residential living, business, industry, retail, parks, libraries, dumps, sewer plants, churches, synagogues, schools and the other trappings of civilization. The main reason for putting these plans together is to avoid urban sprawl and unplanned and haphazard growth that has ruined so many old metropolitan neighborhoods. (Think of the neighborhood you grew up in.) It’s a great idea, and it has given birth to a huge planning industry in Florida, with resulting successful communities throughout the state. Read more of this story here.

October 14, 2009

WCI Exceeding Reorganization Plan Goals
Since emerging from chapter 11 reorganization, WCI Communities, Inc. is
exceeding key goals of its Plan of Reorganization. "Most significant is the fact
we have paid down over $60 million, which is 20% of our senior secured term
loan, in the past 40 days. We are executing well on a plan that will generate
significant cash flow and provide the company with flexibility to react to
opportunities once the Florida real estate market recovers," said David Fry,
President and Chief Executive Officer.  Read more of this story here.


October 13, 2009

Federal homebuying program falls short in Brevard
Moldy insulation hangs through a hole in the living room ceiling at 1705 Barker St. NE in Palm Bay, the result of an unrepaired roof leak. The home’s carpet is gone, exposing a bare concrete floor drizzled with glue and tacking.
Also gone are the lighting fixtures, fans and refrigerator from this 30-year-old concrete block ranch home with a pool.
Read more of this story here.

October 13, 2009

DeBartolo Development buys Georgetown Apartments property
A plan to turn a sprawling expanse of largely undeveloped land in South Tampa into a public nature preserve has moved another step closer to becoming a reality.

DeBartolo Development has purchased the 160-acre former Georgetown Apartments site off West Shore Boulevard from Bank of America for an estimated $34 million, according to Greg Chelius, director of the Trust for Public Land's Florida operations.  The sale includes an option for the trust to buy roughly half the property through Hillsborough County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program.

Read more of this story here

October 10, 2009

Cape panel hears about Hometown amendment

A statewide fight is brewing over the Hometown Democracy Amendment, which would have the public vote on dozens of land-use changes every year.

In a precursor to the battle, Cape Coral's Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday heard from planners with the Bonita Springs firm Land Planning Solutions on the effects of the amendment. Read more of this article here.

October 9, 2009

Economic hammer pounds developers
Long vilified as greedy power brokers, many of the people in the business of turning open spaces into malls and subdivisions are reeling from liens, foreclosure lawsuits and bankruptcies.
The real estate collapse has thrown thousands of construction workers, real estate agents and mortgage brokers out of work. But Tampa apartment developer Don Phillips, who's facing his own foreclosure suits, says shock waves hit those who make the deals, too.  Read more of this story here.

October 8, 2009

After a long search, Eustis finds a developer to create a plan for downtown property
 Possibilities may finally be realized at the old Florida Hospital Waterman property in downtown Eustis. Thursday afternoon, the Lake Community Foundation announced an agreement had been signed with Community Development Partners to create a preliminary development plan for the approximately 11 acres of land in the historic downtown area.

"CDP has the expertise and experience we were looking for," said Foundation President Jerry Brown. "This is a good fit for the Foundation."  Read more of this story here.

October 7, 2009

BIG-C opposes offshore oil drilling
The Barrier Islands Governmental Council unanimously passed a resolution on Sept. 30 opposing offshore oil drilling in state-controlled waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

The resolution is the work of a BIG-C committee headed by Indian Shores Town Councilor Bill Smith, Mayor Bob Minning of Treasure Island and Nick Fristch of Clearwater.
Read more of this story here.

October 7, 2009

Fort Lauderdale commission finds compromise to fund HIV housing programs
Commissioners worked through the night on business that drew standing room only crowds to city hall Tuesday.
An after midnight compromise among eight social service agencies Wednesday will allow the city commission to fund $8 million in housing programs for people with HIV/AIDs.
At 2:30 a.m. leaders deferred final approval of a 30-year contract with Florida Power & Light that would bring about $18.3 million annually to the city in franchise fees, a slight increase from prior years and that would be paid by the utility's customers. Read more of this story here.

October 6, 2009

Sea Change due it state growth policies

Citizens across Florida are concerned with the implications of the statistics that register the state's economic downturn. Many of our fellow citizens are part of the statistics, and that is most unfortunate.

Our downward spiral is, of course, closely linked to the national recession in real estate, irresponsible subprime lending and credit restrictions. But Florida's economic problems are both different and worse than the national mean. Read more of this story here.

October 5, 2009

Planning and Zoning Board member arrested in neighborhood brawl
A Planning and Zoning Board member has been arrested following an alleged assault on two elderly neighbors, according to authorities.

Eric A. Geen, 57, is charged with four felonies: two counts of burglary with assault or battery, and two counts of battery on a person over the age of 65, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Geen is currently on monitored release, but continues to serve on the board, which makes recommendations to the city council on applications for development in the city.
Read more of this story here.

October 4, 2009

State seeks $2.5 billion to link Tampa, Orlando with high-speed rail

With Walt Disney World officially joining Florida's quest to build a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, state officials today applied for $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to launch 150-mph trains by 2014.

Disney officials said in an interview with The Tampa Tribune more than a week ago they supported Florida's high speed rail project, which eventually could extend to Miami.

Read more of this story here

October 3, 2009

Martin County growth plan proposal concerns some residents
Florida’s largest citrus grower wants to redevelop a dying citrus grove along Interstate 95 into the kind of industrial and commercial center that Martin County’s economic development advocates have dreamed about, a company official said Friday.

“What Martin County needs is the job base,” said Mitch Hutchcraft, vice president of real estate for Consolidated Citrus, a subsidiary of agricultural giant King Ranch. “If Martin County is serious about attracting the targeted, desired, job-base uses, this is a very, very positive site to do that on.” Read more of this article here.

October 2, 2009

Taking Risks to get ahead
A layoff may sound like the wrong time to start a new venture, like blogger Dawn Jordan has done recently. But to beat the competition, it’s important to sometimes take risks — no matter where you are in your career. Take a chance on an unpaid consulting project that can help you build contacts or try to network your way into a growing industry
Read more of this article here