To help us shape our opinions and make better decisions, we all need accurate, clear and comprehensive information.
Martin County Taxpayers Association aims to provide you with all three so you know more about how local governments
are spending your tax dollars.

One of our recent articles, “Proposed Relocation of Public Works and General Services,” covered a lot of details. (See the
background below.) We expressed our support for the proposed site on 40 acres of undeveloped industrial land within
Martin Enterprise Park, which is part of Pineland Prairie—the residential and mixed-use community approved in 2018.

We still stand by that recommendation, but we inadvertently overlooked a couple of important facts and hope to clarify
two key points:

PRICE: Our article cited a “purchase price of $1,240,000 (40 acres at $31,000/acre).” A reader could have easily come
away thinking this was the asking price. It’s not and right now, there isn’t one. In fact, the property is currently not even
listed for sale.

In January, Martin County Commissioners first heard a staff presentation on this item and rejected several proposed
sites, including the Pineland Prairie location. In February, the BOCC moved to reconsider that decision. They directed
staff to discuss a possible purchase with the landowner, who was then approached by the county and not the other way
around. We’re told the landowner (Shadow Lake Groves) is amenable to considering the county’s needs, but is not yet
certain that it wants to sell.

COST OFFSET: Our article also stated that the landowner “has agreed to offset the cost of the property if the county
improves (SW Boat Ramp Avenue).” This was premature on our part. The two parties have yet to enter into discussions.
They’re expected to soon, and will address the total land needed, precise location, design standards and cost.

We’re reminded that at one of the public hearings on the item, county staff noted that the $31,000 price per acre could
run higher than estimated. Considering that we’re talking about approved, entitled land for
industrial/warehouse/research & development space along the Florida Turnpike, that’s a fair assumption. Whatever
price is proposed, it will still require one or more appraisals. Even then, there’s no guarantee of agreement.

The negotiations process could last six months or more. We’ll continue to confirm our findings and keep you updated on
this matter. We hope these additional insights help.

BACKGROUND: More than a year ago the county instructed staff to seek out better locations for the Public Works and
General Services department. Currently on 13 acres adjacent to Stuart Jet Center at Witham Field, the department—
whose 133 personnel (not including contract employees) includes Field Operations, General Services, Vehicle
Maintenance, Mosquito Control and more—is spread out over several buildings, trailers and sheds. It’s outgrown its
location and could operate more efficiently and effectively if properly positioned elsewhere.

TIMELINE: Starting in January, the county considered four sites:

  • 40 acres of undeveloped land zoned for industrial at Pineland Prairie in Palm City
  • 127 acres at Citrus Boulevard and 96th Street outside the Urban Services District
  • 35.9 acres total 9only 21.2 useable) at Custom Yachts
  • 30 acres on airport property adjacent to the Fire Rescue Training Facility

Despite an initial rejection, Martin County Commissioners moved in February to reconsider Pineland Prairie and enter
into discussions with the landowner.