New Indian River County development sparks mixed reactions

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT
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More development is on the way to Indian River County, and it’s getting mixed reactions.

The county's zoning and planning committee on March 9 unanimously approved a new 84-unit, multi-family housing complex at the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and 63rd Street in Winter Beach.

It's one of now five development projects the county has approved in the past two to three years, according to Ryan Sweeney, the chief of current development for Indian River County.

Some residents expressed concern to WFLX about the traffic the new developments would cause.

"We feel it, we see it, just about everywhere we go," Vero Beach resident Moe Ruel said. "Restaurants are standing-room waiting, gas stations are lined up."

"Oh, it gets pretty busy," Scott Gallivan added.

The South Florida resident of 45 years said the traffic has gotten worse with more people moving in.

"Oh yeah, I mean, I'm not counting them or anything like that, but yes, I've seen a fair amount of people moving in," Gallivan said. "They're doing a fair amount of developing."

Sweeney addressed those concerns. He told WFLX there will be changes made both at the development site and throughout the county to accommodate future traffic, including the installation of a traffic signal, sidewalks and a turn lane.

At 66th and 58th avenues, a county widening project will turn the roads' two lanes into four.

At the intersection of 43rd Avenue and State Road 60, a two-year-long FDOT project aims to alleviate traffic by widening 43rd Avenue and adding additional turn lanes.

"That's good," Phyllis Gruntz said. "I think that'll be great."

Sweeney also said he believes the new development, and the others approved by the county, will help alleviate the affordable housing issues plaguing the Treasure Coast.

"A lot of people are actually traveling an hour to get to work in Vero Beach because they can't afford to live here," Ruel said, "so I think it's great they're coming up with affordable housing."

Gallivan agreed, knowing the growth is coming regardless, he said he's thankful the county is preparing to handle it.

"Because you know we're the Sunshine State, everybody's going to come here," Gallivan said.

Sweeney also said he believes a lot of congestion will die down once vacationers leave for the summer, but said if it doesn't, the county and its engineering division will revisit the problem.

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