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Island Club seems interested in Shores’ annexation

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER, (Week of February 23, 2012)

The Island Club Homeowners Association called a special meeting to discuss the pros and cons of annexing into the Town of Indian River Shores and voted to move into a due diligence phase.

The well-attended board meeting earlier this month is the first step in what Shores officials describe as a “long process” by which the gated community, now part of the unincorporated county, would join the town.

Prompted by a Jan. 10 letter from Shores Town Manager Richard Jefferson touting the public safety and tax benefits of annexation, the HOA board members were reportedly bullish on the invitation to annex, while the majority of the residents present expressed some concerns.

Public safety dominated the list of plusses on the side of joining the town.

Among the benefits listed were the fact that the Shores has two ambulances – whereas Indian River County only has 11 ambulances for the entire county – and that the Shores public safety personnel are cross-trained as police, firefighters and paramedics to respond to a variety of both routine and emergency situations. It was also mentioned that the public safety department issues a great number of traffic warnings in proportion to traffic citations – a 10 to 1 ratio.

The Island Club homeowners present were told that they would retain their current utilities – FPL for electricity and Indian River County for water-sewer service – despite the fact that the vast majority of Shores residents in the southern part of the town currently pay Vero Beach Utilities for electric, water and sewer service.

The result was a consensus to examine the town’s financials, to do a tax-savings analysis and to review the rules about which residents would have the right to vote the annexation up or down.

A good number of Island Club residents are not Florida voters. The process would require an annexation study – which would be completed by the town – public notice, two public hearings and votes of the homeowners and, possibly a vote of town residents, depending upon how the process evolves.

“At the conclusion of the discussion of the above matters with residents attending the meeting, it was the sense of the Board that prior to making a decision on how to respond to Indian River Shores letter regarding possible annexation, it should conduct its own factual due diligence investigation and to discuss the results of such investigation at a Board meeting,” according to the minutes posted on the HOA website.

Island Club is a gated community of 252 single-family homes which borders Indian River Shores on its south and the Captain Forster Hammock Preserve to its north.