New Scottsmoor-area Community Development District OK'd

Posted on December 1, 2015

One of North Brevard County's largest landowners received permission Tuesday to create a special taxing district on some of its land as a way to help pay for roads, water lines, sewer lines, underground electrical connections and other facilities within its district.

Miami Corp. and an affiliated company, Swallowtail LLC, came before the Brevard County Commission to establish the Farmton-Brevard Community Development District on 983 acres of land they own in the Scottsmoor area in northwest Brevard. Commissioners unanimously approved the plan.

Eventually, the district is anticipated to have up to 2,306 residential units; 1.15 million square feet of commercial, office and industrial space; a 200-room hotel; and 50,000 square feet of public institutional space, such as schools, medical facilities and fire stations.

Miami Corp. attorney Glenn Storch said creation of the district will have no direct impact on Brevard County property tax revenue, as it will not change the county's tax rate or where the money goes. It will have a separate special tax assessment charged to the landowners within the district.

"A community development district is a district that taxes itself to provide for infrastructure," Storch said. "This is all landowner-funded. This does not take anything away from county government."

One potential way for this to happen is, if a company wants build a hotel on the Miami Corp./Swallowtail land, it would be charged a special community development district assessment to help pay for infrastructure, Storch said.

Another example, according to Brevard County Planning and Development Director Robin Sobrino, is if homes are developed on the land in the future. Individual homeowners would pay a special assessment into the community development district for use in helping pay for infrastructure within the district. But, again, whatever money is collected by the community development district would not affect property taxes collected by Brevard County for its general fund or other purposes like law enforcement, fire control or libraries.

Storch describes the area contained in the Farmton-Brevard Community Development District as the "economic development gateway" to Miami Corp.'s local property holdings.

"This is a job-creation proposal," Storch told county commissioners.

Storch said there is no specific timeline for development within the area, but he expects initial construction of infrastructure to begin next spring.

Miami Corp. and Swallowtail estimate that the Farmton-Brevard Community Development District would need a total of $81.73 million worth of infrastructure. The largest single category of work would be for $19 million in improvements of Deering Parkway, including extending the road farther west of Scottsmoor exit of Interstate 95. Deering Parkway, also is called County Road 5A, and previously was known as Stuckway Road. Storch said the name change to Deering helps market the property better.

Because the proposed community development district encompasses less that 1,000 acres, the County Commission is authorized by state statute to approve or deny the Miami Corp./Swallowtail request, Sobrino said

The proposal was reviewed by the county's planning and development, public works and utility services departments.

In all, Miami Corp. and Swallowtail control about 11,500 acres in northern Brevard County and 47,000 acres in southern Volusia County in what's known as the Farmton Tract. The area now is dominated by tree-farming operations.

Chicago-based Miami Corp.'s long-range plan is to have retail, commercial, industrial and residential development on some of the land, while setting aside at least 75 percent of the land for conservation.

In Sobrino's report to county commissioners, she said the planned "mixed-use area" for development "will encourage compact development of residential, employment and recreational opportunities."

Storch said, as development occurs on the land, the value of the property increases, leading to increased property tax revenue for Brevard County.

Storch told commissioners that Farmton will continue to work with nearby property owners to address any concerns they have with the project.

Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, whose district includes the Scottsmoor area, said he believes the Farmton development "is going to create value" for the neighboring property owners.

In August, county commissioners unanimously approved two zoning changes on a total of 16.8 acres of the companies' property near the I-95 Scottsmoor exit.

One change, on about 8 acres of land that had been zoned for agriculture, allows a hotel and other commercial and retail development, under its new "transient tourist commercial" zoning.

The other change, on about 8.8 acres of land that had been zoned for agriculture, allows a range of retail and commercial uses under its new business zoning.

The new Farmton-Brevard Community Development District will be governed by a five-member board of supervisors that will include Storch.

The district will not have any zoning or development permitting authority. Development of land within the district will be subject to Brevard County land-development regulations.

Sobrino said Miami Corp. has not filed request for any specific commercial or residential projects.

"We're still waiting to see what they're planning on doing," Sobrino said.

Any development would go through the county's site-plan review process.

There are 10 other community development districts in Brevard County, according to Aaron Frisbee, public affairs administrator for the Brevard County Tax Collector's Office.

Among the more well-known local community development districts are ones in Baytree and Viera East.

Swallowtail last year received approval from the Edgewater City Council to form a community development district on about 900 acres of land it owns in that Volusia County community.

Miami Corp. was founded by the Deering family, descendants of the founders of what became known as International Harvester.

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