Fla. Coalition: Briny Plan is Recipe for Chaotic Hurricane Evacuation

June 27, 2007

The Florida Coalition for Preservation has asked Secretary Thomas Pelham of the Florida Department of Community Affairs to consider a host of costs that will be borne by taxpayers if the agency accepts the “irresponsible” redevelopment plan proposed at Briny Breezes.

Former Congressman Tom Evans, Chairman of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, cautioned Secretary Pelham, saying the go-ahead for Briny Breezes to become one of the most densely populated areas on Florida’s east coast would strain local infrastructure while putting an overwhelming number of residents in a high-risk hurricane zone. Furthermore, it most definitely would cause evacuation problems and force Floridians to carry a multi-billion dollar insurance liability.

“Virtually all of those from whom you have received comments are strongly opposed to the amendments to the comprehensive plan because it is totally incompatible with the communities in the area of Briny,” Evans wrote in the letter. “It will also dangerously stress the surrounding infrastructure because of its density.”

Evans added that the increased density from the proposed plan would quadruple the population of Briny Breezes and strain area infrastructure to the breaking point, further congesting an already overtaxed transportation system and setting the stage for chaos during a forced hurricane evacuation.

“I do not believe any of the submissions addressed the issue of insurance or the unnecessary potential cost to Florida and U.S. taxpayers. Placing substantially more people in an extremely small area that is vulnerable and storm prone certainly increases the risk,” said Evans, who authored the Coastal Barrier Resources Act signed by President Reagan in 1982. “Briny Breezes is in the middle of ‘hurricane alley’ and common sense tells us that we should not put more people in harm’s way. We must not play Russian Roulette with people’s lives and property.”

Because the negative impact on those paying taxes and insurance premiums should be a major consideration, Evans urged Secretary Pelham to include all the risks and costs in his review of the proposed plan for Briny Breezes, especially taxes and insurance premiums.

“I hope that after your thorough review of the amendments to the comprehensive plan you will recognize that the citizens of this great state will be served best now and in the future by your outright rejection of this totally overzealous plan. It cannot be resolved by a few cosmetic changes and everyone needs to begin again with more realistic and reasonable plans,” Evans said.

According to Evans, developers want to jam tiny Briny Breezes with multiple high-rise towers housing 900 condominium units, 300 timeshare units, a 349-room luxury hotel, restaurants, retail shops, parking facilities and a yacht marina – all on an environmentally fragile, hurricane-vulnerable barrier island.

Source: Business Wire

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