News & Events
King Ranch to move forward with AgTEC Plan in Martin County after State’s Planning Agency gives final approval
July 14, 2011
AgTEC becomes law after Florida Department of Community Affairs issues Final Order and dismisses all opposition arguments
MARTIN COUNTY, FL – 07/14/2011 – King Ranch’s AgTEC (Agricultural and Targeted Employment Center) plan received final approval today from the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) - the state’s planning agency. The Final Order was the long awaited conclusion to a review process that had been delayed by a legal challenge filed in October 2010 by the Martin County Conservation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Florida, and Donna Melzer. The Final Order means the AgTEC amendment is now law and a formal part of Martin County's Comprehensive Growth Management Plan.
After two years, and significant review by local, regional and state agencies, King Ranch can now focus on their efforts to attract new employers to their property along I-95 in western Martin County. They will also continue researching alternative agricultural uses for their land and begin planning environmental restoration activities that could benefit the water quality in the C-23 canal and ultimately the St. Lucie River and coastal areas.
“From the very beginning, our approach has been to demonstrate that economic development was not mutually exclusive from the continuation of economically viable agriculture and environmental restoration. In order to achieve this goal, we set out to inform and engage the public about our plans, making adjustments and improvements along the way. The end result is a long-term vision for the property that will be beneficial to the community,” said Mitch Hutchcraft, Vice President of Real Estate for King Ranch/Consolidated Citrus, LP.
“The Final Order validates our efforts, rebuffs the baseless opposition of a few individuals, and allows us to turn our attention to more detailed site planning, continued coordination with regional partners, and initiating conversations with potential end users about relocating or expanding at our AgTEC site.” added Hutchcraft.
While the AgTEC plan was adopted by the Martin County Board of County Commissioners in August 2010, it took an extra year to resolve the legal challenge and react to the opposition’s heavily funded misinformation campaign - which created unwarranted fear and misunderstanding among some citizens about the plans. The Final Order demonstrates that the misstatements and concerns raised by the Martin County Conservation Alliance, Donna Melzer and 1000 Friend of Florida have "no merit", as stated by the Administrative Law Judge, and confirmed by the Department of Community Affairs.
Many residents are pleased about AgTEC and are hopeful that King Ranch will be able to begin the recruitment process to attract good paying jobs and targeted industries to the region. “As a seventh-generation Floridian, I’ve seen the changing landscape of our state and Martin County and understand the importance of good planning,” said Ricou “Rick” Hartman, a resident of Stuart West in Palm City. “King Ranch's reputation is solid, and Martin County is fortunate to have a landowner willing to take a long-term view and invest in our community.”
Facts about the AgTEC plan in western Palm City
• AgTEC is site specific, meaning the new land use plan only applies to the 1,717-acre King Ranch property located along I-95 in western Palm City, Florida.
• AgTEC complies with Martin County's forty-foot height limit – This requirement was clearly included in every submittal King Ranch made to the county. The Martin County Conservation Alliance knows this to be true.
• AgTEC’s environmental enhancement component provides an opportunity for water restoration efforts that could improve the quality of groundwater in Martin County. King Ranch will be investigating ways to partner with the County and the South Florida Water Management District to use innovative storage and filtration methods to clean the water flowing through the C-23 canal which ultimately winds up in St. Lucie River.
• Our eleven page amendment containing detailed conditions and site design requirements - all now adopted into Martin County’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan - contain three typographical errors. However, the judge, the State, and Martin County concluded that they are "non-substantive", and have "no bearing on the consistency of the amendment". This means the amendment is accurate and fully in force, regardless of the correction of those three typographical errors. Martin County has indicated that the typos will be cleaned up as part of future County initiated corrections to the comprehensive plan.
King Ranch, a private diversified agribusiness, and its subsidiary Consolidated Citrus LP (CCLP), the largest citrus grower in Florida, have spent the last two years refining the plan for their 1,717-acre citrus grove in Palm City, Florida. The grove had become 100 percent impacted by citrus greening and citrus is no longer viable on the property. The property’s prime location, and synergy of adjacent uses and existing infrastructure, coupled with King Ranch’s nationally recognized reputation, will aid in the pursuit of targeted employers to diversify the local economy. For more information go to www.agtectreasurecoast.com or www.facebook.com/AgTEC.
About King Ranch and Consolidated Citrus, LP
King Ranch, Inc. is a private, diversified agribusiness company and one of the largest family-owned landowners in the United States. The company operates in Texas, Florida and New Mexico, and at 825,000 acres, its Texas ranch is one of the largest in the country. The King Ranch family has consistently supported a strong environmental stewardship ethic, as evidenced by the establishment of the Kleberg Wildlife Research Center and Institute, and the partnership with Texas A&M in the University’s Ranch Management program.
King Ranch is also the primary owner of Consolidated Citrus LP (CCLP), which is one of the largest citrus growers in Florida, with holdings in seven Florida counties. CCLP is also the largest private landowner in Martin County.
King Ranch’s other operations include innovations in cattle and horse breeding, mineral development, and the production or processing of a number of agricultural commodities including cotton, milo, sugar cane, sod, pecans, sweet corn, green beans, and other vegetables. King Ranch is also active in the publishing, retail and eco-tourism industries. For more information about King Ranch, go to www.king-ranch.com.