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Lawmakers push to make portion of Brevard County an area of critical state concern

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A local lawmaker wants Brevard County’s Barrier Island area designated as an area of critical state concern, saying the environmentally sensitive area should be protected for wildlife and residents alike.

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This is about preventing rapid overdevelopment.

The area stretches from South Melbourne Beach to Sebastian Inlet Park and, in some areas, it is no wider than 1,200 feet but still very important real estate for a variety of reasons.

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Mark Shantzis, the executive director of the Barrier Islands Preservation and Protection Association, is passionate about the unique area that runs from the southern boundary of Melbourne Beach to the southern boundary of Sebastian Inlet Park.

“There’s a situation where when buildings are built, there’s septic, and it all runs into either the Indian River Lagoon or into the ocean,” he said. “There is just no infrastructure to handle rapid development.”

Shantzis supports a bill sponsored by state representative Thad Altman that would designate this as an area of critical state concern; much like The Florida Keys.

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With no nearby causeways, Shantzis says hurricane evacuation is already a challenge. Rapid development also threatens the fragile Indian River Lagoon, and the world’s largest loggerhead turtle nesting site at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.

The bill, designated as House Bill 1489, has already had its first reading in the Florida House. The Senate is next.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.