The Indian River Drive Freeholders Association

1938 - 1947  There are indications that the Indian River Drive Freeholders Association was incorporated in 1938 for the purpose of preserving the rural riverfront character of "The Drive".  The records in "this" file do not support that.  However it is quite likely to be true, and this 10 year period of "behind the scenes" work was required to gain support for legislation enabling the establishment of "Local Initiative Zoning Districts" and lead to the establishment of the Indian River Drive Zoning District, the first in Florida.

NOTE:  This presentation is but a brief look into the records of the IRDFHA.  I've recently come into (loaned) possession of one folder of The Association's records.  Like the "records" of many volunteer organizations, these are rather a bit of a "mish mash", and include a wide variety of items, many undated, and some "useless", which span the period from 1947 through 1986.  These reflect on, and relate to, The Associations continuing and continuous concern with maintaining the character of South Indian River Drive as a single family residential community through zoning, traffic concerns and maintenance on The Drive, and the protection and preservation of  The Indian River Lagoon to our East and The Savannas to our West.  This presentation illustrates the strength and successes which a relatively small number of dedicated and concerned citizens, minimally funded, can achieve for the preservation and ultimate benefit of all who travel along this most beautiful stretch of The Indian River.

This "single" file has been "organized" into chronological order (as far as possible) and will be discussed in that fashion.  Other "records" of the association "may" be organized, summarized, and added in the future.

REL - 1 May 2003


Item 1.  A copy of AN ACT (Chapter 24865 No. 1251, House Bill No. 676, 9 pages) noted as "property of" Betty Lou Jackson & Rubin G. Jackson" - which Empowers the Board of County Commissioners of St. Lucie County to .... provide for the establishment of zoning districts within the unincorporated areas of the County ... by petition of a majority of the land owners within such proposed "zoning district".  The final page of this ACT includes the notation -
"Became a law without the Governor's approval.  Filed in Office Secretary of State May 28, 1947"

Item 2.  An undated copy ot the Resolution of by the Board of County Commissioners which established "The Indian River Drive Zoning District"
   See a transcription of this resolution  from our Title Abstract ... with the notation Filed - December 7, 1947, Deed Book 139, Page 334, St. Lucie County Records.
Limits - South Limits of the City of Ft. Pierce to the North Limits of Walton, as specified by survey limits, the Indian River and the East ROW Line of the FEC Railroad


(No "item" included).  See a transcription of this resolution  from our Title Abstract - Resolution by the Board of County Commissioners of St. Lucie County adopting a revision (by petition) to the provisions of "The Indian River Drive Zoning District.  with the notation Filed August 21st 1948, Deed Book 144, Page 243, St. Lucie County Records.


Item 1.  An copy of "Revised" (1949) Articles and By-Laws of the "Indian River Drive Association of St. Lucie County".  (A name written on this indicates it belonged to Rubin Jackson, perhaps the first "President" of the Association, and certainly among the organizers in the effort to bring some control to development along The Drive.  No "Original" set of these documents seem to exist.  The first "adopted and ratified" set of Charter/By-laws for The Association does not appear until 1969.
Limits:  Properties facing "The Drive" from Ave. A in Ft. Pierce South to the St. Lucie - Martin County Line.
Officers:  President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer
Membership:  Active (Property Owners) & Associate (Social only)
Committees:  Social, Membership, Steering (with 6 members, one from each of the following "districts" - Eden, Walton, Ankona, Eldred, White City, and Ft. Pierce)


Item 1.  Carbon Copy (5 pages) Prepared remarks dated October 29, 1951, Annotated "Pete Lins" (?sp) - it is not known if this is the author of these remarks or perhaps the President of The Association at the time.  Prepared "... to bring up ... for the purpose of clarification, the fixture of responsibility, and for the protection not only of the property owners on this road, but all citizens of this County, their guests, and the traveling public."  (I assume, as a matter for discussion and action by the IRDFHA) Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5

It discusses our long standing, and still to a degree unresolved, problems with maintenance along the Right-of-Way of South Indian River Drive (then SR 707), trimming, wash outs, river bank erosion, etc.  Some points of interest -

1.  Indicates that there was general opposition to construction of "the turnpike" (I assume the "The Sunshine Parkway") prior to "four laning" US Highway 1 and the construction/extension of "A1A" down Hutchinson Island - Ft. Pierce to Jensen Beach.  SR 707, The Drive", was and continues to be an alternate to travel on US1 despite it's posted speed limitation and residential character, or perhaps because of it's scenic beauty.  "Someone" has added a post-it note to this referring to the AAA Florida Tour Guide - "It (IR Dr) may be the Treasure Coast Region's most scenic".  Dad recalls when we moved down from Connecticut in 1961 this, or language similar to this, was in our AAA "Trip Tic" and taking a "detour" from Ft. Pierce to Stuart "down The Drive" on our way to Jupiter & the Palm Beach area.  This "detour" ultimately led to their relocating to "The Drive" in 1977.

2. Notes, with appreciation, a recently completed "new paving" job on IRD by the State Road Department, budgeted around $80,000 but likely to "come in" around $100,000.

3.  Refers to a set of 54 photographs which were sent to a long list of "officials", taken October 15th (1951), 13 days after "the heavy rainfall which caused 7 washouts on this road ... illustrating the dangerous condition and neglect of the right-of-way (maintenance) ... unsightly culverts which dump tons of water from the right-of-way onto property East of the road ... owned by individuals ... and (which) cause tremendous danger of further severe bank erosion..."

4.  Makes reference to possible "Right-of-Way" problems with SIRD ... originally 15' each side of centerline of the original pavement ... an "old pavement" width of 16' and a new pavement width of 18'... with the widening generally taken from the West side and goes on that the point has been "brought up" that much of the original deeded ROW has since eroded into the river ... which brings up the question of whether (much of) the present road actually "has" a right-of-way ...

5.  concludes with an observation that based on recent development activity along SIRD ..."I venture to say that within less than 5 years there will be virtually no unimproved property on this Drive."


Zoning continued to be the subject for the year(s), with another petition for amendment of the Indian River Drive Zoning District.  The significant changes appear to have been an increase of minimum lot width from 50' to 100' (with a "Grandfather" clause for existing parcels) and prohibition/limits on construction East of The Drive.  This was apparently a highly contentious, and contested, issue.  News clippings included from the period indicate that this amendment was accepted.  However, there is not an indication that a resolution was filed in the County Records.  They also indicate that the ACT (Item 1, 1947) providing for the districts establishment was passed specifically for this establishment of this IRD zoning district.  Another article indicates that the "St. Lucie Zoning Act May Face Court Test" (This apparently may have taken place resulting in the St. Lucie County's adoption in 1958 of a County wide zoning policy.


Item 2. Letter C.E, Bennett (Washington, D.C.) to Mrs. Dale Jackson (IRD) which includes a transcript of a counter petition.

Item 3. Envelope bearing the return address - Law Offices McCarty & Brown, containing a draft of the petition and numerous News article clippings

Item 4. Single sheet "TABLE 1:  LOT SIZE AND DIMENSIONAL REQUIREMENTS" (This is undated but appears to be similar in form and content to the summary table of Zoning Classifications and lot minimums currently distributed by the St. Lucie County Building and Zoning Department.  It "may" be the table which accompanied the Counties adoption of of the 1958 County wide zoning regulation..)


Item 1.  CONSTITUTION and BY-LAWS of the "INDIAN RIVER DRIVE FREEHOLDERS, INC." noted "as amended April 10, 1969" and "Work copy" - CONSTITUTION is noted "no changes from original", BY-LAWS is marked up with numerous minor revisions
Limits:  The zoned area of IRD (as specified in the 1947 Zoning resolution)
Officers:  President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, and Treasurer
Directors:  President, Vice President, and five others (elected )
Membership:  Limited to Freeholders in the zoned area
Committees:  Zoning, Beautification and Improvement, Public Relations

Item 2.  Articles of Reincorporation of INDIAN RIVER DRIVE FREEHOLDERS, INC. a corporation not for profit.  Filed with/issued by the Florida Secretary of State 18 April 1969 numbered 189530 and recorded in the Official Records of St. Lucie County, OR Book 182 Page 2375

IRDFH, Inc - Charter
Page 1   Page 2      Page 3      Page 4

It appears that this revision and reincorporation revised and limited the membership to freeholders within the zoned area of Indian River Drive (and possibly revised the organizations name), term is a permanent existence unless sooner dissolved according to law, it further goes on to include a list of subscribers and the names of officers:
SUBSCRIBERS:  Thomas F. Christman, Florence Teal, Don. J. Romanello, B.F. Renolds Jr., Grace Renolds, C.E. Corrao, Grace Corrao, Oliver Gish, and Edna Gish
  President - Don J. Romanello
  Vice President - Grace Reynolds
  Secretary - Grace Corrao
  Treasurer - Florence Teal


Various pieces of correspondence -

Item 1.  Letters from August 1973 Query & Reply to State of Florida, Department of Natural Resources Re. designation of The Drive as a "State Scenic Highway".  Query mentions the drive still being "wildly beautiful" but threatened by "sand mining in the area and coming heavy density development" and goal to prevent widening of the drive and increased traffic.  Reply agrees and indicates their attempts "to get this concept off dead center" but refers to Fla. DOT - Roadside Development

Item 2. Letters from October 1973 Query & Reply to Florida DOT - same subject.  Reply includes an enclosure re. the 1968 Congressionally created "Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission" and the Federal Governments consideration for the development of "a vast system of scenic roads and parkways" and concludes with a assurance the DOT is willing to assist in matters directly involving the highway and its rights-of- way but can offer no help concerning adjacent land use ... the authority for which lies at the local level through the power of zoning ... and local ordinance ... by the city and county..."

Item 3.  memo (unattributed) dated 10/27/73, re suggesting that a resolution from the IRD Assn. be prepared and presented to the County commission supporting the concept that The Drive be retained in its present character as a unique local and state asset and endorsing preservation of the current Drive width and that this be included in the new county master plan under both "scenic and natural resources which should be protected" and "road, thoroughfares (or whatever the title) plans"


Item 1.  Copy of two newspaper articles -
January 19, 1974 "Today" Staff Writer Georgia Curry - DRIVE RESIDENTS PONDER CHARTER
January 20, 1974 "News Tribune" Staff writer Linda Butsch - S. RIVER DRIVE RESIDENTS MAY INCORPORATE

Copies of a recently drafted charter - calling for the creation of the township of ANKONA were presented at a meeting of the IRDFHA Thursday Jan 24. hopeful that a consensus and a working charter can be developed before a public hearing (before the state legislative delegation) on Feb. 21.  Approximately 800 persons live in the area bordered by the City Limits of Ft. Pierce, the Martin County line, and an arbitrary line one half mile West of the FEC Railway. ... threat of annexation and new concepts of multi story developments would take away the right to maintain the zoning integrity of the area.  A minimal form of Mayor/Council government is proposed.  new officers and directors were elected -
President - Richard Little
Vice President - Rollin Ankeny
Secretary - Mrs. Van Hoek
Treasurer - George Peckham
Directors:  Donald Root, Charles Pope Sr., Mrs. Deborah Piowaty, John Hand, Phil Thibedeau

Item 2.  Copy of theCharter or Bill of Incorporation prepared for the "Town of Ankona (10 - and 1/2 pages)


Item 1.   Secretary of State - 1977 Annual Reports, Division of Corporations:  Instructions for completion of your 1977 Annual Report


Two Items, July 19, 1978 and Aug. 29, 1978 - Draft and redraft and call for comments in preparation for seeking a meeting with the Port St. Lucie City Commissioners - Subject request for rezoning of that land on "The Drive" which has been annexed and rezoned by the City of PSL (Note:  a referenced MAP of the subject area is not included in these papers,  I assume that it is the areas North of the Walton Community we refer to as the "Walton Woods" or the "Walton Scrub", it is not known if this meeting and presentation ever took place.)

Items of note -
Presentation proports that IRDFHA is an organization representing home and/or land owners on The Drive between the Ft. Pierce City limits and the Martin County line, with the exception of the lands annexed by PSL.
May 14, 1973:  Petition of  annexation (presumably, a petition by NGH Investments, owners of the subject property, at the time, to PSL)
May 22, 1973:  Petition for rezoning upon annexation
June 26, 1973:  Public hearing (after previous advertising and notification of adjoining property owners)
June 26, 1973: Both petitions passed and approved
Claims that with very few exceptions, "Grand fathered in" by the adoption of the St. Lucie County Zoning Regulations, properties along the entire length of The Drive are classified single family in a classification R-1AA, adopted in 1961, (with stated limits, even limits on the construction of "Guest Houses") while the PSL annexed land is zoned "multi-family".
In the five years since (1973 - 1978) the developer attempted to build a causeway through The Savannas, and (largely through the efforts of residents on The Drive, supported by the IRDFHA) was enjoined by the State Department of Environmental Regulation from doing so ... and further ordered by the court to restore the Savannas to their original condition.  This restoration was ultimately done by General Development as a "public service".  The State of Florida has now declared The Savannas a "perpetual wilderness" and is in process oa acquiring title to as much of the area as possible.  SR 707 has been turned over to the County for care and maintenance. "There appears very little possibility of this road being widened to accommodate the heavier traffic under county jurisdiction and budget."  Request is for Rezoning to PSL single family classification E-1 (lot width 100', depth 200'), with allowance for a more dense classification in the land behind the 200' (minimum) depth of parcels on The Drive.

Note:  Through 2002, deed records indicate that the majority of "Savannas Lands" , historic lands of SIRD land owners - our "back yards", from Midway Road (aka "White City Road") to the Martin County line have been acquired for The Savannas "Wilderness Area / Reserve / Preserve".  Some was donated to the state and much of the rest has been acquired at minimal expense.


Item 1.   Newspaper clipping dated December 11, 1984,  Herald Staff Writer Candace M. Turtle
"Indian River Drive is a safety target" - Reports that the County Engineer would make a presentation and call to the County Commission asking that residents on The Drive give up 10' of right-of-way on the East side of the drive ... to keep the road safe from erosion and to provide a safety zone for motorists ...during the thanksgiving weekend storms and high tides combined to eat at the river's banks, coming within two to three feet of the road in some places


One multi page item - Notes of agenda for the April 85 Freeholders meeting
1. Meal
2. Program - Sheriff Robert Knowles
3. Elections
4. consider By-Law changes
   1.  Dues
   2.  Number of Offices
5. Statement by Arthur Fuss
with attached -
uncompleted State of Florida, Sales and Use Tax, Application for consumer Certificate of Exemption
a multi page stationery flyer from Lisk Printing, Ft. Pierce
a "sign-up" sheet, authorizing the Sheriff's Department utilization of parking space on private property while engaged in monitoring traffic on SIRD


Item 1.  Clipping from "The News Tribune", May 23, 1986 ... reports IRD residents successful in getting the commission to drop all proposed additions to permitted uses in RE-2 (the current classification for the majority of SIRD) except those dealing with utilities, and a return to 100'  road frontage (with the exception of "Grand fathered in" existing parcels) rather than 60' frontage proposed and approved two weeks ago.

"Item 2" A number of copies of The IRDFHA Constitution and By-Laws marked up for revision, with a copy of  -

The Constitution for the Association, as amended April 10, 1969 marked "Reviewed & Ratified with no changes on Feb. 20, 1986
The By-Laws for the Association with the notation "These by-laws have been ratified by a required number of members attending this special meeting, called for this purpose, on this 20th day of February, 1986"


There also exists in this file, now marked "general" an assortment of name lists which appear to be either Freeholder Lists, member Lists, or some combination of both.

Item 1.  An "undated list", 6 pages,  with a pencil notation "zoning law approved Dec 2, 1947" and another "15 houses to W.C.R." (White City Road, now Midway Road)  which appears to be an attempt at listing the Freeholders on The Drive at the time and may be the source list for soliciting signatures for the petition to establish the Indian River Drive Zoning District.  It appears to be arranged in order of properties - North to South - and includes 133 "numbered" entries. plus some others.  It also appears to include mailing addresses of non resident (or unimproved) property owners (which appear to be the majority of the names listed).

Page 1    Page 2       Page 3       Page 4       Page 5      Page 6

Item 2.  An undated, 5 page, alphabetic list (with no notations) perhaps 1948 or 1949 listing of Freeholders (?) Members (?)

Item 3.  A 6 page, alphabetic list, with addresses (not many "not on the drive") which appears to be a Freeholder listing with annotation as to 1950 Dues paid and covered with letterhead stationery indicating it to be "THE INDIAN RIVER DRIVE ASSOCIATION OF ST. LUCIE COUNTY - MEMBERSHIP LIST and Taken from Card File in November, 1950"

Item 4.  A 6 page, alphabetic list, in form similar to Item 3 and covered with the same letterhead stationery indicating it to be a COMMITTEES AND MEMBERSHIP LIST and with the notations 1952 dues paid.

Item 5.  A/  5 page list (appears to be an incomplete recap of 1953 members / freeholders
              B/  9 Page, alphabetic list, headed "THE INDIAN RIVER DRIVE ASSOCIATION - MEMBERSHIP LIST" with many handwritten annotations which seem to be dues paid notations 1953 and or 1954 or both including at least two indications of "honorary" membership.

Item 6. An 8 page (8 1/2" x 5 1/2", side punched) list, arranged "first mile" ... through sixth mile, with no forth mile or fifth mile"  which seems to be a free holder list with dues paid notations ... no indication what year.

Item 7.  A 5 page (plus the back of the 5th page) list which appears to be a Freeholders listing, perhaps with contact and dues paid indication - undated - with "RFD Box numbers arranged low to high (North to South) ... with a few (undated, but old) news clippings attached Re. property sales on The Drive

Item 8.  A 7 page (8 1/2 x 14", carbon copy list) which appears to be the "most recent" list of property owners (in this collection) w/o indication of membership, arranged in order North to South, With notation of either a SIRD Street Number (for improved properties ?) or mailing address (for unimproved properties or non resident owners ?).  A news clipping attached to the last page "Dollison Heads IRD Freeholders" with the hand written annotation "6/21/63" would seem to date this list.  This article  indicates the election of the following Officers and Directors of the Indian River Drive Freeholders, Inc.
President - Dwight I Dollison (who succeeds Harry St. John)
Vice President - Alfred (Bus) Hickman
Secretary Treasurer - Miss Florence Teal
Directors - Bill Corrao, Mrs. Ben Reynolds, Mrs. Francis Blackburn, Victor E. Larson, and Don J. Romanello


The documents ( Corporate Charter - Page 1  Page 2    Page 3    Page 4 , Constitution and Articles of Incorporation, and  By-Laws ) of the IRDFHA have been reproduced here only as "examples" of the governing "paperwork" for this organization.  Paperwork does not make a successful organization.  Only the long term dedication and commitment of it's Officers, Directors, and Membership to a common and worthwhile purpose determines "success" or "failure" of any organization in meeting it's goals.  I am inclined to rate the INDIAN RIVER DRIVE FREEHOLDERS ASSOCIATION - with the cooperation of the St. Lucie County Commissioners, and the local delegation to the Florida Legislature - as a resounding success for maintaining and defending the unique character of our South Indian River Drive, St. Lucie County, Florida - for ourselves, for St. Lucie County, for Florida, and for countless others from throughout the USA and the World who have enjoyed the beauty and serenity of driving through our front yards along the West bank of this most beautiful ... Indian River Lagoon.

Creeping annexation by both the City of Port St. Lucie and the City of Fort Pierce, with agendas not necessarily in tune with our long standing goals of protection and preservation of the unique character of South Indian River Drive,  now causes The Freeholders Association to consider and address this growing threat and again consider Incorporation.  We must regain LOCAL CONTROL over the destiny of The Drive.  Zoning, although we may "influence" it, we do not control it. And, we have no control and little influence over the actions of neighboring municipalities.  Collectively, we have a long and glorius history of successes in preserving the character of The Drive - for all.  We owe a great debt of gratitude to our predessor Freeholders, County Commisioners, and  State Legislative Delegates.  We also bear a heavy responsibility to continue their efforts - and must not fail in these efforts.   This may be our last, and best, chance to preserve "The Drive down to Paradise" - within our own municipality.

To accomplish this, a committee to Study the Feasibility of Incorporating "our" stretch of The Drive was authorized in October 2001.  The work of this committee has been extensive, exhaustive, and is still an ongoing effort.

In 2005, the Constitution and Articles of Incorporation for the IRDF, Inc was revised to expand the Associations boundary limits and redefine the composition of it's Board of Directors.  I don't know if it was recorded with the St. Lucie County Clerk of Court, or refiled as a Charter amendment with the Secretary of State.

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