“Scraped and Pillaged,” the Former Frances Langford Estate, SLR/IRL

Former Langford Estate, 1-20-16 Photo by Ed Lippisch.
Former Langford Estate, 1-20-16 Photo by Ed Lippisch.

Today I continue documentation of the former Frances Langford Estate, the 53 acres bordering Mount Pisgah and the Town of Sewall’s Point. Mount Pisgah, at 57 feet, is the highest point in the region along the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

I have written on this topic extensively already. Perhaps, too much. So I’ll keep it short and just say, once again…”There has to be a better way to develop property with such historical significance, and once, such tremendous natural beauty.”

Yes—- this type of development is within the law, but is it within our conscience? What was Martin County and the Commission thinking when they approved this transfer? How can we stop this from happening again? Can we?

Anyway—I did recently visit the site and the “Engineer of Record” assured me the high bluff will not be leveled to allow for more homes as is rumored.

“It is the lot’s majestic view of the water that we want…” he said. Six will face the river. You can see that lots are small compared to Sewall’s Point.

Personally, I think it would have looked even more majestic if some of Mrs Langford’s  world-famous tropical vegetation and pond had been left and the lots were not so crammed in.

In conclusion, here are some photos for “the record.”

Thank you to my husband, Ed Lippisch for taking the aerials. All were taken yesterday, January 20th, 2016.

Oh, by the way, when I was leaving I noticed the documents stated that the cleared land had to be “seeded” within 30 days. We’re getting close. The lot was cleared at Christmas.  I bet they put in sod. From tropical paradise to sodded conformity. What a loss.

Front of Langford Landing today. (Photo JTL)
Front of Langford Landing today 1-19-16. (Photo JTL)
Langford home stands on barren hill. (Photo JTL)
Langford home stands on barren hill 1-19-16. (Photo JTL)
The subdivision Langford Landing. 6 houses will be located on bluff overlooking the St Lucie River. (Documents on site)
The subdivision Langford Landing. 6 houses will be located on bluff overlooking the St Lucie River. (Documents on site)
A 60 boat marina will be put in. The submerged lands went with the property.
A 60 boat marina will be put in. The submerged lands went with the property.
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Development documents for subdivision being put on property: Langford’s Landing:
(https://documents.martin.fl.us/Documents2010/content/Agenda_Items/gmd/2015/8D1-2014-12-16%20Langford%20Landing%20Final%20Site%20Plan.pdf)

Previous blog post on topic:(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2016/01/04/langford-landing-a-tribute-to-the-late-frances-langford-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

22 thoughts on ““Scraped and Pillaged,” the Former Frances Langford Estate, SLR/IRL

  1. The way this property was scraped of every living thing makes me heartsick. Martin County needs a tree ordinance, and better environmental surveys before permitting occurs. We also need more oversight of the development process, and more attention to what constitutes preservation and preserves. The area preserved in the process of developing Langfords is a preserve in name only. It preserves nothing in the biological sense, only a visual buffer for the developer. I’m disgusted and angry. Thanks for documenting this awful situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, what a tremendous loss for the community. Thank you, Jacqui for being ever vigilant to expose this horror. Thank you, Harry McVey for mentioning it to me. We must be diligent to protect the heritage of our lands.

    “You have to stand up for some things in this world.” ― Marjory Stoneman Douglas , Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River

    On Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 7:20 AM, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch wrote:

    > Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch posted: ” Today I continue documentation of the > former Frances Langford Estate, the 53 acres bordering Mount Pisgah and the > Town of Sewall’s Point. Mount Pisgah, at 57 feet, is the highest point in > the region along the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. ” >

    Like

  3. It looks like a bomb went off and destroyed a historically sensitive site. Was there any thought given to development and history coexisting? Are they going to add more septic tanks too?

    Like

  4. MShropshire above is absolutely right. Martin County does need a Tree Protection Ordinance and a County Arborist. This should not have been allowed to happen.
    Graciously designed high end housing always sells and mature trees integrated into that design drives prices higher. This would have been a much better project if the zoning hadn’t been for so many units and mature trees had been saved. Everybody lost on this one, especially the environment. I hope they get the erosion control devices up soon, so the River doesn’t lose as well, actually I hope it is there and just can’t be seen.

    Like

  5. Facebook Comments 1-21-16
    Bill Waxler, Anita Bagley Salas, Patty Lee Oakley and 40 others like this.
    31 shares
    Comments
    Lori Dubay
    Lori Dubay The image of greed before you. This is what it looks like. Deeply saddened.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs
    Janet Crews Coppoletta
    Janet Crews Coppoletta Sigh
    Like · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs
    Rebecca Fatzinger
    Rebecca Fatzinger Thank you for bringing this horrible situation into the publics eye as noone else can…personally Im glad you’ve written more than one article about it..things like this need to be shown more than once so maybe this won’t happen again..such a huge chunk…See More
    Rebecca Fatzinger’s photo.
    Like · Reply · 5 · 15 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum yep.. we saw you and Ed too!! Robin and I had lunch with Justin Riney and saw you above the Jensen bridge as we crossing.
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

    Write a reply…

    Lisa Jefferson
    Lisa Jefferson It is a shame this property isn’t being developed by a company with some imagination who would have worked with what was already growing….No imagination…could have created something unique and desirable…a blessing instead of a curse.It is also an insult that they are calling it “Langford’s Landing”.
    Like · Reply · 6 · 15 hrs
    Leathanne Wright
    Leathanne Wright So disgraceful
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Leathanne Wright
    Leathanne Wright Tyler Newberry..Have your dad look at this.
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Holly Dickinson Wolf
    Holly Dickinson Wolf Wow! What a shame developers have the need to strip everything original away.
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Jennifer Radu
    Jennifer Radu Such a shame. So much for conservative growth.. Let’s just allow more communities to be built to sit empty .
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Linda Schilling Mitchell
    Linda Schilling Mitchell Can it be stopped? We couldn’t stop the Renar monstrosity or the Jensen Community Center behemoth. These too were the vision of a few, blinded by $$ signs. They aren’t “paving paradise and putting up a parking lot” any more, they are raping sacred ground. Expensive ticky tacky houses that all look the same with strategically placed yuppie trees. And worst of all on her land. I hate to see her name associated with this. The good energy that was there has been bulldozed away. I would think twice before living there.
    Thank you Jacqui for what you do and will do to save what is left of the Martin Country we knew
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Susan Parks Jones
    Susan Parks Jones Clear cut and packed!
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Lisa Holland
    Lisa Holland Amen!
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Robert Pilla
    Robert Pilla This project shall see the construction of approximately 40 new home which will employ electricians, plumbers, A/C technicians, carpenters, laborers, tile setters, realtors, architects, surveyors, engineers, landscapers, etc.. It will pump millions into the local economy.

    Or.

    You can leave the crumbling and abandoned ruins to be taken over by nature until nothing is left all the while you watch more businesses fail because there is no work. I say to those people crying “greed”, stop being selfish. You were not around for the past 20 years while this property sat abandoned and did little to save it then.

    Also for those crying greed, the property is valued at $7.9 million and the SAGUARO FLORIDA 4 LLC laid out $9.4 million for a loss of $1.5 million dollars. Taking a loss like that is not greed. While the LLC stands to make millions in the long run, they certainly have their neck on the chopping block right now.

    I am not sure how the property was sold; via a public or private sale. If it was a private sale, then yes, it’s a shame the people did not have a chance to acquire the property. If it was a public sale then the people have no voice as to whom it was sold to or how they use the land providing it meets with all local, State, and Federal rules. They should have coughed up the cash if the property meant that much to the community. But seeing as it was abandoned for so long, it appears not to have garnered that kind of response.

    In the end cities change. They are living breathing things. Everything has a price and it’s up to the people to decide the value of what they shall keep and what they will allow to be changed. Sometimes the nostalgic value outweighs the monetary. Sometimes it does not. It’s always upsetting to lose a slice of history.

    Back in the early 1990’s, here in Miami, they tore down a building (The Miami Coliseum) which had great sentimental value. The newspapers all cried fowl about how great this building was and how everyone who ever visited it had fond memories, but none of these people were around when it was abandoned. None of them tried to save it when the roof collapsed. None of them tried to save it when the homeless accidentally set fire to it. Yet, they all wept and screamed for county commissioner’s heads when it was gone.

    Yes, change is a bit frightening and in the State of Florida developers have a bad reputation of going belly up in the middle of projects. It’s unfortunate the land had to be cleared to allow for platting and the installation of infrastructure. The land will not stay this way forever. While what we see today is a jarring contrast to the neglect of the past years, it is not permanent. New homes will go up here. The city will continue to grow. To breath.
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs · Edited
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum did doug smith write this for you?
    Like · Reply · 6 · 14 hrs
    Robert Pilla
    Robert Pilla Marty Baum Who is Doug Smith? I am completely capable of independent thought and reason. Is your comment meant as an insult? If Doug Smith would have written something similar then he too must be well educated, and have a thought process based on reason and sound judgement.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs · Edited
    View more replies
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Nicole Matlack Mader
    Nicole Matlack Mader It’s so disgusting….the Lorax would be so disappointed
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum yes he WOULD!
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Linda Schilling Mitchell
    Linda Schilling Mitchell Mr Pilla, the property was purchased years ago by a big money developer and taken out of the hands of any of us who would have liked to have seen it used differently.
    We all knew that it would one day be developed. It’s just the revolting way it’s being done that bothers me. Mrs Langford was a friend and we take this personal
    Like · Reply · 5 · 14 hrs
    Randall McConahy Gerbino
    Randall McConahy Gerbino You make a good point about cities changing and what may be the good of the community. HOWEVER – I have witnessed the development of many housing communities and have watched other developers carefully choose which trees needed to be removed in order t…See More
    Like · Reply · 2 · 14 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum of course not.. but profits matter more than ANYTHING…
    Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Kevin Boldenow
    Kevin Boldenow Which County Commissioners voted for this project?
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum Crystal Mills Lucas did this come before the LPA and we missed it?
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Crystal Mills Lucas
    Crystal Mills Lucas I don’t recall it ever coming before us, it may have been approved before me
    Like · Reply · 14 hrs
    Marty Baum
    Marty Baum Thats what I was thinking Crystal.. maybe this as pushed through by the “make us look like broward” commissions. I remember eddie huggins got in a world of shit when he illegally, and knowingly knocked down a bunch of this area years ago.
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs · Edited
    View more replies
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Haydee Ullfig
    Haydee Ullfig Money in the right pockets (or wrong pockets?)…. Yes, there were other ways of developing this prime real estate, conscientiously and judiciously, maintaining the character and ambiance of the original property. Somebody just saw it as just so much square foot of land.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs
    Rebecca Fatzinger
    Rebecca Fatzinger its funny but some people are so clueless..one of the days I stopped to take pics of the project I saw a man standing ..looking at the property from the road..I said to him..awful isn’t it?…he said…well Ive been living here for 9 years and have never b…See More
    Like · Reply · 2 · 14 hrs
    Linda Schilling Mitchell
    Linda Schilling Mitchell That’s one of the problems. New people who just think of this as any town USA. No ties, No history, No love for the way it was. We use to do tourism promotions promoting the Treasure Coast – Florida- the way it use to be. Things have changed
    Like · Reply · 12 hrs · Edited
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Lisa Holland
    Lisa Holland Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch – is there anyway to find out how this was approved to be developed like this by the Commission? We just dealt with the county when building our new house in the Landings- we asked for a 5′ variance due to the county’s setback m…See More
    Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Haydee Ullfig
    Haydee Ullfig Many years ago I was working for Grubb & Ellis Commercial R.E in Miami and I found in one of the cabinets a thick volume titled: Master Plan for Dade County. I asked about it and was told “don’t bother, that is already obsolete”. So why make a master plan anyways? Combining unethical developers together with unethical government employees and MONEY to be made always seems to win in the long run.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Kevin Boldenow
    Kevin Boldenow I wonder if any of the commissioners actually set foot on the property before deciding its fate.
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Crystal Mills Lucas
    Crystal Mills Lucas I would like to INVITE ANYONE who is interested to attend our LPA meeting tonight, I was not on the LPA when and if this ever came before that board but I would invite you all to come and speak, its a public meeting and your voices will be heard, your …See More
    Like · Reply · 5 · 13 hrs
    Crystal Mills Lucas
    Crystal Mills Lucas Meeting starts at 7pm at the BOCC admin building on monterrey, today is a great meeting, we are rezoning all residential into conservation lands!!! It is a celebration of what makes Martin awesome really
    Like · Reply · 4 · 13 hrs
    Trena Merendino
    Trena Merendino Thank you Crystal Mills Lucas
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Tina Allen EA
    Tina Allen EA That picture is disgusting ! The county should have made it a park or museum or city center to preserve its beauty and give tribute to Frances Langford and Jensen Beach history
    Like · Reply · 3 · 13 hrs
    Tinker Williams
    Tinker Williams I’m seeing this but still can’t believe it.
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs
    Bill Spyrison
    Bill Spyrison Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch , I think the main goal here is to keep the properties as they are . But high maintenance is required . I think with that in mind . It probably should have been opened up to a be a small resort or other public entity .
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs
    Bill Spyrison
    Bill Spyrison It all comes down to cost . I wish the original outrigger was still on the river . That was a cool place
    Like · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs · Edited
    Linda Schilling Mitchell
    Linda Schilling Mitchell They have done a nice job keeping the Outriggers now Dolphin true to its past. Lovely tribute room to Mrs Langford too
    Like · Reply · 6 hrs
    Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
    Write a reply…

    Mark Johnson
    Mark Johnson The entire county will look like this before you know it, these people don’t care!!
    Like · Reply · 3 · 13 hrs
    Bill Spyrison
    Bill Spyrison I don’t know exactly why this happened . Jensen beach is known for longevity with thier buildings and pastel colors . It’s what draws people to it . It needs to stay the same .as a trustee in my town at my church . We look at longevity and keeping ever…See More
    Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Schooner Lily
    Schooner Lily They cleared it in record time. We did a sunset sail on a Friday and by the noon sail on a Saturday almost the entire river side embankment was clear. We found it odd that the work began on a weekend.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs · Edited
    Bill Spyrison
    Bill Spyrison Sounds like someone has big money
    Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Lynda Kay
    Lynda Kay Omg
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs
    Linda Schilling Mitchell
    Linda Schilling Mitchell It falls in Dougie’s District
    There’s a clue…
    And why it needs to change with Jacqui
    Like · Reply · 6 · 12 hrs
    Charlotte Lewis Glover
    Charlotte Lewis Glover I don’t recall hearing anything about this coming before MC for approval. It’s time for us all to care about our environment. Developers are able to do their job without scraping the earth clean. This scar is probably an indication of what’s ahead. frown emoticon
    Like · Reply · 2 · 12 hrs · Edited
    Dale Hoffa
    Dale Hoffa OH WOW.
    Like · Reply · 12 hrs
    John Soloperto
    John Soloperto Saw the cleared land from Stuart bridge but thanks for letting me know why. I enjoyed the recession and lack of building in Fla., but the destruction is in full demo mode again.
    Like · Reply · 9 hrs
    Evans Crary Jr
    Evans Crary Jr Unbelievable, especially when you consider that the County forced Wayne Hyzinga to replant much of the property from which the undergrowth had been removed with Florida foliage at great expense.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 7 hrs
    Robert Pilla
    Robert Pilla So how to you prevent this from happening again. No need to read this because I live in Miami now, and even though I did my Masters Thesis on Stuart and it’s downtown developments plan, lived in Stuart for 20 years, studied urban design since 1990, and have worked with one of the premier urban design teams in this country, Dover, Kohl, & Partners.

    Butt, if you want to learn something, please read on.

    So her it goes, and this is based on proven working models.

    1) Rewrite your city and county ordinance making it a requirement that in order to clear any land it must be first reviewed by an archaeologist for historical significance, a horticulturist for endangered plant species, and a zoologist to make certain no endangered animals are present on the site.

    2) Hire these people as part or full time staff working for the city and or county.

    3) Be prepared to spend money on land

    Why an Archeologist?

    You do this because you can’t stop development because you “feel” it’s wrong. You can stop development because there is an architectural or historical significance attached to the property. In short Science beats feelings every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Example: here in Miami a multi-million dollar high-rise was scrapped because archaeologists discovered a circle of ancient post holes from the indigenous population along with some fragments of stuff. You would have thought they unearthed an Egyptian Pharaoh. However, because of science the project was halted and the city purchased the land for over $26 million. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Circle

    The City of Miami has had in place for a great number of years the requirement of any land to be developed to have archaeological approval prior to any work starting. Most of the time they find a Spork and a piece of pottery from the early colonial settlers. Sometimes not. But it’s a law and if you want to build, you have to take part in the process

    Why a Horticulturist:

    Florida has an incredibly diverse ecosystem. We have five distinct planting zones, each with their own ecosystem and unique wildlife. For example, there is an endangered species of cactus which only grows on several acres of land in Port saint Lucie. How many of you know this I wonder?

    If a horticulturist can find an endangered or unique plant on the property the State will hold it as sacred and all development will cease. Again, here is an example of Miami-Dade preservation. But what do we know about preservation? http://www.miamidade.gov/environment/endangered-pine.asp

    This has been done in several other Pineland areas where similar species of endangered plants dwell.

    Likewise, this land had to be purchased above current market rate to reflect the loss of income the property would have generated

    Why a Zoologist?

    As with a horticulturist, a zoologist can identify species of animals which may only be present in specific areas. As with the pineland area described above, Miami Dade has taken steps to assure the preservation of hardwood hammocks not because of the trees but because of the snails living on the trees. There is a species of snail which only lives in Dade and Monroe County. The Florida Tree snail while not endangered is considered a Species of Special Concern, and as such the woodlands they depend on for their life cycle are now protected.

    Indeed you don’t need to find something as big as a panther to stop development. Something as small as a beetle can stop development just as fast: https://cicindela.wordpress.com/ So you may need to hire an entomologist as well.

    I offer you all this free advice because in spite of your attempts to scoff at me and belittle me, I still would like to see you become a tad bit smarter by the end of the day.

    So to summarize: 1) change your city ordinance, 2) hire expensive consultants, 3) spend lots of money on land acquisitions, and 4) don’t get upset when %95 of the time nothing can be done to stop it.

    And always remember, how you feel won’t even get you a cup of coffee. With Science on the other hand, you can brew your own.

    Miami Circle – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG
    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 3 · 6 hrs
    Dave Dyer
    Dave Dyer It’s thoughtless development that makes stricter laws necessary and inevitable. I hope no one purchases these properties when it’s completed.
    Like · Reply · 5 hrs
    Don Cuozzo
    Don Cuozzo I believe this project was approved under all of the cucurrent Comp Plan rules. Private land owners must dedicate 25% of there property to upland preservation. This a benifit to the all of the county without copensation. We must have both side follow the rules and have reasonable property rights. Oh by the way my property on Skyline drive is 77 feet high and it is the third highest property on Skyline dr.
    Like · Reply · 4 hrs
    Lisa Gillis Teetor
    Lisa Gillis Teetor So drastic to a beautiful property that has quietly existed and represented ol’ Jensen and now it has been turned into just another neighborhood.. sad..
    Like · Reply · 11 mins

    Like

  6. Facebook comments 2
    George Gill and Lynn Lorna Graff like this.
    Comments
    Julie Vavruska
    Julie Vavruska Wowza! Looks like an atomic bomb went off!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs
    George Gill
    George Gill This is the exact reason I left Dade county. I still can’t believe this was stripped within the law.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs
    Charlotte Lewis Glover
    Charlotte Lewis Glover How is it possible they’re putting in a 60 slip marina? Berry was in a lawsuit with the county for years trying to put in 100 slips at an already existing marina, the oldest one in Martin County.

    Like

  7. I’ve lived in Rio for more than three decades. Worst plunder, loot, pillage and land-rape I’ve ever witnessed. Praying for some kind of supernatural smite. The “developers” should be lined up on the bluff, shot or hanged…and aggressive sharks chummed under the banks to receive a filthy meal.

    Like

  8. this just makes me ill, I can’t believe the greed in people that they would destroy such historic memories and place to build more homes.. there will be no memories or history left in our county pretty soon.

    Like

  9. Thank you Jacqui for this heart breaking overview. As you know, our family was close to Frances and she would have been devastated to know her land was leveled in this way. I agree had anyone taken pause to consider responsible development leaving much of the gorgeous old growth tropical vegetation it could have been a lovely and special and dare I say more profitable
    Development. Not just the commissioners but the greed driven, soulless developer Meritage should
    Be shamed for not taking the time and responsibility To intelligently plan before acting. Small minds and greedy pockets…cutting their noses off to spite their faces. Although it’s too late to save her land, Karma will be back around and I will make Sure I’m
    Helping it along. At the least, maybe this is a wake up call to sleepy citizens to pay attention and stand up for what’s right. The people
    Do have power and must rally! Leaders like
    You Jacqui can direct our energy. Carry on with the good you do, we are with you!

    Like

  10. Thank you for caring enough to share with us all! I visited her restaurant in Jensen Beach, then The Otrigger, in 1979 in celebration of my 16th birthday! Would loved to have seen her estate…

    Liked by 1 person

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