110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Joe Crews
posted May 3, 2013 - 2:26:50pm
Tree abuse. Food trucks. Chickens in residential neighborhoods.
By the end of the summer, DeLand residents and developers could face an assortment of new regulations on these topics and more.
"Tree abuse" is a new section added to the codes at the suggestion of the city's Tree Advisory Committee. It generated little discussion among city commissioners when it was reviewed in February, City Planner Mike Holmes said.
"Tree abuse" is defined as actions such as removing more than 25 percent of a tree canopy, topping or hat-racking a tree, removing main lateral branches and leaving the trunk with a stub appearance, or using climbing spikes, nails or hooks except for the purpose of total tree removal.
Exemptions are allowed to alleviate a dangerous condition posing an imminent threat to the public or property, to prevent service interruptions for franchise utilities, or when transplanting a cabbage palm.
The section applies only to commercial and multifamily housing.
"Single-family homes are not really a problem," Holmes said.
The changes are part of a rewrite of DeLand codes that has been in the works for about three years and should be finished this summer.
Among items still being discussed are:
• Whether to allow mobile food vendors and food trucks as permitted uses or as special exceptions. While such vendors currently are permitted for special events (which are not covered by the development regulations), commissioners asked staff to find out what rules other cities have for food trucks.
• Regulations allowing chickens, rabbits and edible fish to be kept in residential areas with certain restrictions, while prohibiting other small grazing animals, such as goats.
Staff is recommending DeLand hold off on writing chicken rules until a yearlong experimental rule-change in DeBary comes up for review in December. At that time, staff will evaluate the DeBary plan and the effectiveness of similar policies in other cities.
Holmes and the rest of DeLand's planning staff began to update the development regulations about three years ago.
"We were trying to eliminate controversial interpretations and make them easier to be understood by the general public," he said. "We reorganized them in 2010 in reaction to complaints about redeveloping properties. The regulations were geared more toward virgin properties."
While they were at it, Holmes said, they decided to make the regulations easier to understand. For instance, there were originally three different definitions for "bakery."
Holmes hopes the final result will be a code that, if not simple, at least is simpler, and will allow some flexibility for developers.
"We don't want to go too far," he said. "We want to make sure owners will maintain their properties."
Marshall Bone, a former city commissioner who owns the construction company Marshall B. Bone Inc., said he hasn't been following the updating process very closely, but he has long been pushing the city to make changes in the regulations.
"Anything they can do to make things simple will be a good thing," he said. "I've always been hollering and shouting that you've got to back off and get government off the backs of builders."
Bone thinks the city got "carried away" in its efforts to make things look good, but that just complicated things for builders who wanted to redevelop properties.
"But they made it financially impossible for anyone to do anything," he said. "It sounds like they're trying to make things easier."
The DeLand Planning Board and City Commission have had several workshops already to discuss various sections of the land-development regulations, and another session planned for 5 p.m. Monday, May 6, at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave. The meeting is open to the public.
The intent, Holmes said, is to give staff direction for writing proposed changes into the development code so the City Commission can adopt the new rules after public hearings in July or August.
The City of DeLand also has a link on its website, www.deland.org, inviting members of the community to comment on the land-development changes.
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