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With barely enough members present to conduct official business, the Volusia County planning board approved a proposal for a new neighborhood near the DeLand train station.

The Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the project known as the Estates at Pelham Square at its Oct. 24 meeting.

The development will include the construction of 141 single-family homes on almost 40 acres along West Euclid and Ridgewood avenues. Two parcels are involved in the proposal. The larger of the two, a 30-acre tract, is already within the SunRail DeLand Area Activity Center.

The Activity Center is a special zone the county created more than a decade ago in anticipation of the commuter-rail system having DeLand as its northern terminus.

More recently, the prospects for SunRail’s service to be extended from DeBary to DeLand have dimmed, as the estimated cost of laying about 12 miles of parallel track, building a SunRail depot next to the Amtrak station, and improving the at-grade crossings with roads now tops $100 million.

Volusia County would have to pay about 20 percent of the expense, and county leaders have asked to exit the inter-local SunRail partnership because of the rising costs and the lack of fulfillment of the original contractual provision for commuter-rail service originating from and ending at DeLand.

The SunRail DeLand Area Activity Center will feature “a mix of housing, employment, and retail uses,” according to the planning summary.

The PLDRC’s recommendation for the rezoning request is set to go before the County Council for final action Dec. 3.

The owner of the tract, Trains End LLC, had originally planned to develop 142 homes, but one lot fronting on South Beresford Avenue was given up to provide for an entrance for emergency vehicles. What appeared on paper to be an ingress/egress with a roundabout has been changed to a cul-de-sac, with space for public-safety vehicles to get into and out of the neighborhood in an emergency.

The 141 lots will be clustered, or made smaller than the conventional homesites of former years, and grouped closely together to allow for more green space and conservation areas. The county planning staff’s report on the Estates at Pelham Square described the concept:

“A cluster development reduces the lot area and width in order to concentrate development in a specific area, while allowing the remaining area to be used as common open spaces for the residents of the community,” the report notes.

Indeed, some of the lots in the Estates at Pelham Square will be as small as 4,600 square feet, and the minimum lot width in the subdivision will be 40 feet.

The new neighborhood, as envisioned, “promotes walkability and a sense of community,” the staff report notes.

“Common open space will be provided in the form of a playground, nature trails, walkways, benches, picnic tables, open ‘free play’ areas, and a gazebo, totaling 7.81 acres,” the report reads.

There will be landscape buffers separating the Estates at Pelham Square from existing adjoining neighborhoods.

Because the Estates at Pelham Square is in the unincorporated area of the county, the Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for law enforcement, and the county’s Fire Services will provide fire protection and medical-rescue service.

The City of DeLand, however, will provide water and sewer service in the new development.

Three of the PLDRC’s seven members were absent from the Oct. 24 meeting. Vice Chair Jeffrey Bender presided over the meeting in the absence of Chair Ronnie Mills.

Also missing were Commissioners Steve Costa and Edith Shelley.

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