Cheers went up when the Deltona City Commission Feb. 17 deadlocked on a request to rezone a sparsely populated tract on the city’s southeast side for a tightly packed subdivision.
After two hours of reports, public comments and discussions among members — sometimes punctuated by applause and expressions of support or dismay from the audience — the commission voted 3-3 on a motion to approve the Pine Ridge residential planned-unit development (RPUD).
Commissioner Loren King could not attend the meeting because of recent surgery. The split vote effectively killed the project, at least in its current form.
Those now living on acre-plus lots and ranchettes near the neighborhood were delighted. Both the older, more rural portion of the area and the proposed new subdivision are known as Pine Ridge.
“I feel that the citizens can feel good about keeping their neighborhood intact,” Jim McCully said, as he was leaving Deltona City Hall. “I want to thank the commissioners who voted against the project for using good faith and good old-fashioned common sense.”
McCully, along with dozens of his neighbors, showed up in force to object to the rezoning, which would have carved 13 acres into 58 residential lots.
The Lake Mary developer, Howland Holdings LLC, proposed to build the single-family houses on lots that would be about 40 feet wide. Longtime residents panned the lots as too small for their surroundings.
“We have been working with your staff since 2018 on this project,” Mark Watts, the attorney representing the developer, told the City Commission. He stressed that the new neighborhood would be separated from the older section of Pine Ridge by buffers and fences.
Watts said his client’s request is “consistent with your comprehensive plan,” in that “residential areas are consistent with one another.”
The existing residents of the Pine Ridge area did not agree.
“The proposal is not in harmony with our cultural environment,” Eileen McCully said. ”It’s not compatible.”
“These are the smallest lot lines in Deltona,” Kathy Holley told the commission. “There is no way this is compatible in Deltona … We ask you to consider us.”
Other complaints dealt with increased traffic in the Pine Ridge neighborhood and along Howland Boulevard, especially in front of Pine Ridge High School during the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup times. There were also concerns about the effects of the new development on wildlife, including gopher tortoises.
None of the existing Pine Ridge homeowners spoke in favor of the proposed development.
Commissioner Chris Nabicht, to the chagrin of many in the audience, called for the rezoning of the property.
“There is a process that these projects go through,” he told critics, noting the technical reviews related to public safety, environmental aspects, roadway capacity and schools. “Nobody tonight has brought up factual information.”
Nabicht said those opposing the RPUD were offering only “opinion,” a conclusion that miffed many.
When the time came to vote on the matter, Nabicht was joined by Mayor Heidi Herzberg and Vice Mayor Victor Ramos in favoring the zoning change. On the opposing side were Commissioners Maritza Avila-Vazquez, Anita Bradford and Robert McFall.
Thus, the zoning change failed because it did not receive a majority of the governing body’s support.