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Concerns about stormwater and traffic prompted the Orange City Council to turn down a plan for a new neighborhood on the town’s west side.

“It’s not ready for prime time yet,” Council Member Jeff Allebach said Feb. 25, after hearing the arguments for and against the subdivision, known as Blue Springs Ridge.

D.R. Horton sought to carve up a 65.7-acre parcel adjacent to University High School into 148 single-family homesites.

The gated-community project has been in the making for some time.

“We have been at this for three years now,” Mark Watts, the attorney representing D.R. Horton, told the council. “This is the third iteration.

Watts said the property could, based on current development regulations, have as many as 263 homes, but his client prefers the lower number, 148.

To access the tract and to head off traffic problems, Watts said West Holly Drive could be extended westward to connect with the future Westside Parkway.

The Westside Parkway, which has been on Volusia County’s road program for several years, is to serve as a north-south alternative to U.S. Highway 17-92 between DeBary and Orange City, as the Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway and Veterans Memorial Parkway do on DeLand and Orange City’s eastern sides.

Despite the reduced build-out, Orange City Development Services Director Becky Mendez said she and other city planners opposed the Blue Springs Ridge request, concluding it “encourages urban sprawl” and “does not protect neighborhood character.”

“Staff does recommend denial,” she told the City Council.

Looking over a traffic study, Vice Mayor Bill O’Connor expressed concern about the increased traffic that would likely result from the additional homes and people in an area of rather narrow neighborhood streets, including West Holly Drive.

“You’re adding a thousand trips a day,” O’Connor said. “We would be going from 465 to about 1,500 trips a day.”

“We’re simply trying to develop the property in a way that complies with your development code,” Watts said.

Before the project could go forward, City Attorney William Reischmann said the Volusia County School Board should approve the plan to divert stormwater from Blue Springs Ridge to a pond on the south end of the UHS campus.

Current longtime homeowners in the affected area spoke out against the proposed subdivision.

“The residents of the neighborhood are already feeling the impact of traffic,” Doug Bishop told the council. “Our neighborhood is already feeling the pain of a grid roadway system.”

Bishop spoke for an ad hoc group known as Save West Holly Drive, which he said has “about 50 to 60” people.

“Adding more kids, adding more homes affects everybody,” Stephanie Taylor said. “I’m asking you to preserve the quality of life for those of us who live here.”

After two-and-a-half hours, Council Member Kellianne Marks said there remained too many unanswered questions.

“I think we need to go back to square one,” Mayor Gary Blair said, as he called for a motion to deny.

The motion to reject the request for Blue Springs Ridge, at least in its latest form, passed unanimously.

“We lack the infrastructure at this point in time,” Council Member Jim Mahoney said.

After the council’s vote and some two-and-a-half hours of debate and comments, Watts said he and his client would work to refine the proposal and resubmit it at a later time.

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Born in Virginia, Al spent his youth in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, and first moved to DeLand in 1969. He graduated from Stetson University in 1971, and returned to West Volusia in 1985. Al began working for The Beacon as a stringer in 1999, contributing articles on county and municipal government and, when he left his job as the one-man news department at Radio Station WXVQ, began working at The Beacon full time.


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