The rural communities of Osteen and Enterprise are fairly quiet and laid-back. They do not create a lot of trouble. They have neither riots nor city managers committing felonies. Perhaps because they are not cities, they neither do wild annexations nor rezone for urban sprawl.
I could say the same for Deltona. It would not be true, but I could say it. People say lots of things that are not true, that is how you wind up with governors and legislatures.
That is also how you wind up with obnoxious development agreements. The developers come in and promise not to injure the community. This is followed by tripled traffic counts, more red lights, more flooding, and more sewage.
Occasionally, the developers even promise that things will be good for the community. No one outside of government believes them. In this case, they are not even trying to fool us into thinking they are not injurious. We should just hope it is a small injury.
As an added bonus, the developers expect the taxpayers to subsidize their profits. For instance, impact taxes have been kept artificially low over the past two decades, so the public can pay for the roads. Then, under “proportionate share” agreements, developers pay for left-turn lanes or traffic lights into their developments, subtracting the full retail cost from their taxes.
Deltona recently approved another one of these cookie-cutter land blights. Fortunately for them, the traffic and flooding will mostly hit outside of the main body of Deltona. Economists call that an “externality,” where the guy making the profit manages to shift the costs to someone else.
This latest project is called Hickory Lakes Preserve. Project names are often instructive. If there were hickories, they are now history. Area lakes become retention ponds, receiving the excess flooding. Saying “preserve” tells you that nothing will be preserved in this latest “Bulldozer Flats.”
So, naturally, Deltona approved this. The developer even calls this bit of ugly sprawl “compact urban development.” City commissions seem to approve sprawl by reflex.
It might be rude to suggest that the Deltona City Commission is coin-operated. They may simply approve sprawl because Florida has too much natural beauty and they want to see it paved. Or, it could be that they are thinking to adapt an old insurance slogan — “Just like a bad neighbor, Deltona is there.”
— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.