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Jack Davis
Jack Davis

In speaking to the DeLand City Commission about development July 19, I pointed out that the DeLand Strategic Plan 2015-2025 — which every commissioner signed — mandates them to follow the DeLand 2050 Plan. Both plans are on the city website.

The DeLand Strategic Plan 2015-2025 requires commissioners to:

• Work toward “growth that preserves the character of the City.” Implement the 2050 Vision Plan. Implement smart growth policies relating to increasing urban densities and protecting conservation areas. (Page 9)

• Provide 4.6 acres of parkland per 1,000 population. (Pages 9, 16)

• “Review land development regulations and policies and incorporate principles that encourage smart growth and redevelopment.” (Page 10)

The DeLand 2050 Plan requires commissioners to:

• Focus growth “in already developed areas and the core portion of the City.” And, reserve areas “outside the growth areas … for environmental protection, open space, and recreation; or maintain existing low-density land use.” (Page 2)

• Use the 2050 Plan “as a tool when reviewing development proposals or capital improvement projects.” Also, “The City Commission and Planning Board are the ‘Vision Coordination Team.’ The Vision Coordination Team is responsible for the development of the City’s Vision for 2050.” (Page 3)

• Move away from single-family dwellings. “Education of developers, Realtors, and the public will be required,” the plan notes. (Page 17)

• Work toward ending urban sprawl, and protect green spaces. (Page 18)

• Retain existing zoning on land in Category 1. If density is increased, retain over 30 percent open space. Consider the availability of existing infrastructure in rezoning land, and do not allow irrigation. (Page 19)

Big chunks of land are in Category 1, as shown on the 2050 Plan map on Page 8. I don’t think city commissioners are applying these standards to all the development proposals put before them.

Are they paying attention to which development proposals are in an “Area for Potential Environmental Resource,” as depicted on Page 24?

Why is the City of DeLand not following their own plan?

I suggested a moratorium on all pending development applications, to give city officials time to review their compliance with the DeLand Strategic Plan 2015-2025 and DeLand 2050 Plan.

The argument was made later by one of the commissioners that that would deter businesses from coming here.

I never called for a moratorium on business applications, only residential developments. Maybe the fact that DeLand is trying to protect what makes it great — like its natural resources — would be attractive to relocating businesses.

Who cares what developers who don’t live in our city or even our state think? DeLand’s natural beauty has been attracting people to this area for more than 125 years, but once the woods that took hundreds of years to grow are bulldozed, they are gone forever.

It is time to hold the City Commission accountable to following their own plan when it comes to approving current and future developments.

It is time for my fellow DeLandites to make their voices heard before it is too late and what makes our “Tree City USA” great is gone.

I guess our options are:

Hold the City Commission accountable for the new developments they review and approve. In August 2022, DeLand residents will have the opportunity to elect four out of five City Commission members, including a mayor.

The citizens of DeLand can all chip in a few bucks and hire our own land-use lawyer to represent us, since the City is not.

Change the name of the town to DeLando and change our slogan to “40-foot-lot City USA.”

The City Commission meets Monday, Aug. 2, and redevelopment of Southridge Golf Course is on the docket, although a vote will likely be delayed — again. When will we have another piece of land that close to Downtown that could be used for so many things other than more houses on 40-foot-wide lots?

— Davis is a fourth-generation Florida native who would like his children to be able to experience some of the same beauty and nature he did growing up here. Davis maintains a website about growth, at www.smartgrowthdeland.com.

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