<p><p><strong>PEOPLE NEED HOMES —</strong> But do we need all these people? That’s the question many in West Volusia are asking, as development project after development project is approved by local governments, often despite the protest of neighbors. Here, workers begin construction on an affordable-housing apartment complex in DeLand called The Pines. The complex is now complete, and already full.</p></p><p>BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN</p>

Not just one, but two controversial housing developments appear on the agenda for next week’s DeLand City Commission meeting Monday, Aug. 2.

First up is the rezoning for Beresford Reserve, the 167-acre, 709-unit development planned for the land that was once the Southridge Golf Course on East Beresford Avenue.

Beresford Reserve has garnered much public attention and become a flashpoint for discussions about DeLand’s continued growth. From concerns over the city’s need for affordable housing, to the added stress on the roads and the environmental impact of new homes, many citizens have been vocal in their disagreement with the proposed housing development.

When the plans last came before the City Commission in June, nearly 20 members of the public got up to criticize the development. Among their criticisms were fears of putting residential housing on top of an area that was once used as a sand mine — or dump, depending on whom you ask — and concern about putting housing on a golf course, where toxic pesticides like dieldrin and arsenic were once regularly utilized.

The applicant has assured city staff that there are no outsize concerns with either of these environmental factors and that all toxic material will be brought up to Florida Department of Environmental Protection standards.

Not much discussion about the development is anticipated at the Aug. 2 City Commission meeting, though, as the applicant, Elevation Sandhill, LLC, is requesting more time to “refine an updated design,” per a letter from an attorney representing the applicant, Mark Watts of Cobb Cole. The applicant is requesting a continuance to Oct. 4, when the development would return for another “first reading” for its rezoning.

To become reality, the development will first need two approvals by the City Commission for its rezoning. So far, rather than receive any kind of vote, Beresford Reserve has been tabled since it was first heard May.

The next development on the docket is the rezoning for Oak Hammock Reserve, a 40-acre, 110-unit single-family development slated for the northwest corner of the intersection of South Spring Garden Avenue and West Beresford Road.

Oak Hammock Reserve received some pushback from the public, too, but after three visits to the City Commission for its first reading, the development received an OK by a 3-2 vote in early July.

Now, Oak Hammock Reserve is seeking a second approval, which will give a green light to the rezoning for the development. Once rezoned, the next step is to approve plats, or construction plans.

Another development-related item planned for discussion is an agreement between Volusia County and the City of DeLand for the construction of the much-awaited Beresford Avenue extension. The City has acquired multiple plots of land to make extending Beresford Avenue from Blue Lake Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway possible.

Now, under the proposed interlocal agreement, the county will handle construction costs — paid for by road impact fees — and the city will handle all future upkeep.

Oh, yeah, nondevelopment topics

The City Commission will take up a few topics not related to development and growth, too.

Among them is a request for Downtown DeLand arcade Gigawatts Lounge to open up a sidewalk cafe. Located at 112 W. Indiana Ave., the local arcade is seeking approval by the city to put tables outside of its business.

The City Commission will also discuss new appointments to the Downtown DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency and the Airport Advisory Committee.

The City Commission will meet to discuss all these hot-button topics and more at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2, in the City Commission Chambers at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.

The DeLand City Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month. All meetings are open to the public and can also be viewed online, HERE.


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