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YOUR OPINIONS MATTER — Volusia County gained great insights from a recent survey filled out by nearly 200 people in the Spring Hill neighborhood of DeLand. One of those insights is the way minimum lot sizes might be hampering economic development, and now solutions are being planned

Did you know that you can get your blood pressure checked at any local fire station in Volusia County? Or that you can drop off hazardous waste and old electronics for free at the county’s waste transfer station?

Barb Girtman

If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. In the county’s recently completed Strive to Thrive survey for the Spring Hill community, more than half of the respondents said they were unaware of these services that are offered to the public at no charge.

But the good news is that nearly 200 people took the time to fill out the survey and give us their feedback on what’s needed in your community and how county government can help. And now, even more people are aware of the county’s services, as well as the assistance that’s available.

One barrier to economic growth that has already been identified is the minimum lot size required to develop non-residential commercial uses under the planned unit development, or PUD zoning classification.

Minimum lot sizes were put into Volusia County’s zoning ordinance for good reason and with good intentions. However, what we’ve learned is that the requirement can be an impediment to redevelopment efforts in economically depressed areas where some blight or substandard conditions already exist. Those are areas where government should be doing everything possible to encourage and incentivize growth and rebirth.

And that’s why I’ve asked our staff and my County Council colleagues to look at changing the zoning ordinance to eliminate minimum lot sizes for PUD zones in areas of special need.

If approved, this will provide opportunities for properties that are underutilized and hard to develop because they can’t meet the current minimum lot size requirement.

If things proceed as planned, the Spring Hill community could become a test case for a change in the PUD zoning. An overlay zone identifying other areas of the county in need of a similar economic incentive would be the next step. This would be a genuinely meaningful action that could impact economic growth in a very positive way.

The Strive to Thrive initiative, which prompted cleanup efforts and the recent survey, continues to provide a beacon of hope and help and opportunity to the Spring Hill community. And there’s more to come. So please stay tuned, stay engaged and thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the survey.

We are listening!

— Girtman, who lives in DeLand, represents District 1 on the Volusia County Council.

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