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With little discussion, the Volusia County Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission Sept 16 endorsed a request to rezone 85.6 acres near Pierson to cure zoning and permitting violations. 

The case will be submitted to the County Council at its Tuesday, Nov. 9, meeting, for final action.

The land at 760 Bennett Road is now zoned Prime Agriculture (A-1) and Resource Corridor (RC), but the owners are asking for it to be changed to a mixed-use planned-unit development (MPUD). 

The request for a PUD is not a standard one, as the land is a private recreational area for a few families who have cabins there and where they come for shooting and to use a motocross track.

“The PUD is intended to legitimize all of the current uses on the property,” the planning staff’s report notes.

The owners, listed as Saddle Ridge Farms IV LLC, are not proposing to create a suburban-style subdivision with dense clustering of homes on relatively small lots. 

“Where this is, it’s an appropriate place for it,” Darren Elkind, the LLC’s attorney, told the PLDRC.

On the land are five cabins, a clubhouse, a motocross track, a rifle range and a trap/skeet shooting facility. In addition, part of the land is used for timber production.

What led up to the request for the rezoning was detailed in the county planning staff’s report. That report highlighted violations of ordinances dealing with building, zoning and wetlands. The property came to the attention of county officials last year, when they received a complaint about construction and excavations without permits. The owners were subsequently cited.

Shortly before Christmas, the property owners and the county’s planners met to discuss what could be done, and the proposal to request a zoning change to PUD was raised.

County planners told the property owners the cabins may stay, but the owners must obtain building permits for them, and the structures may be used only for short leisure stays by the owners and their guests. The cabins may not become permanent dwellings, and the owners are forbidden to use them for short-term rentals.

“All structures, except for exempt farm buildings, shall be required to obtain building permits and undergo inspections by the County’s Building Division … within a year of the effective date of the rezoning,” the development agreement states.

As part of the PUD agreement, the Saddle Ridge Farms property must have a 50-foot perimeter setback, and there must be a 25-foot vegetation buffer. Also, the owners must secure an “after-the-fact wetland-alteration permit” and must provide a wetlands-protection plan.

Moreover, conservation easements must be dedicated to the county “for wetlands and wetland buffer to protect against future development activities.”

For fire protection, the owners must install a hydrant connected to a pond on the property.

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