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<p><p><strong>COULD 600 HOMES BE BUILT HERE? —</strong> The photo above shows a portion of the land that could become Cresswind DeLand, a 600-home “active adult” community on the eastern side of Lake Winnemissett. Some residents and DeLand city commissioners have expressed worry about adding so many new homes while roads like State Road 44 and Kepler Road remain choked with congestion during rush hours.</p></p><p>BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO</p>
BEACON FILE PHOTO COULD 600 HOMES BE BUILT HERE? — The photo above shows a portion of the land that could become Cresswind DeLand, a 600-home “active adult” community on the eastern side of Lake Winnemissett. Some residents and DeLand city commissioners have expressed worry about adding so many new homes while roads like State Road 44 and Kepler Road remain choked with congestion during rush hours.

Potential future apartments in Downtown DeLand and Cresswind are on the agendas

Two City of DeLand meetings Monday, Nov. 15, will feature some serious development talk.

The Downtown DeLand Community Redevelopment Agency will meet first at 5:30 p.m. with one item on its agenda: a presentation regarding “multifamily development opportunities” in Downtown DeLand.

DeLand attorney Mark Watts of Cobb Cole will talk about potential Downtown DeLand apartment projects within the Historic District. 

Two sites are in the early stages of planning for apartments — the Bank of America building at 230 N. Woodland Blvd., and the vacant land behind the former Save a Lot at 939 N. Woodland Blvd., adjacent to the DeLand Regional Library. 

If all goes according to plan, City Manager Michael Pleus told The Beacon, both the bank building and the former grocery store would be demolished over the next several years as part of developing rental housing.

Combined with renovations planned for the Hotel Putnam, this would bring Downtown DeLand’s number of rental units up to as many as 600.

Associate Attorney Nika Hosseini of Cobb Cole said she hopes the CRA and community receive the residential projects well. 

“It’s different than other developments,” Hosseini said of the proposed apartments behind the former Save a Lot. “This is what the CRA was created for … .” 

Immediately following the CRA meeting, at the 7 p.m. DeLand City Commission meeting, two development items that have generated interest will be on the agenda.

One is the preliminary plat for the first phase of construction at Cresswind, on the eastern edge of Lake Winnemissett. Once fully built, Cresswind will be an age-55-and-up community. 

Phase 1 of Cresswind includes 155 of the total 600 homes planned, and will consume 88.86 acres of the project’s total 318 acres. 

Cresswind has drawn its fair share of criticism from members of the public, including people who live near Lake Winnemissett. Stetson University environmental science professor and Volusia County Soil and Water Conservation District Chair Dr. Wendy Anderson has been among the development’s critics since it first made waves in 2020.

If developer Heidt Design were one of Anderson’s students, she said she would grade the Cresswind project with an A-minus.

“When I saw the plans in May for the phase site plan, I gave it a C-minus. Not an F, but a C-minus,” Anderson said. “They have gone 100 percent on low-impact development, and I’m impressed.” 

She specifically pointed to natural water filtration, or “treatment trains,” which will help naturally filter out chemicals that don’t belong in Lake Winnemissett, and help to keep the lake algae-bloom-free.

It’s not all Florida-friendly sunshine and rainbows, though, Anderson said.

“The A-minus is because we are all still grieving. I grieve along with the Lake Winnemissett residents about the loss of trees,” she said. “You can’t wedge that many houses and roads into that area without taking out a bunch of trees, and we’re sad about that.”

When the Cresswind plat last came before the DeLand Planning Board in May, board members were concerned about reports from City Forester Mariellen Calabro. 

“I do not recall another development in the 15 years that I have been here that has come close to this level of historic-tree removal,” Forester Calabro told The Beacon in May.

Well, turns out that’s because the surveyors made an error. Surveying of the site for Cresswind Phase 1 originally said 266 historic trees would have to come down, Calabro explained, but a resurvey revealed only four of those 266 trees were actually historic live oaks. 

Of those four, only two will be removed.

In total, 11,542 “inches” of tree — measured in diameter from a point four-and-a-half feet from the ground — are being removed. Calabro could not estimate how many trees that would be, because of the variety of tree sizes.

Cresswind’s plans, Calabro said, call for replacing 1,999 of the 11,542 inches with new trees, while the rest will be paid back to the city tree fund or in bonds.

Cresswind’s Phase 1 preliminary plat received a 3-2 approval from the DeLand Planning Board in May, but no construction can begin until the City Commission OKs the plat.

Among other topics on the City Commission agenda is the second reading of an amendment to the city code of ordinances that would add regulations for town homes to the city’s land development regulation standards. 

Under current city codes, town homes are allowed on residential land only if the land is rezoned as a “planned development,” where standards are more fungible. This change to the city code would allow for town homes to be built more easily inside city limits.

The Downtown DeLand Community Development Agency begins its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, followed by the DeLand City Commission at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be in the City Commission Chambers at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.

All meetings are open to the public and can be streamed live online on the city’s website, HERE.

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