Plans for Trinity Gardens, a new housing development on DeLand’s southeast side, got an OK from the DeLand Planning Board Dec. 15.
The development would call for the construction of 543 units on 184 acres of land between South Blue Lake Avenue and South Kepler Road and north of the planned extension of East Beresford Avenue.
The 543 units include 425 single-family homes and 118 town homes. Of the 425 homes, 330 are planned for 50-foot-wide lots and 95 are planned for 60-food-wide lots.
Trinity Gardens is also already planned to include a number of amenities and low-impact design features, in part due to the city’s reactions to other recent developments without them.
“We’ve been paying attention, we’ve been watching, taking notes, and really watching all of the discussions,” DeLand attorney Michael Woods of Cobb Cole said. “We’ve been trying to pay attention to what staff’s asking us, to what you’ve stated and ultimately what the City Commission wants.”
Woods is representing Hanover Land Company, a developer based out of Orlando. Trinity Gardens wouldn’t be the developer’s first rodeo in DeLand — they’re currently at work on Beresford Woods, an 89-acre subdivision with 289 units along South Spring Garden Avenue that was approved earlier this year.
In terms of addressing recent concerns the city has had with developments, Woods said Trinity Gardens is planning larger lot sizes — this development was proposed with no homes on 40-foot-wide lots — and a focus on low-impact design and community amenities.
The low-impact design elements include leaving portions of the natural environment largely untouched by the development and other environmental plans like bioswales.
There was some concern among Planning Board members that without regulation and a watchful eye by the community’s homeowners association a bioswale may just be mowed over. But, as Planning Board member Jeremy Owens put it, focusing on low-impact design at this stage “gives them a toolbox full of tools.”
What the heck’s a bioswale?
“A depression that is natural, or designed with deep-rooted, native vegetation that helps slow down water that runs off of impervious surfaces like roads, and even compacted sod or sand. The bioswale either takes up that water with any dissolved nutrients or helps it infiltrate deeper into the ground.” — Stetson University environmental science professor Dr. Wendy Anderson
Residents would have access to amenities like a pool, walking trails and a playground for kids, as well as amenities available to the whole DeLand community, like a public park and nearly a mile of multimodal trails that may eventually connect to other DeLand trails.
The Planning Board still did some nitpicking when it came to the size of setbacks for the town homes, turning some one-way roads into cul-de-sacs, and increasing vegetative buffers along roadways, but with a presentation that focused on what made Trinity Gardens different, the Planning Board was pleased.
“I appreciate that this project came at a much better level than they usually do come to us. I think that maybe the developer community as well as their lawyers are hearing our concerns and bringing a better first-round project,” Planning Board member Buz Nesbit said. “I think it will probably get better as it goes on.”
Neighbors of the potential future development came out to voice some of their concerns, too. Some were pleased to hear that vacant land near their homes may soon house Trinity Gardens amenities, but general concerns about busy roadways, packed schools and a loss of wildlife still abounded.
Dr. Wendy Anderson, a Stetson University environmental science professor and outspoken smart-growth advocate, urged the developer and engineer to keep a close eye on the water table to ensure the wetlands present on-site don’t end up making their future neighbors’ lands wet.
Woods and the others present to represent the project — including engineer Sean Fortier from Kelly, Collins & Gentry Inc. — were receptive to the suggested changes.
Trinity Gardens was approved unanimously by the DeLand Planning Board, excluding member Albert Neumann, who recused himself from the vote on account of his wife selling property to the developer.
With approval from the DeLand Planning Board, the next step for Trinity Gardens is to come before the DeLand City Commission. First the City Commission will be asked to approve the annexation of three parcels — about 64 acres — that would be included in the Trinity Gardens plan. Next, the City Commission will be asked to approve the land use change and rezoning of the vacant land to Trinity Gardens PD, or planned development.
The planned development process gives the developer a little more flexibility than what the city’s zoning regulations allow. The planned development process also means the development is more out in the open before it is approved and will get more input from the City Commission and the public.
The DeLand City Commission won’t discuss Trinity Gardens until the new year, so keep an eye on The Beacon for future updates about this proposed development and all others in the Greater DeLand area and beyond.