Updated Jan. 25:
Mark your calendars: It’s time again to talk about golf courses, landfills and housing development.
Beresford Reserve, the controversial development proposed on the site of the former Southridge Golf Course in southeast DeLand, will be the only item on the agenda for a cDeLand City Commission special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31.
On the table is the proposal to rezone the 168-acre former golf course to build some 600 homes.
The latest meeting comes on the tail of a monthslong saga — marked by repeated meetings and delays — over whether to put houses on the old golf course, a chunk of which was once a city dump.
The last time the project came before the DeLand City Commission, Nov. 22, it was tabled. City commissioners requested, among other changes in the plan, a reduction in the number of homes by at least 15, and a third-party evaluation of environmental data on what remains buried in the long-abandoned landfill.
Dr. Wendy Anderson — an outspoken opponent of the project — has taken a look at environmental data released Jan. 7, and she’s unhappy. There’s not enough new data, Anderson said.
“They have no business coming back to the City Commission this quickly without new data to share,” Anderson said.
She remains adamant that developing on the former golf course would be a danger to future residents due to the presence of toxic chemicals like dieldrin and arsenic.
She pointed to a number of concerns in the environmental report, including samples taken in 2018 from wells on the site that reported pH levels between 3 and 5. More recent pH testing of the wells returned levels around 5.2.
High pH levels, or acidity, is not necessarily bad by itself — orange juice and coffee are very acidic, Anderson noted — but it’s a sign that there is more in the water below ground than just water.
At the Nov. 22 meeting, DeLand attorney Mark Watts, representing Elevation Development, argued that the only way to deal with the property’s contamination is to approve a use for it and go through environmental rehabilitation.
New data will be available later, Watts said, but for now, a third party is taking a look at the available environmental reports. The third-party evaluation will be shared with the City Commission at the Jan. 31 meeting, he said.
The City of DeLand retained two third-party consultants at Elevation Development’s expense. The first is Florida-based environmental consulting firm TERRA-COM; the second is Pegeen Hanrahan with Community and Conservation Solutions LLC.
City Attorney Darren Elkind said Hanrahan has experience working with brownfields — contaminated sites in need of remediation, like Beresford Reserve — and is expected to report her findings based on the environmental data at the Jan. 31 meeting
The November meeting, the city’s fourth attempt at a first reading to rezone the property, lasted more than four hours.
The special meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, in DeLand City Commission Chambers at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.
All meetings are open to the public, and can be streamed on the City of DeLand website, HERE.