Editor, The Beacon:
On May 16, the DeLand City Commission unanimously approved on the second reading Ordinance No. 2022-07, amending Chapter 33 of the Code “Land Development Regulations.” This amendment makes changes to address affordable housing and nonconforming conditions.
Following on discussions from the first reading, members of the city planning and building staff included changes that had been requested, providing for a staggered off-street parking requirement and a further reduction in the minimum dwelling size to 750 square feet.
A discussion of these matters ensued and a compromise vote was taken that ignored the staff’s and Habitat for Humanity’s recommendations for off-street parking requirements indexed to dwelling size. The City Commission, instead, affirmed the current single-family residential requirement for a minimum of four off-street paved or concrete spaces — regardless of the size of the dwelling or the lot.
The commission further tweaked the recommended dwelling-size minimums, again placing the city at a disadvantage with housing immediately outside the city in Volusia County.
First, please allow us to commend the City Planning and Building staff for an amazing job to put the City of DeLand at the forefront of affordable-housing opportunities. We thank and commend Mayor Apgar and Commissioner Cloudman for their gallant efforts to articulate the challenge and to attempt to meet the immediate need of our community.
The challenges of securing affordable housing in West Volusia and the city of DeLand are not as much an issue of dwelling size, the cost of building materials, or the price of concrete. The difficulty is about employing our most valuable unused and underused resource — land.
In the core areas of our city are hundreds of currently unbuildable nonconforming infill lots. Most of them are owned by economically challenged families, churches and mission-driven nonprofits such as ourselves.
These lots are not the target of out-of-town developers or investors, but they are the most affordable homesites for our very own citizens. The City Commission’s recent action does not make it easier to build on these lots.
West Volusia Habitat for Humanity owns 15 such infill building lots zoned R1, all within the core areas of the city. These lots range in width from 46 to 60 feet. They may be irregular in shape, and most present a challenge with stormwater runoff retention.
With the flexibility afforded to city staff with setbacks, etc., and the determination to make these lots conforming, all of these lots can be made to accommodate 800- to 900-square-foot homes specific to the needs of a small family or senior resident. What they will not accommodate is another 800-square-foot impervious concrete or asphalt slab covering the entire front yard for parking.
West Volusia Habitat for Humanity is anxious to develop our city of DeLand land inventory consistent with our mission. We thank this progressive City Commission for the difficult work to date, but respectfully ask commissioners to complete their task at-hand and deliver enhancements to the land-development regulations that will not impede our work.
West Volusia Habitat for Humanity started building homes in the city of DeLand in 1987 and has completed 101 homes, with three more currently under construction in Volusia County.
Our ReStore at 604 S. Spring Garden Ave. in DeLand is a significant contributor to our mission of affordable homeownership.
West Volusia Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit mission-driven organization committed to the principle of putting God’s love into action to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope. The vision of Habitat for Humanity is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
— Jenkins is the executive director of West Volusia Habitat for Humanity.