deltona new retail center
BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON SHOPPING COMING TO BUSY CROSSING — This intersection at Howland Boulevard and Forest Edge Drive already has the traffic to make it a prime location for retailers and restaurants. The Deltona City Commission has tentatively approved rezoning of the northwest corner of the intersection for a shopping center. City leaders say before they give their final OK, they want to see more efforts to ensure pedestrian safety.

For years, Deltonans have complained about not having enough shopping and dining options in their city, prompting them to drive to somewhere else, such as Orange City, DeLand or Sanford.

To reduce the lack of a commercial and business sector in Deltona, the City Commission has tentatively approved a proposal for a shopping center on the city’s north side.

With a unanimous vote — laced with some concerns about traffic congestion and pedestrian safety — the City Commission Sept. 19 passed on first reading an ordinance to rezone 5.3 acres diagonally across from Deltona High School to be developed into an 18,000-square-foot retail center, known as the Marketplace, with restaurants and office space. The restaurants may have drive-thru service. The second and final reading and vote on the zoning change may come in October.

“The project has been in the queue for about two-and-a-half years,” Mark Watts, the attorney for the developers, told the commission.

The Marketplace’s developers are Peter Pensa and the AVID Group LLC. The firm has offices in Palm Harbor and Orlando.

The property, located at the northwest corner of Howland Boulevard and Forest Edge Drive, is now zoned Agricultural and R-1 (Single-Family Residential), but the pending new zoning is a BPUD (Business Planned Unit Development). The Marketplace is to have buffers to separate it from the adjacent neighborhood.

Deltona’s Planning and Zoning Board recommended last month that the City Commission vote unanimously to approve the rezoning and the commercial development, but board members expressed a need for greater safety for people crossing Howland.

Also close by are Deltona High School, RaceTrac and Wawa convenience stores, and a Burger King. Designated as a Volusia County thoroughfare, Howland Boulevard has become one of Deltona’s commercial corridors.

The county’s Traffic Engineering shows the average daily traffic count on the affected segment of Howland to be 31,040 vehicles. That figure was in the 2021 traffic count, the latest such number available.

A traffic study for the Marketplace estimates it will generate approximately 2,576 new trips each day, but the city’s planning staff has a different guess.

“The project will generate 3,658 new trips on the City road network,” a City Commission agenda summary reads.

To offset some of the effects of the Marketplace on the transportation system around it, the developers will pay to the county $159,833 as a “proportionate share” for “traffic upgrades to the County thoroughfare network in the area.” This payment is in addition to the impact fees charged by the county and the city.

Moreover, the developers will add a right-turn lane from Forest Edge Drive onto Howland Boulevard.

“I’m very concerned about the traffic,” City Commissioner Loren King said, referring to the congestion that sometimes occurs. “Traffic is backed up.”

Will the new businesses lure more people, cars and trucks onto Howland and nearby streets?

“It’s capturing traffic that is already there,” Watts said. “They are picking up customers that are already on the road.”

In any case, Watts said a traffic signal will be placed at the intersection of Howland and Forest Edge.

As for the foot traffic, the Deltona planning summary noted: “In order to address concerns about pedestrian safety, City staff and the applicant will meet with Volusia County Traffic Engineering to explore options to improve safe and expanded pedestrian access to the BPUD site.”

Because of the intensity of the traffic in that area, Watts suggested a possible need for a pedestrian bridge over Howland Boulevard, a capital item that may cost as much as $4 million.

“When you talk about a flyover, you need grants,” Mayor Heidi Herzberg said, adding the city should pursue state funding for such an improvement. “We don’t have the money.”

The commission voted 7-0 in favor of the rezoning for the Marketplace. However, a few of the commission members warned they may not support the project at its next public hearing and vote, unless they are convinced the traffic woes and dangers to pedestrians will be reduced.


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