Editor, The Beacon:
The primary reason I support Reggie Williams for mayor of DeLand is because he is best suited to limit development and ensure smart growth. Although both candidates for mayor are running on limiting development in DeLand, Reggie is the only candidate who has actually told us how he plans to do it.
The vast majority of larger development projects are done on the edge of the city limits in areas that are part of the county. This allows developers to bypass city standards and regulations by submitting proposals and applying for zoning changes through the county, instead of the city.
However, these developments, once finished, inevitably end up being incorporated into the city, although the city had little to no say in their approval or design.
No matter how much the city attempts to limit development, developers can bypass these attempts, unless the city works with the county to stop this practice.
Because Reggie has decades of experience working at both the city and county levels, he has a keen understanding of the importance of the city working with the county, particularly when it comes to controlling development and ensuring smart growth.
Reggie has proposed to establish what he calls an “overlay zone” in areas immediately outside of the city’s limits. Any developments in areas designated as an overlay zone would have to be approved by a separate committee that includes both members of the county and the city.
These approvals would be contingent upon meeting the city’s standards, not the county’s.
Additionally, this would allow the public to weigh in on the projects.
The establishment of these overlay zones would close this workaround developers are using to gain approval for large-scale developments on the edge of the city and ensure that any new developments are in DeLand’s best interest.
It would also ensure that citizens are able to be a part of the process, and that the developments are required to meet the city’s standards such as sidewalks, streetlights, streetscape, and minimum-and maximum-density requirements.
Without a partnership between the city and the county through the creation of these overlay zones, the reality is the city has very little ability to limit future large-scale development.
Dr. Allen Johnson
— Johnson teaches public health at Rollins College.