You likely have heard the term NIMBY — an acronym for “Not in my backyard!”
In DeBary, the term may be NIMFY.
Not in my front yard!
That was the message from some DeBary homeowners living close to property being eyed for a new subdivision. A land-use change for the project comes before the DeBary City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Coming before the DeBary City Council is a proposal to develop a mix of conventional homes and town houses west of Interstate 4 and north of Dirksen Drive.
“We have a corner lot. We’re going to be looking at houses in front of us,” Rafael Hernandez said.
A neighbor of Hernandez voiced an even stronger feeling.
“I hate it! I have no desire for 500-plus new residents,” she told The Beacon.
The neighbors showed up at DeBary City Hall Nov. 3 for a town-hall meeting on D.R. Horton’s request to build 40 single-family homes and 90 town houses on almost 24 acres north of the International House of Pancakes. The project is known as the Palm Road Residential Planned Unit Development (RPUD).
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to look across the street and see town houses,” another resident said.
“I’d love to see this preserved as a nature park than to see 144 homes. It would be a good opportunity to have a park there,” Donnie Taylor said.
Taylor was a candidate for Seat 3 on the DeBary City Council. In the Nov. 8 election, he lost to incumbent City Council Member Patricia Stevenson.
Before any new development takes place on the tract, the land use must be changed. Mark Watts, the attorney for the developer and the host of the town-hall meeting, acknowledged DeBary’s administration is not in favor of the proposal.
“The staff recommendation right now is for denial,” he told the crowd.
The property now has a Commercial-Retail land use, but D.R. Horton is asking the DeBary City Council to change it to Low Density Residential. The City Council is scheduled to conduct its first public hearing on the proposed land-use change and vote on it Nov. 16.
If the City Council approves the land-use change — which is actually a change in the city’s state-mandated comprehensive growth-management plan — the zoning of the property may be changed to allow the Palm Road RPUD to become a reality.
The land-use change requires two votes by the City Council.
“We’re probably talking about a year to 18 months until building begins,” Watts said.
When someone In the audience questioned whether there is sufficient school capacity for the incoming households, Watts said more classroom space will be needed.
“I do expect there’s going to be a need, between DeBary Elementary and Enterprise Elementary,” he added.
Watts said the school capacity must be in place before new homes are authorized.
“We have to check in multiple times,” he said, referring to required contacts between developers and the Volusia School District regarding school capacity.
Those conversations must take place before construction of new homes.
Yet another concern of neighbors is the possible environmental impact of the Palm Road project.
“There will not be any septic [tanks]. They‘ll be on a sanitary sewer,” Watts said.
The Gemini Springs area is awaiting construction of a new multi-million-dollar sewer system to replace the existing septic tanks and avert further contamination of the springs’ waters. Gemini Springs has been closed for swimming for several years because of high levels of dangerous bacteria in the water.
“Are you going to remove all the trees?” someone wanted to know..
“Whether it’s commercial or residential, a lot of the trees will likely be removed,” Watts replied.
Watts also pointed out that any endangered species found on the property, such as gopher tortoises, Eastern indigo snakes or scrub jays, will have to be protected and relocated to other safer habitats.
The Palm Road proposal may be amended, refined or modified before the DeBary City Council acts upon it.
“I think D.R. Horton should have come with more options. They should have said we can change,” neighbor Brent Muse said after the meeting.