Editor, The Beacon:
My name is Astrid de Parry. I live at 113 Lake Winnemissett Drive in DeLand. I write in opposition to Vanacore Holdings’ application to change the future land use designation of 4.69 acres on the south side of State Road 44 from Urban Low Intensity (ULI) to Commercial (COM). The purpose of the land use amendment is to permit construction of an 89,900-square-foot mini-warehouse in my neighborhood to serve apartment dwellers and residents of deed-restricted communities in other neighborhoods. The proposed restriction to limit the commercial development to “89,900 square feet of mini-warehouse and self-storage space” by way of a footnote to the Future Land Use Map does nothing to protect the character of my neighborhood from incompatible land uses. Instead, it sets a bad precedent by expressly permitting the intrusion of incompatible land uses through a mere footnote to the Future Land Use Map. Accordingly, I urge the County Council to reject Vanacore Holdings’ land use amendment and rezoning applications.
One of the guiding principles of the county’s Comprehensive Plan is to: “Provide a variety of land uses sufficient to meet future needs while minimizing adverse impacts and disruption of existing neighborhoods.” (See, Goal 1.3.1 of the Future Land Use Element.) Thus, Policy 126.96.36.199 mandates the protection of residential neighborhoods and other residential areas from incompatible land uses such as commercial and industrial uses. The type of protection may range from landscape buffers to land use buffers to prevent the location of a particular land use near a residential area. Further, Policy 188.8.131.52 explains that granting of commercial zoning is not necessarily warranted on a given property by virtue of its location at the intersection of two roadways or alongside an arterial road.
The property in question is located about a quarter-mile east of the intersection of Kepler Road and S.R. 44. The surrounding properties consist of an emergency animal hospital to the west and single-family residences to the north, south and east. The closest property with a Commercial land use designation lies a half-mile to the west near the intersection with Voorhis Avenue. The classic definition of spot zoning is the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of other owners. That is precisely what Vanacore Holdings proposes to do here.
The applicant suggests the proposed land use amendment would be good for the county because a mini-warehouse would generate less traffic than 18 single-family residences, which might otherwise be allowed on the property. But, as staff notes, the actual density would be much less when roads, utilities, landscape buffers, open space requirements, stormwater controls and other provisions of the County Land Development Code are applied. Nevertheless, there is a vast difference between allowing an 89,900-sq.-ft. mini-warehouse or 10-18 single-family residences to be built in an area of predominantly Urban Low Intensity (ULI) land uses.
In this regard, please note that mini-warehouses are not listed as permitted uses in any residential zoning classification. They are only allowed by special exception in the B-4 General Commercial Classification. They are also allowed as principal permitted uses in the B-5 Heavy Commercial Classification with a maximum lot coverage not to exceed 35 percent.
The Urban Low Intensity (ULI) land use designation is primarily a residential designation but may also allow neighborhood convenience uses and individual office buildings as transitional uses. In order to be considered compatible, the commercial development should reflect similar traffic generation, traffic patterns, building scale, landscaping, open space and buffers. Here, there is no comparison between the building scale of an 89,900-sq.-ft. mini-warehouse and the average single-family residence in DeLand. Even 10-18 single-family residences scattered across 4.69 acres would pale by comparison.
The two-dimensional drawing presented by the applicant to showcase the “stellar architecture” of the proposed mini-warehouse does not provide a fair and accurate representation of the actual size and scale of this development. To get a true measure of this development, I compared it to some existing buildings in the DeLand area. According to the Property Appraiser’s website, the emergency animal hospital on the corner of S.R. 44 and Kepler Road is only 7,585 sq. ft. The First Assembly of God DeLand on South Kepler Road is 28,338 sq. ft. The Bank of America building on North Woodland Boulevard is 67,673 sq. ft. DeLand City Hall is 129,125 sq. ft., and the County Administration Building is 167,670 sq. ft.
Imagine living next to something 10 times bigger than the animal hospital, three times bigger than the church, slightly bigger than the bank, slightly smaller than City Hall and almost half the size of the County Administration Building! Ask yourself, would you rather have that in your neighborhood or no more than 18 single-family residences and accessory structures. I, for one, would rather live next to a house than a “luxury, state of the art, enclosed storage facility with stellar architecture.” I hope you feel the same and vote to reject this application on the grounds that it would constitute spot planning in an area of predominantly Urban Low Intensity (ULI) land uses and would introduce a use and intensity incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
One final question: What is the point of including “self-storage space” in the list of permitted uses? Is that to allow for “automobile, boat, recreational vehicle, trailer, motorcycle and light truck storage” which the applicant agreed to remove from the PUD? What exactly is the meaning of “self-storage space,” and how is that different from a mini-warehouse?
Thank you for your courtesies in this regard.
Astrid de Parry