BY LARRY FRENCH
Development in Deltona has not been adhering to the city’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) for land use and development.
Other cities and Volusia County have similar plans. Question is, who’s following these plans?
The Comp Plan, which was adopted by Deltona in 1999, establishes policies for the management of land use and development within the city. The plan’s policies address environmental protection, the provision of public services, and intergovernmental coordination.
The plan is a road map to guide leadership in city growth. It includes 10 areas: future land use, transportation, housing, infrastructure, conservation, parks and recreation, intergovernmental coordination, capital improvements, public school facilities and economic development.
The Comp Plan also has provisions built into it for amending by application and changing the city’s future land-use map. This is where Deltona messed up.
Unfortunately for Deltona, the area was originally platted as a residential community. Growth started out lopsided and was mainly houses. For years, the emphasis to build a tax base of support was from housing, so over the years, as the city annexed more land, amendments to land use became more commonplace and a readily accepted practice.
The process has become a finely tuned mechanism with such precision that this function of city government has become automatic, indifferent to residents, and infamous in its execution.
For more than 25 years, Deltona has droned on in land-use changes, oftentimes ignoring the rationale for many land-use designations. As a result, Deltona has become the largest city in Volusia County.
It is a city becoming — and its growth is — out of balance. The sprawling housing lacks enough commercial development and businesses that its 98,000-plus residents by and large commute outside their town to jobs elsewhere.
What’s happening with the other elements to the Comp Plan? How are the aforementioned elements being addressed? These are the areas that need more emphasis, not simply housing.
The present planning and development situation has created a circular conundrum for Deltona and many other communities.
Many large chain restaurants and other businesses consistently see a town lacking a lunch-crowd market because basically everyone’s working elsewhere.
Why try and establish a business that needs people when no one’s there during the day?
This author knows — he’s talked to representatives of some of these large restaurant chains. They all base their decisions on data that indicates Deltona just isn’t marketable yet. So where does that leave us?
Notice how there are multiple instances of certain chain stores, like dollar stores, O’Reilly Auto Parts, etc., popping up all around? These are basically the only kinds of commercial enterprises that can work in our present economic demographic.
If you’re tired of seeing them or would like other choices to choose from, growth and development have got to change. People have got to become aware of how the planning and development mechanism works where they live.
It’s time Florida residents became more in charge of growth and its impacts where they live. More people need to become informed and aware of what’s happening before it’s too late.
Many of us right now are dealing with the soggy consequences of the present development practices. None of this is going to change or show promise of improvement until enough concerned residents insist on a city or county sticking to its comp plans.
— French, who lives in Deltona, co-owns with his wife, Robin, a tour business called Great Tasting Tours. He also wrote the book Grand Hotels of West Volusia. Write him at email@example.com.