LISTENING — Members of the Volusia County Council listen to members of the audience at the Dec. 6 meeting. From left are Member At-Large Ben Johnson, District 3 representative Danny Robins, District 2 representative Billie Wheeler, District 1 representative Barb Girtman and District 4 representative Heather Post. Chair Jeff Brower was absent, and the District 5 seat is vacant because Fred Lowry had to resign due to his decision to enter a School Board race, which he ultimately lost. The County Council’s makeup will change radically in January. Johnson, Wheeler and Post all declined to run for re-election; Brower and Robins will remain, but Johnson was replaced in the Nov. 8 election by Jake Johansson, Girtman was replaced by Don Dempsey, Wheeler was replaced by Matt Reinhart, Post was replaced by Troy Kent, and Lowry was replaced by David Santiago. BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON


I was very pleased to see that the article by Noah Hertz in the Dec. 15-21 edition, questioning whether growth and development are to blame for flooding, presented the varying if not opposing views of Volusia County officials and county residents who feel their properties have been under-protected by those elected to do so.

Driving around the county, we can all witness the high levels of water that show no sign of abating in areas where no standing water sat just a few months ago. This predicament needs to be studied and discussed at a higher level than neighbors’ observations.

The Joslins and a group of other residents from across Volusia County presented their plight of flooding and beach erosion at the County Council meeting Dec. 6 to hushed acknowledgment in the seats and vacant-eyed stares from behind the dais. We need more from our County Council, more pre-emptive and preventive planning.

If, as science notes, climate change is pointing toward more 500-year storms in the future, and our regulations are geared to 100-year storms, then we are clearly not preparing to address future perils.

From the article: “Since newer developments avoided major flooding, [County Engineer] Tadd Kasbeer added, the county does not currently anticipate any sweeping changes to regulations in a post-Ian and post-Nicole world.”

So, newer developments were protected. What about older developments and their neighboring properties: Just tough luck?

Also from the article: “‘The goal is to preserve the existing conditions,’ land-use attorney Mark Watts of Cobb Cole said. ‘If water runs off of your property, then it can continue to run off of your property, but when you develop it, you can’t increase the rate or the volume that runs off your property.’”

The article goes on to explain that the amount of water rushing from one parcel of land to another is a lot different during a 100-year storm compared to a 500-year storm. And the required systems are designed to work properly in a 100-year storm. Ian was a 500-year storm.

It should follow that the system requirements must be adjusted to standards higher than for 100-year storms, if not to 500-year storms, to preserve existing conditions for properties that were safe before.

Would it not be unwise and irresponsible to approve and develop a new subdivision where it will not be possible to meet those assurances? Seems like common sense to me.

We deserve more than vacant-eyed stares from our officials who were elected to protect and preserve Volusia County. I ask that all efforts to address these concerns be done openly and transparently for the benefit of the entire community, not just for the benefit of new developments.

— López-Bethel lives in DeLand.


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