DEBATING — Members of the Deltona City Commission are pictured here Feb. 6. From left are City Commissioners Tom Burbank, Dana McCool, Anita Bradford, Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. and City Commissioner Maritza Avila-Vazquez.

A community on the southeast end of Deltona will grow, now that the City Commission has OK’d the final plat for part of the subdivision.

Vineland Reserve, a residential planned-unit development (RPUD) located near the intersection of Doyle Road and State Road 415, may now add 127 single-family homes to the 152 dwellings already authorized. The approval of the third phase of Vineland Reserve came March 6, despite some misgivings about the adequacy of capacity for new students in public schools close by.

“I do not believe that we have the correct information,” Commissioner Dana McCool said. “We’re putting our children in buildings without a quality education.”

McCool noted the Volusia School District’s projection of 94 additional students coming from Vineland Reserve’s new phase would further burden the schools — specifically Osteen Elementary, Heritage Middle and Pine Ridge High — amid a shortage of teachers. That latest number, issued in 2022, is down from the 124 students projected in 2016 to impact the schools.

McCool dismissed the school system’s statement of sufficient ability to educate by crumpling the School District’s information paper in her hand.

“This is not worth the paper it’s written on,” she said. 

Moreover, McCool noted, Deltona’s state-mandated growth-management plan, also known as the comprehensive plan, gives local officials the right to reject housing proposals that may strain the ability of the schools and roadways to serve the new and existing residents. If local governments allow more housing in places where infrastructure and public services are inadequate, McCool argued, they are “not following the comp plan.”

“If a teacher shortage is not a relevant factor, I don’t know what is,” she concluded.

“Commissioner McCool, I totally agree with you, but this is not the School Board,” Commissioner Maritza Avila-Vazquez said. “We cannot make our decision on what the School Board approves.”

Another concern was the possible effect of Vineland Reserve upon the environment.

“There were no scrub jays found, but there were gopher tortoises,” Deltona Development Services Director Joe Ruiz said.

The tortoises may be relocated with the permission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Vice Mayor Anita Bradford called for the approval of the plat.

“We have to make decisions based on the information given to us at the time,” she said.

The commission voted 5-2 in favor of the Vineland Reserve plat. Commissioners McCool and Jody Lee Storozuk dissented. 

Ruiz also said there may be yet another phase of Vineland Reserve submitted to the City Commission at a later date. That portion of the development may be 126 town houses, in addition to the total of 279 single-family homes already approved. 


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