Editor, The Beacon:
Once again, I find myself confused by the discussion of land use by the members of the County Council. A recent Beacon article recapped the discussion of rezoning two parcels for more intensive uses.
The first one I will address is a parcel at the corner of Richfern Road and Plymouth Avenue. This land is dormant, but is home to a former fernery. If all goes well for the developer, they can perhaps shoehorn as many as 82 homes onto 29.11 acres.
Since I drive through this area several times a week, I can only say this is ill-advised. The subject parcel is south of a capped landfill and east of an active landfill. There are days when the temperature and humidity are high and the winds are calm, and the stench of methane can take your breath away, even in a car with closed windows.
The streets are decorated with tire tracks from the cars that use the area as a drag strip or as an intersection in which you can make doughnuts. Who knows what the fernery used for chemicals and, God forbid, we explore what the aquifers hold because of the landfills.
So, the County Council members ignore those facts, ignore the principles of effective zoning, and approve the request. Why? Because the county needs to pay for the extension of SunRail into DeLand.
“We’ve got 10-million reasons to approve development in that area.” To pay for the SunRail extension? Really?
In the same issue of The Beacon, there was a story that indicated that the value of property and improvements in Volusia County increased by 15.2 percent to $85 billion. Is that not enough, kids?
The second parcel is identified as being 32 acres on North Woodland Boulevard, and it could see as many as 74 new homes. Be advised that only one building lot fronts on Woodland Boulevard. The rest are behind the commercial and residential properties on Woodland Boulevard, Glenwood Road and Mercers Fernery Road.
As a resident of Glenwood Road, I can tell you that I never have to go to OB’s to listen to rock-and-roll on the weekends. Everyone in the neighborhood can hear the indoor and outdoor music loud and clear from a half-mile away.
This development places 74 homes almost in OB’s’ backyard. Brilliant! I hope the developer and the county post signs advising noise caution to potential buyers.
I served as a zoning commission chairman for more than two decades in a city with a population of about 60,000, and I understand the principles and purpose of zoning. The objectives of zoning generally include using each parcel for its highest and best use. To ensure compatible uses to those in the area while protecting the welfare, safety and health of a specific target area or the entire community.
To ensure orderly development and lessen congestion in streets. To secure public safety from fire and other hazards. To prevent overpopulation and facilitate transportation, water supply, sewerage, schools, parks, emergency responders, police and fire services.
Never have I seen economic development or recouping appropriated money to cover past decisions as reasons to support zone changes. Those are not reasons, they are excuses. Sad, feeble and unforgivable excuses. Exactly the kind of commentary that invites litigation.
The members of the County Council who support these zone changes are not acting in the best interests of these neighborhoods, unincorporated DeLand, or the county in general.
Frank J. Johnson