OVERVIEW — A drone shot of Victoria Park Commons, a master-planned neighborhood that is dominated by single-family homes. BEACON PHOTO ANTHONY DEFEO


There’s an old adage that goes “When a hammer is the only tool in your toolbox, every problem looks like a nail.”

That saying was put to practice Wednesday evening in the meeting of the DeLand Planning Board. Presentations were made, discussions were held, and votes were taken to bulldoze another in-town forest and pack it with cookie-cutter residences. The unfortunate acreage is the tree-covered area at the northwest corner of South Blue Lake Avenue and East Taylor Road.

Not long ago, specifically to supplement their toolbox, the Planning Board added a new, less-dense zoning option: the “Transitional Residential District” (TRD).

The TRD zoning enables a number of other housing possibilities: upscale town houses a la Winter Park or Celebration, clusters of duplexes or quadplexes interspersed with green spaces, and multifamily options, as well as single-family homes.

The TRD offers a modern smorgasbord of choices that preserve more trees and open areas — unique, novel, meeting people’s needs, and not cookie-cutter.

But after listening to speakers from the general public, the City pulled its hammer from an otherwise empty toolbox, and banged out its only routine solution for every residential requirement: single-family houses — cookie-cutter-style! And each house must have expensive, finicky, resource-eating St. Augustine lawns in the package.

With only a hammer, every undeveloped space in metro-DeLand continues to look like a nail to City leadership. No creative housing is taken seriously. Burn, build, repeat.

In rezoning requests of the Planning Board or the City Commission, the reflexive answer is:

•Starter homes for young couples: single-family houses!

•Smaller homes for retirees and seniors: single-family houses!

•Homes for big families: single-family houses!

•Homes for singles: single-family houses!

•Homes for the wealthy: single-family houses!

•Homes for the financially pinched: single-family houses!

(The only point of debate is the width of lots: 40 feet, 60 feet, or 80 feet, depending on whom you wish to irritate.)

Recent years have brought six identical cookie-cutter single-family-house developments along Beresford Avenue alone, with others sprawling from Lincoln Oaks to Lake Winnemissett.

Despite the label and options of “Transitional” zoning, the board’s decision came with five votes in favor of single-family houses — and nothing else. One board member broke through the fog and recommended the possibility of using other tools for deciding — “creativity, vision, thinking outside the box, new ideas…” But DeLand’s tried-and-true 1950s tool, single-family houses, won the day.

Dear citizens with vision, please encourage our city commissioners to reconsider the board’s advice to cover that area with more cookie-cutter development, and ask them to apply a few new residential tools that their TRD zoning allows.


  1. Deland can’t stop growth but they can set architectural standards like Orlando and Winter Garden. WG requires every home to have front porches while Orlando requires plenty of windows (a percentage of the façade). Even Lake Helen has standards. Deland should require more of an architecture standard so builders don’t make our town look like Deltona.

  2. DeLand will continue to grow as long as we are listed as rural by the Federal Government and folks get home loans with 0% down payments. When the money dries up there won’t be as many new houses built just the destroyed earth that the current DeLand government continues to approve. It is the history of Florida. Build until no one wants to live in Delightful DeLand anymore.

  3. Won’t be long residents will fill their garages with crap and park their cars n the street. A dog park the size of a residential lot? Seriously? “Here Boy! Fetch”
    “What, back already?”

    • LOL! Exactly! And the Planning Board had other options that would have preserved a major portion of the wooded property. No vision is being applied. Other cities are growing, but applying ‘smart growth’ people-friendly practices. That’s not in DeLand’s toolbox.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here