Volusia Politics: Pave paradise, and put up a Margaritaville. . .

“Now most of the people who retire in Florida are wrinkled and they lean on a crutch.  And mobile homes are smotherin’ the Keys; well I hate those bastards so much.  I wish a summer squall would blow them all the way up to fantasy land.  They’re ugly and square, they don’t belong here, they looked a lot better as beer cans.”

–Jimmy Buffet, “Migration”

Hey, neighbors!  More good news!

The latest “Game Changer for this area” just arrived!

Woot!  Our troubles are over again.  Again.

I’m not talking about some Hard Rock Café with a motel attached, a goofy Russian condo/convention tower, or some weird temporary beachfront restaurant with a massive density variance, or even a discount outlet mall, or high-end sporting goods store that provides “synergy” with Daytona International Speedway, or – hell, you get the idea. . .

No.  I’m talking about Jimmy Buffet’s new Margaritaville “Latitudes Daytona” development by Canadian mega-developer Minto Communities!

According to an article by Clayton Parks in this morning’s Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Minto Communities announced that Buffet’s Margaritaville Holdings company has agreed to become a strategic partner in developing its planned 6,900 home community for residents 55-and-older on the north side of LPGA Boulevard, just west of Interstate 95.”

 Yep!  In just a few short months, you can live the artificially contrived vagabond lifestyle of the professional beach bum!  (For $200,000 to $300,000 plus HOA fees, that is. . .)

“With Minto’s expertise in creating master-planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up,” stated John Cohlan, the CEO of Palm Beach based Margaritaville Holdings, in a news release.

Sorry Daytona Beachside.  You lost.  Fuck off.

Who needs the fun and escapism of an actual “beachside community” when we can just artificially create the idyllic coastal lifestyle you once represented in a mass of commercial sprawl west of I-95?

And if Minto’s resident Parrothead’s have a hankering for an actual beach, we can bus them over to one the marketing folks created far removed from the rabble and rubble of Daytona Beach.

Look, I’ve been a Jimmy Buffet fan since forever.  Even if he became everything he hated – hell, that’s the American dream, right?

I’m an old-time Parrothead who knows all his songs by heart – and the first guy you’ll see in a coconut bra and grass skirt while tailgating at a concert.

The fact is, Jimmy Buffet has become a quadrillionaire by selling a unique brand of escapism through his music – and myriad other similarly themed businesses – all built around the brand, which include bars, restaurants, apparel, beer, and resort hotels and casinos throughout the southeastern United States and Caribbean.

Believe me, every time Jimmy sticks his foot on a salty piece of land, he comes up with a gold nugget between his toes; and I have no doubt the Margaritaville machine will make a success of the world’s first “theme subdivision” right here on the “Fun Coast.”

Not to poop the beach party, but has anyone considered that this development – and others like it – are being built directly on top of our aquifer’s (read: drinking water) sensitive recharge areas?

Or the fact that we do not have the current infrastructure capacity (roads, utilities, police, fire, etc.) to absorb another 7,000+ homes into our already overburdened system?

They say Latitude Margaritaville at Daytona Beach is expected to be the biggest master-planned community ever built in the Volusia-Flagler area.

Almost everyone I speak with regarding these developments cite traffic gridlock – increased pressure on our transportation infrastructure – and the potential environmental impact of paving over our sensitive wetlands and virgin forests west of I-95.

Apparently, when it comes to infrastructure repair and replacement funds, we’re broke as all get-out – just ask county manager Jim Dinneen.  He’s wringing his little hands and wailing that we need an additional gasoline tax, and I mean right now.

No, we tied up most of our transportation funds on “other projects,” and what remained we used to extend Williamson Boulevard to Mori Hossieni’s ICI Homes new 1,300 home, 400 townhouse, development “Woodhaven” in Port Orange.

And make no mistake – you and I did, in fact, pay to extend Williamson Boulevard 2 ½ miles further south to accommodate Mori – the High Panjandrum of Political Power and poster boy for using public funds to eliminate private risk and overhead for developers.

When you factor in proposed developments in southern Volusia, to include the Farmton project, and the “Restoration” (sorry, just choked on my coffee there for a second) development near Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach – you begin to see the potential environmental and infrastructure impact.

Recently, a group of concerned environmentalist representing everyone from the Sierra Club to the Friends of Spruce Creek Preserve, Inc., employed a Washington D.C. based law firm to challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “come one, come all” process for approving development projects.

Last summer, the News-Journal reported, “Several related projects in Volusia County aim to open a swath of undisturbed, ecologically valuable land to development and urban sprawl from cities along Florida’s eastern coast,” according to a “Notice of Violations” letter to the Corps on behalf of local environmentalists.

 “The Corps’ piecemeal approval of individual projects, and its deliberate disregard for obvious indirect and cumulative impacts, constitute clear legal violations.”

The letter asks the Corps “to remedy these violations in order to avoid litigation.”

I hope they sue their eyeballs out.

Environmental protection groups are seeking a moratorium – or at least a deep-breath – on any project that could cause potential harm to our sensitive local eco-system until a formal environmental impact study can be completed and a statement issued – research that is almost a decade overdue.

Look, Volusia County doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to growth management.

The process – first, foremost and every time – involves giving massive amounts of money and incentives to the right people – those who stand to make a ton of cash developing our sensitive recharge areas and green-spaces – using the “we’ll worry about the impacts later” model and hoping against hope that they can mitigate the resulting problems using the tens-of-millions in new tax dollars they hope the projects will generate.

Another interesting element of the fun-in-the-sun, tequila-soaked “Margaritaville” development that bears watching is the teaser in Mr. Park’s article, “The community will also operate for its residents a private oceanfront beach club in Ormond-by-the-Sea that will be accessed via a loop shuttle bus.”

Ormond-by-the-sea? 

 What the fu.. (excuse me) happened to the Buffet-themed ‘Landshark Bar’ that Consolidated Tomoka teased us with when they were seeking massive concessions and variances for their vacant beachfront just north of the county’s Taj Mahal-like lifeguard station?

Never mind.  We’re just along for the lovely cruise.

What will be, will be.

And there’s not a damn thing you or I can do about it.

But, in an area where existing residents are hyper-sensitive (for obvious reasons) to the whole concept of “private” anything near what’s left of our beach – that didn’t sit well with me.

Fellow residents of Coastal Florida’s original La-La Land – sit back, spool-up a cold Margarita in your Margaritaville blender – put on your best Margaritaville flowery shirt and copyrighted flip-flops – put some Margaritaville seasoning on your trademarked salsa and chips – and anesthetize yourselves into peaceful oblivion.

Because some holding company is about to own the rights to your whole fucking way of life.

After all, life is infinitely less complicated once you sell your soul. . .

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Volusia Politics: Pave paradise, and put up a Margaritaville. . .

  1. I wish we had pictures when I was younger of the swamps that used to be where all the development and wells for the cities and county are. Crane swamp in Farmton for example is dried up completely! Can drive a cadillac across most of it. This didnt happen until Edgewater, Titusville and the county started putting in wells. Oh well, all for the “greater good” right? Its a damn shame to see all tge water gone in just a few short years.

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  2. The extension of Williamson isnt the only favor on the list of to do’s. The Pioneer Trail, I 95 exchange will be on the taxpayers credit card for years. But I do see a light? at the end of the tunnel. Paving paradise will prevent aquifer recharge.Water bills will become higher than electric bills. Outraged cries will be heard all the way to Canada. The highways to Margaritaville and all the other fancy named developments will languish from lack of use. Unfortunately, Farmton Water Utility the main source of water for S.E. Volusia (yes they were authorized to be a water utility back in 2004 buy Tallahassee) will have to continue increasing our bills to keep the wells pumping until they run dry..

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