On Ormond Beach: They call it “progress”

As a life-long resident of Ormond Beach, I have a real affinity for our unique community here on the banks of the beautiful intercoastal waterway.

I grew up on North Halifax Drive when it was little more than a fire trail, went to elementary school at St. James Episcopal Church, and played in the side yard of the Casements long before it was renovated into the wonderful civic amenity it is today.

Our daughter and son-in-law were married there.

I knew Mr. MacDonald – the proprietor of the original Billy’s Tap Room – and frequently solicited his help whenever our kickball wound up on the roof of what is now the Gaslight Shops on East Granada Boulevard.  I found it fascinating that he had dime coins given to him as a boy by John D. Rockefeller in exchange for carrying one of the wealthiest men in historys golf bag to what is now Oceanside Country Club course.

I saw smoke rising in the sky from our backyard the day the Ormond Garage burned – and I have walked across the old draw bridge with my classmates as we visited Santa Claus and the talking tree each Christmas at the former City Hall.

As a child, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. aboard the personal train car of Ormond’s most philanthropic benefactor, Chapman Root – the “Silver Holly” –  complete with its multifaceted observation dome.

The car is now part of the Root Family exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Science in Daytona Beach.

My wonderful memories of life here in the “Birthplace of Speed” go on-and-on.

Those of us fortunate enough to call this place home enjoy a rich history and a wealth of outdoor recreation activities and parks, and in so many ways we’ve stayed true to our roots, balancing controlled growth along our main east-west commercial corridor while protecting natural spaces and virgin forests.

I have also been publicly appreciative of the good work of City Manager Joyce Shanahan, who has brought a high degree of stability and transparency to Ormond Beach government, restored public trust in our utilities and maintained an effective dialog with area residents.

However, times they are a changin’.

Last week, as I traveled west on Granada Boulevard, I came upon the horrific scene of utter environmental devastation taking place near the intersection of Tomoka Avenue.  A closer inspection found the wholesale destruction of hundreds of old growth specimen trees – to include dozens of ancient oaks – all felled in a gnarled morass.

granada 2

The wholesale ruin goes on for acres on both sides of Tomoka Avenue, then south on Bennet Lane, with men in heavy equipment actively churning this once pristine forest, which so appropriately buffered the heavily traveled thoroughfare from residential areas to the south, into an ugly black muck of twisted vegetation and splintered limbs.

Like many of you, I heard rumblings that a new WaWa convenience store – co-located with yet another chicken wing drive-thru, and one of those posh specialty grocers some people find so fashionable – was going up, but I really didn’t pay any attention to the when, where or why.

The development goes by the typically pretentious handle – Granada Pointe.   

Shame on me.

I know something about this beautifully tucked away area of our community.

In 1992, my wife Patti and I built our first home in the Woodgrove subdivision, a small two-story pink house which sits at the intersection of South Center Street and Tomoka Avenue.  If you look closely, you can now see it from Granada Boulevard.

If memory serves, the subdivision was built on an old farm and pasture that once took up much of central Ormond Beach.

From my up-close and personal experience, I can tell you that the area provided habitat for a variety of turtles, snakes, birds, raccoons and small mammals.

Now, nothing lives there – except those unfortunate souls who have just watched their property values settle to the bottom of the toilet.

According to a survey performed by the City of Ormond Beach, there were 34 “historic trees” on the three parcels (one located on the north side of Granada Boulevard), with 15 located on the southern parcels along Tomoka Avenue which are being prepared for “commercial development.”  Of these, four trees were said to be in “poor condition.”

The report, dated July 13, 2017, states, “All trees, including the (11) historic trees will be removed (except tree preservation areas below) from the southern parcels as the site requires up to 4’ of fill to bring the buildings, roads and parking areas to proper elevation, excavating for storm water ponds and extensive utility relocation work along Granada Boulevard.” 

Of course, to make us all feel better about ourselves for killing century old hardwoods to make way for an up-scale gas station – and the third grocery store within a half-mile of each other – the city has set aside a 10-acre “conservation area” behind the Moose Lodge.

My ass.

The Ormond Beach Planning Board unanimously approved a rezoning request for the project last July.

At the time, Paul Holub, the local real estate developer who is ramrodding the project, was quoted in the Ormond Beach Observer, “Granada Pointe was designed to minimize impact to the surrounding residential areas, with the landscape buffers, privacy walls and the design of the site’s retention pond.”

Do these speculative developers know no shame?

My God.

Perversely, they call this “progress.”

Does Mr. Holub – or our elected officials – truly believe that Woodgrove and surrounding neighborhoods won’t suffer the near constant “impact” of restaurant, retail and grocery operations – to include deliveries, amplified speakers, traffic and outdoor lighting – which will take place 24-hours a day – literally in their backyard?

And what of the inevitable flooding and run-off that results from raising the surface 4’ above current grade?  And what happens during periods of torrential rain when storm water retention ponds overflow and drain south across Tomoka Avenue?

Despite the very real concerns of area residents, last August our elected officials on the City Commission unanimously approved the project on the recommendation of city planning director Ric Goss and others.

According to Mr. Goss, those residents who are fretting that their property will flood during storms need not worry – “I think we resolved that issue.”

You think that issue has been resolved?

I hope Mr. Goss is willing to bet his job on his hunch.

Because if this project results in flooding, damage, noise and light pollution to area homes as many suspect, I, for one, will be joining the mass call for Mr. Goss – and any other bureaucrat who had anything to do with this project – to be summarily fired and run out of town on a rail.

In my view, one key problem we face in the Halifax area is a complete lack of accountability by public officials – self-described professionals who accept public funds to serve in the public interest – then quibble away the very real concerns of citizens who have invested all they have to carve out a life here whenever a developer wants to start clearing land.

When our environment is decimated, and people’s lives and livelihoods are placed at risk for the benefit of another cookie cutter commercial development, “We hope” and “I think” doesn’t cut it in my book – and its high time these well-compensated guessers are held to account when they’re wrong.

According to Mr. Holub, “As with most of the projects we have built in the last 30-plus years in Ormond Beach, in the end, once it is built and open, the community will use it and support it and accept it.”

As though we had a choice. . .

(Update:  Ormond Beach Planning Director Ric Goss retired at the end of 2017 after serving the city for more than 10-years.  The point of holding city officials accountable for their professional opinions stands.)

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “On Ormond Beach: They call it “progress”

  1. Mark,

    Over the years I have come to the realization that there’s just no stopping “progress.” Out of town developers will continue to sweep into this area and spread around piles of seed money and pipe dreams in an (often successful) attempt to ram whatever get-rich-quick schemes they have cooked up down the throats of the local hoi-polloi. Since they don’t live here themselves, they have no moral or ethical dilemmas with clear cutting centuries old trees and displacing long time residents (both human and animal) from their established and comfortable natural habitats as they recklessly plow forward with their mega gas stations, mini malls and water parks in search of the all-mighty dollar.

    They often use the word “BEST” in their propaganda filled proposals and prospectuses (e.g. “Our proposal makes for the best possible use of the land we would like to purchase and will prove to be best for the local economy.”) But the funnier word is “better.” They never tell you what it’s better than.

    Another popular word with these clowns is “NEW!” which is always written in all CAPS across the front of the shiny sales literature and press releases that they have conveniently prepared in advance of their forays into town. “NEW” is supposed to make you think that because it’s new, it’s some kind of improvement. I remember a candy bar that was advertised as all “NEW” according to the maker. It was new, all right. It was two ounces lighter.

    NEW? BEST?…..Thanks but NO THANKS.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to wonder how many palms were greased, and with how much money 💰?? I’ve only been here for 45 years, but I’ve enjoyed our pristine little town’s friendliness. That small hometown feel you don’t have in places like Orlando. It is fading at a rapid pace…sad! Our elected officials need to be looked at long and hard…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen to this article! I was horrified driving down Granada to see these beautiful trees taken down for another gas station that this town does not need! Now Granada will have even more traffic than it already does now! These damn politicians need to remember that We can all will vote them out the next election!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! I agree on all counts! Great article, horrific what the mayor & CC agreed to do to our City & the traffic has already been rated “F” (highest worst rating) by the FDOT on Granada! VOTE ALL OF THESE MEN OUT – GET OUT AND VOTE THIS NOVEMBER! Don’t wait for Governors or Presidents – get out and VOTE LOCAL!!!!!

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  4. I too have been a resident of ORMOND BEACH for 45 years. I’m very upset as to what is happening to our city. We were so unique in so many ways. I never minded going outside the city for shopping. A mere 10 miles round trip. But now we have the option of 3 mattress stores within a 2 block area. So what have they offered in retail. Absolutely nothing. One of my biggest concerns is the litter. The median on U S 1 is horrific at times. More traffic and building will only add to it. As residents who have paid taxes for a lot of years, our concerns have fallen on deaf years.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ormond Beach is a sell out city.
    It all starts somewhere and as our past Mayor Kelley has proven… make as much off the beach as you can, then when you get the chance sell it for as much as possible. Kelley was a salesman for Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen and made alot of money here off the beach driving attraction…then he was Ormond Mayor when he started the process of closing beach driving. 😉
    Let that sink in….
    He used it then when he was done with what he needed of it, he didn’t make a stand to protect the rest of our rights to do the same.
    Our current standing of Mayoral and commissioners are as far as I know all land owners on Granada Mainstreet…hmmmmm…..developers and real estate brokers….
    Let that sink in…

    The city has madly sold out and our own officials are leading the “progress” to destroy what makes Ormond special. Now we all tend to refer to Ormond as “Ormando.” An overdeveloped town with only fake environment to be accepted as beauty. But really that beautiful pond over there is not suitable for eating the fish or swimming as its got leached septic and road runoff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The traffic on East, West Granada is atrocious now. When Kelley left Ormond for Daytona he probably had those land plans all rolled up. I felt pure evil when he came into my PCP’s office with his rolled up plans…months later my Doc closed his practice ..sold out. ! I was in attendance when Kelly voted against our then Garbage Department for a more expensive vender. ..did your bills go up ? Beware of this evil power…called Kelley man.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well written article on the illegal environmental devastation happening on Granada when my subdivision was built developers left large green belts and all ancient trees were preserved it could have been done like that in this case but this developer and our current city government DO NOT CARE #kickbacks

    Liked by 1 person

  7. it was particularly distressing to be told by the head of the planning committee that the concerned citizens who attended the meeting for a variance request by Mr. Holub were “ungrateful” for their lack of appreciation for the “quality” projects Mr Holub brings to the area. If you don’t agree that 24-hour gas stations and fast food drive-thru restaurants are the highest and best use of a prime location on a major thoroughfare of our city you are out of luck. Mr. Holub owns that board!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes he does and for a number of years!..😡. Look we’re his office is NEW resteraunt like crispers open and close everything is popular when new but his newness for recent developments in Ormond have fallen short!… If that’s not enough look up all off his OLD vacant offices Along Granada Blvd. it’s all about his pockets and enough left over to pay the board😤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes he does and for a number of years!..😡. Look we’re his office is NEW resteraunt like crispers open and close everything is popular when new but his newness for recent developments in Ormond have fallen short!… If that’s not enough look up all off his OLD vacant offices Along Granada Blvd. it’s all about his pockets and enough left over to pay the board😤

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  10. I have no opinion one way or another about the shopping center. However, this is a wake up call to put a plan in action to preserve other natural areas. If land can be purchased, do it. It’s hard to fault the developers in some respects, they purchased the land, got the required permits and did everything legally. You can’t expect city employees to care about preserving history, the residents must do it. It’s not somebody else’s job, it’s yours.

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  11. What the hell does Holub care about the environmental impact or the effect on surrounding neighborhoods, it’s just more money in the bank for him as he sits back in his gated home west of town. No different from the rest of the big time developers that chop up our once paradise and sell it off in the name of personal profit.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Love Barker’s view, this article, and the comments from other readers. A new citizens group, CANDO II, Citizens & Neighbors Dedicated to Ormond, is forming to stand up to government on growth and development issues. Several of us have been picketing the site with homemade signs. Tonight, we’ll be giving audience remarks at 7PM at the commission meeting, peeling the paint off the walls.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That property from Southtrust Bank past the creek and beyond belonged to my grandparents, Bob and Viola Rush, who owned Rush’s Fruit Ranch citrus orchard for many years here in Ormond. Before the fruit ranch they had chickens and hogs.

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  14. What they should have is line the trail in Palm coast between palm coast parkway…the linear train. They could have made it a beautiful park and/ walking area and saved the majestic oaks 😠

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  15. Thank god I found your blog Mr. Barker. I live in the neighborhood right behind the clear cut trees In Ormond Beach. It has been a nightmare. City Commissioners changing RESIDENTIAL land and office zoning to allow a WAWA and gas station. We’re supposed to thank the developer for making Ormond Beach so nice for us and spending so much money. He is willing to pay for the traffic light. He has to pay for the traffic light because WAWA won’t go in without it. Shame on the city commission for approving this. What resident thought they had to watch out for a developer buying up residential land, piece milling it with office zoned land to form a new commercially zoned land for a WAWA. Who is looking out for us, seriously? I expect to be trolled on here by those who don’t know what really happened or the developers son. The city commissioners and mayor need to be voted out. They did not listen to the citizens of Ormond Beach. I went to the meetings, so I am aware. There is more coming down the pike folks. Please, don’t allow it. The forest on the north side will be knocked down soon.

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