Earlier this month, I used this space to vent my sense of horror that resulted from the City of Ormond Beach’s acquiescence to the near complete deforestation near the intersection of Tomoka Avenue and Granada Boulevard.
The blogpost generated interest from thousands of Barker’s View readers – many of whom felt the same gut level outrage at this environmental atrocity.
I must admit, in these situations – where our quality of life is pissed away for what passes for “progress” and “economic development” – I lose all objectivity, and I really don’t care to hear the venal excuses of real estate developers and speculative pirates whose first, last and only concern in turning greenspace into greenbacks.
Frankly, I’ve heard it all before.
So, the Daytona Beach News-Journal did the fair thing and followed up with a piece seeking the other side of the argument from Ormond Beach officials and the property developer, Paul Holub, Jr.
Perennial politician and Ormond Beach Deputy Mayor Troy Kent – who is rapidly becoming the face of this ghastly insult to the community’s collective conscience – did his best to assure us that the ugly morass of black muck where majestic, old-growth oaks once stood, “. . .does not change the beautiful character of Ormond Beach.”
Bullshit, Mr. Kent.
It changes everything.
Because it has rocked our confidence in Ormond Beach government to do the right thing, for the right reasons.
In a recent piece, the News-Journal found a local business owner who came off like a whimpering pantywaist, when he praised the destruction over his irrational fear of the wildlife whose habitat has now been decimated, “A lot of times we will walk or run by that place and sometimes we will cross the street because there are critters in the forest.”
Then, just this morning, we endured a lecture by Mr. Holub, writing in the News-Journal’s Community Voices column, bolstered by a letter from Charles Lichtigman, chairman and CEO of Charles Wayne Properties, who played the role of the sagacious voice of reason.
In shameless fashion, Holub reminded us ungrateful rubes that he is actually doing us a favor – while Lichtigman pulled a tag-team move, urging us hotheaded yokels to consider “reasoned debate,” you know, now that the property has been clear cut and ground into a muddy void.
I mean, God forbid we should be discourteous to our government, or those who generously give us “decorative pavers” in exchange for century-old trees, “decorative street lights” for wildlife habitat.
“You’ll get used to it.”
Screw these greedy bastards.
There truly is some shit we won’t eat.
While Deputy Mayor Kent may be able to convince himself that another convenience store, co-located with a grocery operation directly abutting a long-established residential area won’t adversely impact the lives of his constituents – I assure you those who are forced to live with the fallout aren’t so damnably naïve.
They can’t afford to be – their very quality of life and property values hang in the balance.
In fact, I have heard from several of Mr. Kent’s incredibly angry constituents – some of whom live many blocks away from the construction site – who report their once idyllic neighborhoods are being ruined by the near-constant roar of heavy equipment as it churns the earth off Bennett Lane.
Just imagine the exponential increase in noise and ruckus when our new WaWa cranks up 24-hour operations, complete with a chicken wing drive-thru’s amplified speaker barking orders over the “beep-beep-beep” of early morning supermarket deliveries.
At least one realty sign has already sprung up across from the gash on Tomoka Avenue.
I don’t blame them – Get while the getting’s good, I say.
It’s not over. Plans call for additional clearing on the north side of Granada Boulevard to begin soon.
Apparently, Mr. Kent is of the goofy opinion that commercial developers should be able to do whatever the hell they want on property they purchase without question – regardless of the detrimental impact to our environment – or residents who must suffer the perpetual consequences.
Of course, Mr. Holub cloaks himself in the stale reasoning that he and his investors are merely using their property in keeping with how our politicians envisioned its “highest and best” use – regardless of how appropriate or intrusive that use may be.
It seems they always factor the private profit margins – yet never consider the intrinsic cost to our collective quality of life.
The fact is, once these beautiful greenspaces and natural environmental buffers are gone, they are not coming back. Ever.
Look, I’ve seen sitting politicians literally sit up and beg like cur dogs when big-name developers and their high-priced mouthpieces start weaving yarns about all the benefits of bringing highly intrusive developments to quiet neighborhoods, so excuse me if I don’t trust the judgement of mercenary elected officials to look out for our “highest and best” interests.
Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to the City of Ormond Beach.
Thanks to rampant, unchecked development, Florida has one of the worst environmental records in the nation.
As I’ve previously written, maybe when this entire godforsaken state becomes an uninhabitable shithole – completely devoid of potable water, greenspace or wildlife; when all the natural resources are exploited, hauled-off and sold – and every dime has been looted from the public coffers – someone will wake up.
I know it’s becoming a recurring theme, but perhaps it’s time we begin electing representatives who have a modicum of respect for our natural places – and the will of the people – when considering future development.