Something stinks in Ormond-by-the-Sea. . .
I don’t know about you, but anytime government officials say they “care” about something other than tightening their parasitic grip on our collective wallets, expanding the tax base or making life easier for political insiders, I get the queasy feeling we’re about to take it in the shorts. . .
Last year, the City of Ormond Beach began mysteriously morphing from a government entity that looked the other way as a speculative developer churned a beautiful hardwood hammock populated by majestic old growth oak trees into black muck to make way for another convenience store into the lone ecologically conscious conservator of the Halifax River.
That’s when city officials began ramping up efforts to convert homes in unincorporated Ormond-by-the-Sea from septic to municipal sewer in a multi-phase project which has now been dubbed a top priority by the majority of the Ormond Beach City Commission.
It’s not like residents of the north peninsula are exactly beating down the door at Ormond Beach City Hall – demanding access to municipal services – and begging to have thousands of dollars in still murky impact and availability fees levied on their properties, right?
The last time an annexation referendum was on the ballot, OBS residents overwhelmingly rejected the idea – and earlier this year, many on the north peninsula were openly skeptical of a strange Volusia County rezoning initiative which our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, described as a “slam dunk for the people.”
Well, according to Ormond Beach City Commissioner Dwight Selby – who also happens to be a prolific commercial real estate broker and developer – the city is doing us all a favor because north peninsula septic tanks are impacting the health of the Halifax River – and “There is nobody else who can do it.”
In a release to the Ormond Beach Observer last week, City Manager Joyce Shanahan no doubt did as she was told and bolstered Commissioner Selby’s horseshit, “The city’s sole goal is simply to improve water quality by reducing nutrients migrating from septic systems into the Halifax River from homes on the north peninsula.”
I don’t know about you, but I just lost a lot of respect for the normally upright Ms. Shanahan. . .
Citing a dubious 2013 report by the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County which deemed the north peninsula “unsuitable for septic systems” due to soil conditions and other factors, Mr. Selby and his cronies are suddenly transmogrifying from ravenous real estate speculators into some rabid faction of the Earth Liberation Front.
Never mind that the City of Ormond Beach continues to discharge millions of gallons of partially treated effluent into the Halifax River each week – or the fact the municipality has hundreds of homes currently on septic systems – with even more being permitted by Volusia County at the Vista Della Toscana subdivision being built on environmentally sensitive land off our threatened jewel known as The Loop.
Now, the Ormond Beach City Commission expects us to suspend reality and believe they give two-shits about water quality in the Halifax River?
In the first step of ramming their aggressive “master plan” down the throats of residents living totally outside their jurisdiction, Ormond Beach elected officials have put taxpayers on the hook for some $1.1 million to cover permitting and design costs for “phase 1” of the project which will initially convert some 700 homes in a swath from Plaza Drive to Longwood Drive.
With 10 phases planned – that’s an incredibly expensive proposition for everyone involved – except those who ultimately stand to benefit most. . .
Look, anyone with two synapses firing can see that the ultimate goal of Mr. Selby and his benefactors has nothing to do with improving water quality and everything to do with the annexation – and commercial development – of the north peninsula.
I’m told that an informational meeting held by District 4 Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post last evening took a weird turn when Commissioner Selby showed up and began openly heckling Ms. Post while actively attempting to hijack her forum.
While I find Mr. Selby’s abject rudeness in attempting to suppress public dialog interesting – it’s not unexpected.
When you consider that Ms. Post’s every attempt to gain substantive information for her worried constituents have been met with Volusia County’s governmental Code of Omerta – it becomes increasingly clear that things are about to get very interesting for Ormond-by-the-Sea residents.
Trust me. This is one to watch.
Residents of Volusia County and beyond are tired of being blamed for the ongoing pollution of our waterways – even as our elected officials continue to foul our own nest – rubber stamping massive development from Farmton to the Flagler County line and ignoring nutrient-laden runoff from residential and commercial developments – while continuing the practice of pumping wastewater containing phosphorus, nitrogen, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants directly into the Halifax River.
At the end of the day, it’s about greed. Nothing more.
Anyone who cares about good governance in their own hometown should care about good governance everywhere – and this has the self-serving stench of wholesale commercial exploitation all over it.
Now, we are about to witness the coup de main of a quaint seaside community.
For more information on how residents are organizing to prevent Ormond Beach’s hostile invasion of the north peninsula, please visit the Ormond-by-the-Sea Association at www.obsassociation.org