Aren’t we stressed enough?
I mean, for over a month, we’ve been involuntarily incarcerated in our homes, with many facing financial ruin, food banks overwhelmed by hungry families while businesses remain shuttered by our government’s ham-handed response to the coronavirus outbreak – seeking any ray of hope, wherever we can get it.
People are frustrated, anxious and increasingly impatient to restart their lives and livelihoods – and the more our ‘powers that be’ talk – the more we realize how little they actually say.
While we’ve been shut-in, hoping against hope that our elected and appointed officials are squarely focused on preparing a plan to bring our local economy safely back to life, we learn that “for the past several months” Daytona Beach and Volusia County officials have been huddled with a developer, determining how best to use our money to underwrite the infrastructure needs of yet another sprawling project.
You read that right.
Earlier this week, Clayton Park, The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s business reporter, published a piece on Avalon Park Daytona – a proposed development on 2,500+ acres west of I-95 on the border of Ormond Beach – north of the expansive Latitude Margaritaville – a report that left more questions than answers.
After announcing plans to foist 10,000 new homes and more than a million square feet of commercial space on our already overburdened transportation and utilities infrastructure – now, Orlando developer Avalon Park Group/sitEX USA appears to be adding insult to injury by asking that you and I “sign on” to a $75 million bond, ostensibly to pay for a controversial interstate overpass on Hand Avenue, including an extension to the south section of Tymber Creek Road with connectors to Margaritaville.
As I understand it (and I am not sure I do), plans are for the company to pay back the bond using impact fees and property taxes generated by Avalon Park Daytona.
We will have to wait until things are fleshed out, but it sounds like a classic win-win scenario for the “developer du jour.”
For now, it is being described as a “public/private” partnership by some sitting officials – which, in my experience, typically means the use of public funds to facilitate the private profits of a speculative developer. . .
Perhaps most disturbing, according to the News-Journal, the “…company wants to issue the bond without requiring a vote by Volusia County residents.”
Of course, lame duck Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm appears to be actively figuring out a way to do just that – while our lame duck County Chair Ed Kelley openly shills for the Hand Avenue overpass (which is being used as eye candy to lure easily swayed Ormond Beach politicians into the quagmire) – a span which will literally flood Ormond Beach with even more traffic.
Are these compromised shitheels actively trying to destroy us all on their way out the door?
According to Mr. Chisholm, “There’s a way to do it if the bond is paid for by the development itself,” he said. “They need to be willing to make the (road) improvements upfront. That’s going to be the key.”
In my view, “the key” is to immediately stop this gross suburban sprawl and wholesale destruction of our environmentally sensitive wetlands while there’s still time.
In my view, wary citizens are sick and tired of underwriting the infrastructure needs of private development using our hard-earned tax dollars.
Look, Halifax area residents get it.
For years, many east-side governments have existed for the sole purpose of assisting speculative developers in hauling obscene profits out of our sensitive pine scrub – building tens-of-thousands of cracker boxes directly on top of our aquifer recharge areas – all while paying little or nothing for the devastating impacts on our quality of life in exchange for campaign contributions to hand-selected candidates who facilitate the process.
In my view, Margaritaville, Mosaic and now, Avalon Park Daytona, represent the malignant sprawl that is drastically affecting our wholly inadequate transportation infrastructure – and threatens to have us all drinking recycled sewage as our natural water supply is drained and destroyed.
Since the project’s inception, plans have called for the City of Ormond Beach to supply water and wastewater utilities to Avalon (at rates far less than what current residents pay) – and, in exchange, the development will supply its neighbor with even more traffic congestion and environmental pressure.
Where does this insanity end?
Clearly, our elected officials in Volusia County aren’t known for their ability to properly plan for growth – or, God forbid, ensure that those developers and builders who own the paper on their political souls – actually pay their fair share for new roads, utilities infrastructure, parks, fire services, law enforcement and schools necessitated by the industry’s insatiable appetite.
And the recklessness that allows Daytona Beach officials to give their middle finger to the needs of existing residents in favor of allowing out-of-control growth is self-evident.
Don’t take my word for it.
Take a drive out “Boomtown Boulevard” and see this “cart before the horse syndrome” in action.
Fortunately, Ormond Beach City Manager Joyce Shanahan has expressed “serious concerns” regarding the development, which will ultimately add some 20,000 residents to the area – nearly 50% of the current population of her community.
Speaking in the News-Journal, Ms. Shanahan said, “We’ve had one meeting with Avalon. They seemed nice enough. They had a lot of passion. But I need to know that their project is not going to negatively impact the residents of Ormond Beach.”
I think the residents of Ormond Beach already know the answer to that question. . .
Enough is enough.
Folks, I hope you will remember this latest insult to our quality of life come election time.
Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal