On Volusia: Enough is Enough

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.

Say what?   

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.”

Excuse me? 

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.

What gives? 

 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.”

My ass.

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

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “On Volusia: Enough is Enough

  1. As with every other issue I’ve heard you speak about, I’m with you 100%. Why does Ormond continue to act like the “step child” to Daytona? I just don’t get it. Why don’t people realize we can’t continue to use our natural resources this way?

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  2. Each and every one of these politicians are crooks. All they care about is getting their pockets lined with cash and gifts. The remarks they make related to these projects are some of the dumbest ever heard.Congestion and gridlock are going to be unbearable here before long. Ed Kelley has to be one of the biggest buffoons on the planet!!! The only difference between a dead politician and a dead cat in the road–there are skid marks in front of the cat.

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  3. Barker’s View rocks – as always.
    As a resident of Ormond, I have to say we’ve been fighting the Hand Ave extension as well as the 10k homes they want to put in (which is actually DB property) – but the “powers that be” don’t take any notice. Our illustrious mayor & CC’s super-PAC & individual campaigns are funded by these developers – we tried to get NORMAL people in that have environmental concerns in 2 years ago and we’re trying to find others for this coming election – it’s not easy when you’re fighting a losing battle. Current administration has annihilated thousands of trees & they’ll continue to do so. SMH.

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  4. I disagree….growth is here and whatever can be done to deal with the infrastructure needs to be done and now.  We have no choice.  It is not fair to say, no growth in my back yard.  We are all in this and it needs to be planned.  Been watching growth in Central Florida for last 35 years from the Orlando area.  New communities developed in just a few years.  People ARE going to come to Florida, no matter what.  Without growth, the cost of housing and other items would skyrocket in Florida, as it has already in some areas.  In the Orlando area there is massive growth, apartments and homes going up in every empty land location, and it is not enough, causing not fancy 2 bedroom apartments to rent for $1300.00 a month and paying $1000 a month to rent in the ghetto.  Growth will happen and the best we can hope for is well planned growth.  Just my point of view.

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  5. Beating a dead horse, Mark. It’s a done deal. What the developers want, they get. Private gain at public cost. I don’t see any way out of this endless loop of corruption because the law is written and administered by the people in power to most benefit the ones that bankroll and promote their political careers. There seems to be some sort of myopic idea that if we can just get enough money coming in from selling off that which makes our area special that we will be magically transformed into some paradise where everything is golden, but I’m afraid in reality our gold is just disappearing before our eyes. Thrown away I suppose in hopes of some grand strategic “vision” that someday we’ll all be riding dancing unicorns under rainbows

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  6. Well the answer is simple…If you don’t like what is being built on the land, buy it! The only way to control property is to own it. Buy it with Volusia Forever Funds. Land owners have constitutional rights and you cant subvert them, so you have to own it to control it. In the meantime, people are still having babies and people are still retiring to Florida. Population is growing and people have to live somewhere so there is plenty of demand for the construction boom as our own population grows. Did anyone stop you from building your house when you moved here in the name of preservation??? No? It was okay for you, but not your neighbors-to-be? The part I totally agree with is that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for any bonds for private development! Same principal, they own the land, they can find a way to finance its development!

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