Poor timing and optics? Tone deaf aggression? Abject corporate stupidity? Limitless greed?
Hell, you pick one – because I’m at a loss. . .
Tomorrow evening at 7:00pm, a group of concerned residents will attend a neighborhood meeting at Steve’s Famous Diner on North Atlantic Avenue to oppose a monolithic 29-story, 267-unit condominium project “…planned on 500 ft of direct oceanfront in the heart of Daytona Beach” by out-of-town developer Gelcorp Industries.
To expand the project’s ominous footprint even more, a “sales office” is planned west of North Atlantic Avenue at the intersection of Brookline Avenue.
Unfortunately, this week I have been virtually bedridden with the most virulent and debilitating of all known maladies: The dreaded “Man Cold” – perhaps the worst in recorded medical history – and will not be capable of physically dragging myself there. (Although a steaming bowl of Christos’ delicious soup with homemade bread would no doubt cure this thing in short-order. . .)
While I won’t be able to attend the meeting in person, I’ve been to these code mandated dog-and-pony shows before – where a glib and extremely well-coiffed land use attorney does his or her best to sell the (insert latest obnoxious development here) to “owners and occupants of nearby lands” (Read: Those poor saps who will be most affected by the monstrosity – for the rest of their natural lives – or until they sell-out and move. . .)
Given the disastrous effects of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole on all 47-miles of Volusia County beaches, that “most affected” category is rapidly expanding to everyone who lives and pays property insurance premiums in Florida.
While these “developer initiated” meetings rarely change the trajectory of things short-term – they are an excellent opportunity to let corporate greedheads, and our elected representatives, know there is some shit we won’t eat. . .
To show the lunacy of even considering putting another high-rise building on the unstable sand east of A-1-A until a contiguous long-term solution can be found (and funded), the photograph above was taken by the intrepid civic activist and president of Sons of the Beach, Paul Zimmerman, with the frightening caption:
“This is a picture of the property for the proposed monstrosity after Hurricane Nicole. After this picture was taken there were two more high tides which actually took another 10-15 feet of the lot. It has become hazardous to build on the east side of A1A.”
From what I have seen of the project’s conceptual plans, in typical fashion, the pool deck will abut a proposed “seawall/retaining wall” built on the extreme eastern terminus of the property line.
Like many have repeated as we come to grips with our new reality on the beachside, “Doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different outcome, is the textbook example of insanity.”
And, in my view, the mere thought of foisting more development east of A-1-A on shell-shocked residents is a cruel madness that only faceless speculative developers and compromised politicians are capable of. . .
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Gelcorp is trying to ramrod a rezoning and comp plan amendment at this precarious time – especially when one civically attuned resident counted ten properties in the same general area (from Oakridge Boulevard north to Bellaire Plaza) that are either vacant, abandoned, or slowly under construction – who speculated the developer merely wants to secure the planned development designation then hope pre-sales of the proposed units provide funding for construction.
Other concerned citizens are rightly suggesting that government begin the process of obtaining these vacant beachfront properties, “rewilding” the dunes, and turning what remains of these undeveloped parcels into a “living shoreline,” the natural protective barrier to erosion.
I don’t have the answers.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that those who accept public funds to serve in the public interest do either.
In my view, with several high-rise structures and numerous residential properties teetering precariously on what remains of the dunes in Wilber-by-the-sea and beyond, it is time for our beach management experts and “planning and zoning” types to begin the long (and extremely expensive) process of determining how we live symbiotically with the forces of Mother Nature in a coastal community with a history of rubberstamping every new development that comes down the sandy pike.
Don’t hold your breath.
When are city, county, and state officials going to get off their sizeable asses and enact a reasonable moratorium on development east of the Coastal Construction Control Line until a viable erosion control program can be studied and implemented that will protect existing residential and commercial structures and public infrastructure before the next “500-year storm” pays us a visit next year – or next month?
If you live in the Ortona area – or simply care about good government and smart development on our fragile barrier island – I encourage you to attend the neighborhood meeting and let your voice be heard.
For more information, please go to the informative Facebook site: https://tinyurl.com/4m9zmutp where you can stay abreast of developments and communicate with likeminded neighbors.
Trust me. This one’s important.