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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Sep. 21, 2020 1 year ago

3 letters: On rezoning properties and remembering the 2019 special election

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Also, citizen voices his opinion about the city issuing Biketoberfest permits.
by: Guest Writer

Rezoned properties in and around Plantation Oaks

Dear Editor:

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Ormond Beach City Commission postponed its July 28 vote regarding the highly controversial removal of the over-55 designation in Phase 1 of Plantation Oaks. The city manager had put out a notice beginning as follows, “Agenda items related to Plantation Oaks will not be on the Virtual Commission Meeting Agenda for July 28."

However, during this virtual meeting a public hearing was held on Agenda Item 2020-38, a zoning map amendment involving 11 parcels in the Loop, 3 of which are within Plantation Oaks. These parcels were only identified by property ID numbers and a vague map on the notice making it difficult to visualize their locations in relation to Plantation Oaks. The commission approved this item at this first reading and again on Aug. 18 at the second reading with neither comment nor discussion.

Along with this zoning amendment came new land use designations with greater densities for the parcels from Volusia County zoning to Ormond Beach zoning.  The new use designations allow for medium density in the single family homes and six of the properties will permit cluster and townhouses. It should be noted that these parcels, which include three located on Old Dixie Highway, are heavily forested with old growth trees. There is no apparent reason to have changed the usage which was more restrictive.

It is troubling that the commission would allow for higher density projects in this area. Residential development in the Loop should be low-density consisting only of large lots with single family units. Development should be low-impact and emphasize tree preservation rather than wholesale clear-cutting of trees.

Not only was the public misled about the hearing of July 28 and Aug. 18 on these parcels, the August development report does not include a 2020-38 item, the number on the legal notice in the newspaper.  The August monthly report shows dates of upcoming hearings but not in this case.  For these reasons the votes on this issue should be nullified and the public hearing redone.

Connie Colby

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: City Planning Director Steven Spraker said in an email that these parcels are not owned by Plantation Oaks, nor are they part of the project. They are individually owned and were annexed to avoid enclaves when Plantation Oaks was annexed into the city. 

Permits for Biketoberfest

Dear Editor:

The decision by the Ormond Beach City Commission to effectively relocate the 2020 Biketoberfest from Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach was a dereliction of its duty to protect the citizens of our city. We are still in the midst of a pandemic that has sickened over 685,000 Floridians and killed 13,317 as of September 21, 2020. 

The mayor and City Commission need not look as far as the super-spreader event in Sturgis, South Dakota to see the potential impact of a party during a pandemic. Twenty-two Ormond Beach COVID-related deaths, dozens of additional resident cases and 14 staff member infections occurred at the Opis Coquina Center.  The first resident allegedly contracted the virus after attending Bike Week with his family in March 2020 as reported by The Daytona Beach News-Journal on May 27, 2020. 

Mayor Partington justified his vote on the belief that “people will come anyway." Compounding irresponsible behavior of potential visitors by hosting a large gathering during a pandemic is not good decision-making. Denying permits and publicizing that no special events will take place during the Biketoberfest weekend would have curtailed “people from coming anyway." Mayor Partington also thinks that Ormond Beach’s 37.19 square miles has more room to accommodate the event over Daytona Beach’s 68.17 square miles. I supported Mayor Partington in our last election but his questionable decisions during the pandemic guarantees I will not be supporting him again. 

Jeffrey Bourgoyne

Ormond Beach

2019 special election City Commission power grab

Dear Editor:

As the 2020 election approaches, we’d like to remind voters of the last city election in 2019 — including how the commission tried to change the election rules to favor incumbents.

On May 1, 2019, Volusia County Government held a special mail-in ballot election for a referendum to add a half-cent to the county sales tax. The Ormond Beach city commission approved putting the question on the ballot and announced plans to use the money for local road projects including the $40 million Hand Avenue extension. Voters rejected the sales tax increase by a 55% vote.  Note that, although two commissioners publicly opposed the sales tax increase, they never offered a plan to pay for the infrastructure for all the new development they’ve approved.

The countywide ballot initiative allowed cities to add their own referendum questions. The five incumbent Ormond Beach city commissioners took advantage, unanimously approving a referendum question asking voters to change two year terms to four years, even though four year terms were previously rejected by Ormond voters in 1999 and again in 2005. Our commissioners probably thought a low-turnout, April mail-in ballot would be an opportunity to slip-through the term extension so they could face fewer elections. Ormond voters rejected the four-year term proposal 65.7% to 34.3%. Reminder: Both Mayor Partington and Commissioner Kent have held office for 17 years and expect voters to extend those tenures to 19 years.

The special election cost $459,167.12, of which $23,547 was paid by Ormond Beach. The entire Commission voted in favor of the special election cost. 

The 2020 election is an important opportunity to elect new representatives who will respect citizen mandates for elections, environmental protections, and historic preservation, as well as fiscal-responsibility.  We encourage everyone to vote.

Julie and Ken Sipes

Ormond Beach

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