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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jun. 22, 2020 3 months ago

3 letters: Preserving the Loop

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Readers weigh in on the Plantation Oaks amendments sought by the developer.
by: Guest Writer

Better together

Dear editor,

These days it seems as if the events we are experiencing nationwide are all pointing towards the need for us to work better together to change past
mistakes. Ormond Beach development is desperately in need of working together for a change to make our city better. What we hear from politicians and citizens alike these days is we must learn to compromise. Here is a grand opportunity to do so right in our own neighborhood. The City Commission wants higher property taxes from Plantation Oaks, which is immediately adjacent to the Loop and the Tomoka Basin marshland. The Tomoka Basin marshland is already declared an impaired waterway by the state. The city and county will get that tax money only by rescinding the 55 and older age restriction.

The citizens do not want the double or triple traffic congestion, pollution and safety hazards dumped on to the Loop resulting from higher density family-living vs. retirees. The compromise we all preach about would be to close the entrances/exits onto the Loop from Plantation Oaks with gates if they like. They can use U.S. 1 for entrance/exit and build more onto it if needed. If a hurricane approaches, the gates can be opened by the HOA well in advance. I really don’t know why they would want to evacuate in that direction. A two-lane road parallel to the coast and heading to the east is not an approved evacuation route for a coastal hurricane.

Here’s a big chance to show to those who are skeptical that a government coalition can work to the benefit of the citizens and we can have smarter growth. We might even make national news in a good way. The city gets its taxes and water fees, and the citizens get to maintain their quality of life the way they know it is necessary. If you don’t believe this is what the citizens want, hold a mail-in voting referendum. It will go the same way as the failed sales tax vote. With Ormond Beach already being squeezed with congestion from projects in Daytona to the south that we have no control over, we don’t need to be squeezed from the north at the same time by Plantation Oaks which we hold the key to. It is time for the City Commission to lead the way to all of us working together. We don’t have to trade increased tax receipts for decreased quality of life this time.

Mary Anne Andrew

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: The amendments have yet to be discussed at a meeting by the City Commission. The Planning Board recommended approval at its June 11 meeting.

Preserving the rest of the Loop

Dear Editor,

Plantation Oaks, a project located in the Loop, which was approved back in 2002, is back in the news due to the requested partial-rezoning of Phase 1. The amendment would remove the over-55 age restriction and require traditional “brick-and-mortar homes” instead of manufactured homes.

As with everything, there is a trade-off, but overall, this rezoning might be for the better. This is mostly because residents will now pay property tax to the city, and, for a variety of reasons, site-built houses are preferred over manufactured homes. But the attention this project has received, of which much of the land was cleared by 2018, highlights how precious this area is to all who reside here. Nobody wants to see this special and unique area on the “developer chopping block."

Allowing in the Loop any high-density development, such as Plantation Oaks, is a bad thing. It is doubly-tragic that the developer chose and was allowed to clear-cut the land, rather than follow Low Impact Development, the highest of standards, which happens to be in Ormond’s code. A subdivision resembling The Trails, Bear Creek, or Tymber Creek would’ve been a lot easier for folks to swallow.

Unfortunately, with Plantation Oaks, much of the damage has been done. We believe Ormond Citizens would like some assurance as to the future of the Loop, hoping to see most of it preserved. What about the other phases of Plantation Oaks? What other projects are slated or being considered?

We encourage our elected officials to think creatively to achieve an acceptable outcome for all and conserve this distinctively beautiful area.

Ken and Julie Sipes

Ormond Beach

Plantation Oaks Over-Development on the Loop

The Loop  is a scenic wonder beloved by Ormond Beach residents and visitors from all over the world. In 1986, the road became threatened when Volusia County approved an almost 4,000 home mega-development between I-95 and Old Dixie Highway. At that time, City Commission resolutions and letters to the county asserted adverse effects on Ormond Beach.

On November 21, 2002, Volusia County approved the Plantation Oaks development order for 1,577 manufactured homes with an intersection on the Loop that would destroy 700 feet of tree line. Thirty citizens spoke against the proposal, none in favor, before the County Council voted to approve the application. 

On December 3, 2002, Ormond Beach citizens packed city hall and the commission directed the filing of a formal appeal to the County Council. In 2003, residents planted 2,000 "Save the Loop" yard signs all over town. But the rehearing never happened, and the ruling stood. By 2007, pristine forest was clear-cut, the land was filled, and water retention ponds were excavated.

Inexplicably, the city annexed Plantation Oaks in 2019, agreeing to provide water and sewer while receiving no property taxes. After 35 years of near-unanimous public opposition, who pushed for the annexation? Why wasn’t such an impactful annexation decision put before the people in a public referendum?

Today, the developer is back before the commission seeking amendments to switch nearly half the homes to traditional construction with removal of the over-55 age restriction (think kids, school bus, teens driving, loud motorcycles and pickup trucks). Bet on rubber-stamp approvals.

The Plantation Oaks urban sprawl to our north, incompatible with homes in Halifax Plantation and Ormond Lakes to the south, will choke the Loop and Beach Street with new traffic.

To the west, we have the proposed Avalon Park mini-city, located on acreage annexed by Daytona Beach. That annexation reneged on a long-standing boundary agreement with our city, and, as part of a 2006 settlement of the dispute, Ormond Beach city officials agreed to provide water and sewer at wholesale cost to the Daytona development. We’ll collect one-time impact fees but enable more urban sprawl. Our city should now withdraw from the service agreement.

The city of Ormond Beach is for sale, and has been since we weakened our wetland and development rules in 2009 and began granting waivers and exceptions for huge multi-parcel planned business developments.

We’re selling out our environment and our city’s historic character for money, and we’re trampling the rights of adjacent property owners protesting each rezoning. These decisions are being made for us and not by us. Elections have produced tragic consequences.

Lori Bennett

Ormond Beach

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