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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jul. 20, 2021 4 months ago

4 letters: Union Church, the airport, speeding on Granada and water taxis

What these readers had to say about local issues.
by: Guest Writer

More to the story

Dear Editor:

In regards to the airport, one of the commissioner's stated the three property owners were invited to get their own appraisals. That is true, however; there is more to the story.   

The FAA had a zoom meeting with the city. Notes from that meeting included the following:

  • The Uniform Act applies to this land acquisition.
  • The FAA strongly recommends the city retain a firm well-versed in this law.   
  • The city did not follow the Uniform Act, they went under their own city code.  

The offer stated we could "get an appraisal at our expense to render a third opinion. Should we select this opportunity, under the city's code of ordinances, the city may consider the average of the two closest appraisals."  When our attorney inquired what would happen if our appraisals came back significantly higher, the city stated it "most likely would not entertain them." 

The two appraisals had a 18.65% difference. That is a significant difference. After being told it would cost between $2,500-$5,000 to get an appraisal, it seemed pointless.

The Uniform Act allows for negotiations and helps people being displaced from their homes with relocation or moving expenses.

The property owners did not know nor had they been met with about easements. Yet, in the Environmental Report signed off in March 2018, the city stated it met with the three property owners and that they were amenable to easements. We never knew anything about an easement until January 2019 when we received a certified "Notice To Owner."

When we were hand-delivered an "Offer To Owner," the city mentioned an RPZ zone (crash zone) being put on our property.  

The reason an eminent domain attorney was retained is, not only did five attorneys state the city had done the first two steps of eminent domain, we were finding out things the city failed to tell us, like wanting over 622 jet operations and becoming an executive airport; and investigating the feasibility of increasing the critical design aircraft to C-II to encourage larger corporate jets with faster approach speeds and require more fuel. 

Does the city realize with larger jets they need a 1700-foot RPZ in lieu of the minimum 1,000-foot RPZ? Also, later we found there were four trees that were west of their RPZ easement and the city said it could just take those trees for free, because of Chapter 333. We were not informed — we had to research it all. 

Karin Augat

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: The city of Ormond Beach was given a chance to respond.

City: The Ormond Beach Airport has been an active airfield in the community since 1943 as a training facility for the Navy and as a general aviation airport since 1959. All planned improvements at the airport are part of the Airport Master Plan. All planned improvements at the airport are advertised following federal and state protocols, which include advertisement in the newspaper. Public meetings regarding the runway extension project were held on the following dates: April 28, 2015, August 24, 2015, January 2, 2018, and March 23, 2018. 

The runway extension project has never been a matter of eminent domain, only voluntary acquisition. The property owners asked the city to consider purchasing the properties entirely. The city agreed to consider purchasing the properties as voluntary acquisitions. The city conducted two independent, certified appraisals of the properties. The property owners disagreed with the appraised values and were unwilling to justify their asking price with a certified appraisal.

The city's planned airport improvement projects will not permit use of the airport by aircraft larger than those that may currently use the airport.

It is not too late

Dear Editor:

First off, thank you Mayor Partington for calling the special meeting, and thank you to the mayor and Commissioner Selby for advocating for the very reasonable request to pause the demolition of Union Church in order to fully explore all options available for the church property.

I think most people would agree that the argument for delaying the demolition is compelling, and we cannot understand why it would be denied. Commissioners Kent, Persis, and Littleton's case against such a delay was weak, as there is a possibility that the building is reasonably salvageable. As far as rodents and asbestos, those would need to be removed whether the building was demolished or preserved.

Lastly, in addressing financial value, profitability, and "money attached" to the property, as Commissioner Selby pointed out, how can that be determined without the opportunity to fully research all options? For example, the church may qualify for grant money. Furthermore, it makes no sense to deny potential investors — such as Salty Church — a chance to further examine the option to buy.

Commissioner Littleton: What is your asking price?

The people are asking for more time. We know it's not too late for Commissioners Kent, Persis, or Littleton to change their minds (and their votes), which may not be easy, but is the right thing to do.

Ken and Julie Sipes

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: This letter was originally addressed and submitted to the Ormond Beach City Commission.

Granada Boulevard shouldn’t be a highway, even if it legally is one

Dear Editor:

A number on a shield can lead to a lot of confused priorities. Ormond Beach's Main Street, Granada Boulevard, is part of State Road 40, a state highway that extends from Ormond Beach to Dunnellon through countless towns like Ormond Beach. Its designation as a highway may sow confusion about its purpose, but let’s be clear: Rhese few blocks, from U.S. 1 to A1A, need to be a street, not a road or a Stroad (A Stroad is a street/road hybrid. It is the futon of transportation alternatives. Where a futon is a piece of furniture that serves both as an uncomfortable couch and an uncomfortable bed, a Stroad is not a great street or a great road).

In the downtown, cars should move slowly and cautiously, and planning priority should be given to creating a great destination. There is a very direct conflict between safety and speed. Driving 35 mph is too fast.

We need to redesign the roadway to slow down the traffic, and signs alone will not be sufficient. If drivers passing through our downtown (using Granada as a thoroughfare) have their trip extended by one or two minutes, so be it. It’s one or two minutes. There are other routes leading to the beachside that they can take that would take much longer.

Bill Partington II

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: Bill Partington II is the mayor's father, and he recently completed the speed calming and speed management course of the FDOT Design Manual and Applications Training by the Center for Urban Transportation Research.

Water taxi insanity, bait and switch?

Dear Editor:

I once had a boss who was an old country boy, and like most of his kind, was long on common sense. When presented with dubious information, he would say “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining."

The Cross Florida Barge Canal was a bonehead proposal by business to ditch the Withlacoochee and Ocklawaha rivers for a barge canal for shipping interests. One thing that helped defeat it was called a “cost/benefit” analysis. Basically, is the cost worth what you get? It takes 30 seconds to go 1500 feet across the Granada Bridge by car, rain or shine. By water taxi you’re exposed to weather, must load/unload, and still walk for blocks. Water taxi users would take precious public parking space from park Users.

Who buys/maintains/stores the boat, sits at the dock all day, and pays operational costs?

A $50,000 design, high cost of dock, additional cost of design and building an Eastside dock to disembark at Fortunato park would be absurd. Are you using our tax dollars to compete with private taxis and Uber?

Let’s discuss bait and switch. Propose one thing, do another. There are enough docks at the Granada parks, especially Cassen Park.The only logical place left to build one is, you guessed it, next to the developers’ underwater private property next to the park, which would give the owners free, publicly-funded dockage and park access.

Details for the near-million dollar baithouse are not clear, but are said to include a kitchen for food prep and an office. The current bait shop location is said to be “unsafe” and too close to the water.

Photo courtesy of J.R. Miller

Will we have a gazebo constructed there, eliminating the best river view and fishing location at the par?  Also included is another new gazebo, in an unknown location. What else is hidden in that near million dollar price?

We were told the breakwater for the floating dock would be an innovative, ecologically, and aesthetically pleasing oyster bar with mangrove islands. You see what we got. The multi-million floating dock project and rock breakwater, space for 8-10 boats ($150,000 per), and a concrete eyesore. The continuous push for more dockage makes it appear the city wants to put in a marina in stages. This picture is a clue. When asked about the sign, the city took it down the next day.

Wake up boaters, fisherman, park users, speak out! Don’t commercialize our river parks.

J.R. Miller

Ormond Beach


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