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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Jul. 21, 2021 3 months ago

Church's fate is sealed: Demolition to begin next week

Also in City Watch: Commission approves zoning districts for food truck operations.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Correction: This story was updated at 12:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21, to reflect Commissioner Rob Littleton voted against prohibiting car and motorcycle washes during special events. A previous version reported the commission vote was unanimous.

With demolition of the Ormond Beach Union Church structure at 56 N. Beach St. slated to begin early next week, citizens approached the City Commission one final time pleading for a six-month delay — this time, bringing forward a last-minute offer to buy the property for $300,000.

The offer was brought forward by Ormond resident Frank Diefenderfer at the commission’s meeting on Tueday, July 20, and excluded the riverfront parcel. However, the commission was not interested in the proposal, which would have needed to go through a formal request process that City Attorney Randy Hayes estimated could take about four months.

City Commissioners Troy Kent and Susan Persis did express an interest in selling the property — which the city bought in 2018 for $729,000 — post-demolition for a profit. Kent threw out a figure of $1.29 million for both the church and riverfront parcel, if that’s the direction the commission chooses in the end.

“Let the residents of Ormond Beach make some money on this deal if we’re going to sell,” Kent said.

At the end of the meeting, Kent also criticized Civil Discourse, a citizens civic group, for taking a side on the church issue. Civil Discourse Founder Linda Williams, who was visibly offended by Kent's remarks, had previously written in a letter to the editor in the Observer that what the group was advocating for was a delay of the demolition to allow all parties to reach a decision together. 

A temporary shell parking lot will replace the 1960 church, which was named one of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 to save” on Tuesday, June 21. The irony was not lost on Mayor Bill Partington who, along with Commissioner Dwight Selby, was against the demolition.

“Literally, we’re paving paradise and putting up a parking lot,” Partington said. “That bothers me too — just the optics of that are horrible.”

Partington said he envisions something more than a parking lot for the property.

Resident Amy Valcik said to the commissioners that time will tell what they ultimately had in mind when they bought the property.

“Rest assured, we will not forget the commission’s stunning and arrogant dismissal of our voices on this issue,” Valcik said.

A win for food trucks

Food trucks finally have a place in Ormond Beach.

The City Commission unanimously approved a land development code amendment at its Tuesday, July 20, meeting, that will allow food trucks to operate in the B-8 Commercial and I-1 Light Industrial zones.

This amendment was brought forth after the state passed a law that banned local government entities from prohibiting food trucks. Previously, food trucks were only allowed during special events held by the city or a nonprofit, at breweries in the I-1 zone and along North U.S. 1 as part of itinerant vending.

Food trucks are still prohibited in the downtown district.

Tentative millage rate set

The city has set a millage rate of 4.0308 mils, which is the same rate as the current tax rate and includes a dedicated public safety vehicle and equipment replacement fund.

The operating tax rate of 3.9128 mils is 4.7% above the rollback rate of 3.7370, according to city staff.

The first budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8.

No bikini car washes

The commission unanimously voted to prohibit car and motorcycle washes citywide during special events such as Bike Week and Biketoberfest.

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