In a 4-1 vote, the city commissioners voted to allow rezoning changes to the land proposed for Tomoka Estates apartments on Interchange Boulevard.
Despite concerns from residents and a negative recommendation from the planning board, the city commissioners voted 4-1 for the first reading of an ordinance in favor of allowing an affordable housing development to be built on Interchange Boulevard.
About 50 people attended the city commission on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and a majority of those people were residents from the Southern Trace neighborhood, which is nearby the land proposed for the Tomoka Estates apartments. In August, based on the concerns raised by the neighborhood, the planning board voted 5-1 to deny recommendation for the rezoning of the property. With it's current B7 zoning, the developers could build 65 apartment units, but they wished to rezone the property to a planned business development to allow 100 units to be built.
"This is workforce housing that probably all of us at some time in our life would have eligible for," Developer Paul Holub said. "I know I would've."
During his presentation, Holub discussed market values for apartments in the area, which for example, go upward of $1,000 for a two-bedroom unit. He also pointed out that Tomoka Estates will not be Section 8 housing. Tomoka Estates would potentially house people like teachers, blue collar workers, nurses and other young professionals starting out.
Tomoka Estates will be managed by Beneficial Community — the same agency that runs the Olive Grove apartments on Granada Boulevard. Olive Grove is an affordable housing development that has a 600-person waiting list, outlining the need of additional affordable housing in Ormond Beach.
Holub said the neighbors aren't really opposing the impact of the apartments on the area, but more the idea of not knowing what can happen.
"They oppose the unknown of who their neighbor is," Holub said. "Of who is actually going to reside in that apartment and it's people like ourselves throughout the year that actually live in this type of complex."
Mayor Bill Partington received 15 cards for public comment on the ordinance — three of which were from Beneficial Community and the land developers. Out of the remaining speakers, seven spoke in favor and five spoke against rezoning the land for Tomoka Estates.
One of the residents that spoke against the ordinance was Southern Trace resident Dan Allen, who has lived in Ormond Beach since 2002.
"We moved there for quality of life and real estate values," Allen said. "I could have moved to an area with low-income housing but I did not."
He raised concerns about traffic, decreased property values and increased crime in the area.
After about an hour of public comment, the commissioners voiced their thoughts. Commissioner Dwight Selby said that while he believes there is a need for affordable housing in Ormond, he didn't believe this particular plot of land was the best use for that. He was the only commissioner to vote against the development. While Commissioner Troy Kent voted in favor, he said he did so only because he was worried that the residents would have to deal with a more unpleasant development in the future if this one doesn't get built.
"As far as I'm concerned, I feel an obligation to provide affordable housing in this community," Commissioner Rick Boehm said "This is a poor county, no matter what you might want it to be."
Boehm said the number of service-heavy industries in the area have increased, and that Ormond Beach is developing.
"There's somewhere that those people need to live, and they deserve to live somewhere nice," Boehm said.