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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2019 1 week ago

County says Volusia is growing smart

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'Smart growth is not no growth,' said the county director of Growth and Resource Management.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Volusia County has been growing in a smart way since 1967, said Clay Ervin, Volusia County director of Growth and Resource Management, adding that projections for 2040 still keep the county in a "comfortable" state. 

Ervin recently presented an updated presentation on smart growth at the Roundtable of Volusia County Elected Officials on Monday, Sept. 9, where he discussed data gathered from municipalities on current population numbers and what those could look like in 2040. For Ormond Beach, that could mean a 15.4% increase over a 22-year period, based on estimated population counts in 2018. 

“Smart growth is not ‘no growth,’ and we have to remember that," Ervin said. "The whole point of making sure that you are able to respond and be able to evolve and be able to place the plans to accommodate the growth.”

With only 235,298 acres, some of which are undevelopable wetlands, Volusia County already has a relatively set development pattern regarding future land use, Ervin said, and explained that it's all about balance. The American Planning Association defines smart growth as "an approach to achieving communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable," providing choices in housing, transportation, jobs and recreational and social amenities. 

Ervin said he would give Volusia County an "A" grade if there was a smart growth report card, based on each jurisdiction's comprehensive plans and what's been achieved since 1967 when the "How We Should Grow" report and map were created. 

“You can’t measure smart growth on one project," Ervin said.

DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar said there is a "perception problem" involved with the topic of smart growth, and that elected officials should take on public education as a remedy. 

“It’s okay to grow smart over there, but it’s not smart when it’s in my backyard," Apgar said.

Ervin, who recently spoke about smart growth at an Ormond Beach Civil Discourse town hall, said many residents want to get involved, but do so once it's too late to make changes. Once land uses and zonings are in place, there's little elected officials can do when facing a developer's property rights, he said.

Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette brought up affordable housing, saying that it's needed to avoid shutting families out who can't afford the new homes being sold at $300,000 and up. He said understands developers are doing this because they can make a bigger profit, but that if they don't address it, there will be a lack of affordable homes in 20 years as cities build out.

County Council Chair Ed Kelley said the answer to making housing more affordable is creating high-paying jobs in the area. Then, those $300,000 homes will be affordable for those people. 

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