Sipes write open letter to the City Commission
With the Commission's final approval to add a carwash at Granada Pointe, we'd like to share our final thoughts, in the form of an open-letter to the Commission, based on Julie's speech given at the City Commission Meeting on 3/21:
Good evening Commission. My name is Julie Sipes.
The trees are all gone. There are large concrete blocks with hooks to strap-down gas tanks. This is needed when a gas station is on a floodplain, so that the tanks won’t float away.
The sad tale of Granada Pointe began in 2015 & 2016, when the Commission approved the land use designation of 8.6 acres of Residential Property, and the remaining 11 acres from primarily Office-Professional to Residential-Office-Retail. Add to that the Special Exception and rezoning that allowed a gas station and drive-through.
For me and many others, this rezoning and special exceptions is the “original sin” of Granada Pointe.
The second “sin,” if you will, was the Planned Business Development “loophole,” which allowed the developer to assemble the parcels of land to form a massive, high-density development, resulting in the wholesale clear-cutting of our greenbelt.
Which brings me to the final “sin.” Despite the fill requirement for floodplains, many trees could have been saved. Creative methods, such as sloping and tree-canopy wells, could have been employed.
These decisions have resulted in the permanent alteration of this crucial area, this gateway to our city, for the worst, and we grieve over that. Clear-cutting a forest for a gas station/convenience store and a carwash is not progress.
There were numerous times when the Commission could have considered the objections of the residents, but they refused to listen. Many of us felt we were stonewalled from the very beginning, dating back to the first neighborhood meetings in the summer of 2017 (before the clear-cut), when many residents came out to voice their opposition. These rezonings beg the question — of which was never answered: Why was the zoning weakened to allow development so inconsistent with this area? We hear a lot about “property owner rights.” What about the rights of those surrounding, incumbent homeowners?
Regarding the carwash, it is disturbing that the Commission would so easily go against Ormond’s Comprehensive Plan and the advice of professionals in our own Planning Department. The Commission is setting a dangerous precedence if it approves the carwash; to claim that it is a retail product or personal service when it is clearly an automotive service. You are opening “Pandora’s Box.”
This crass commercialization will cause this once beautiful and classy area to resemble Nova Road and U.S. 1. Indeed, it’s a sad state-of-affairs when we are left with a choice between a carwash and a fast-food restaurant, and that a carwash is justified because a gas station will “already be there.”... Do you see the irony? The truth, is none of them belong there.
Ken and Julie Sipes
Editor’s Note: According to Ormond Beach city staff, the Wawa property was in a high-risk flood zone, but with site development and the addition of fill, the property has been raised in elevation, and FEMA has been asked to amend the designation to minimal risk flood zone. The property owner said that the concrete slab will serve as a foundation, and the purpose of the hooks is to lift it into place at the bottom of the excavated area.