Woodstock South closing after city denies outdoor display, music
A kaleidoscope of color greets the eye when entering Woodstock South, 344 S. Yonge St. The store features tie-dyed shirts and other vibrant clothing along with jewelry and metal yard art. Music from the 1960s and a mild aroma of incense waft through the store.
“When people walk in the shop, I see a change come over them,” said owner David Oshman. “They get happy. They see something creative.”
But soon the store will have different occupants, as the owners are leaving, feeling unwelcome in their adopted home of Ormond Beach.
The store received warm vibes from local customers, according to owners Oshman and his wife, Kamonkwan Tongmusick. But they shed a few tears when they returned home from a City Commission meeting Sept. 19 where their request for a special exception was rejected.
“The main theme was that our store just didn’t belong on U.S. 1,” Tongmusick said recently. “We’re a blight and an eyesore to the neighborhood.”
The store had requested to have outdoor displays and outdoor music.
The couple, who live upstairs with daughter, Jennifer, opened the store in December, 2016.
“We were so excited and enthusiastic,” Oshman said.
The merchandise was similar to a store he operated 52 years ago in the days of flower power across from the Fillmore East in New York.
“Our desire was to brighten up U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach and create some excitement and self-expression in a very bland and overlooked area,” Tongmusick said.
Oshman said the area needs a little spirit and life.
The store has no drug paraphernalia, and, in fact, Oshman works in drug and alcohol rehabilitation and had self-help meetings in the store.
A shopper, Bridgett Brock, said the styles in the store have never gone out of fashion for her. She helps with sewing when needed around the shop. She said that’s the type of communal spirit she remembers from the 1960s.
Oshman has lived all over the world, and found Ormond Beach to be beautiful with its setting on the river and ocean. The location for his shop, however, was not ideal on busy U.S. 1, where traffic speeds by. “People are driving by and not shopping,” he said.
To help catch attention, Oshman inquired about displaying his colorful yard art in front of the store. He also asked for outdoor music, in an attempt to make the store a place for community interaction. Oshman envisioned block parties like he remembered years ago in Berkeley, California.
He was told by city staff that he would need to pay $1,650 for the city to consider the special exception.
The Planning Board approved an outdoor display six-to-one and outdoor music five-to-two, so he felt confident heading into the commission meeting.
After being rejected at the Commission meeting in a three-to-two vote, Oshmam said they decided to move.
“We put our building for sale and are finalizing arrangements to move our store and modest home to Massachusetts,” Tongmusick said. “The air may be colder but we believe their hearts will be warmer.”
The meeting was in September, but they are just now closing the store, having made arrangements to move. Oshman said he they have no anger, only disappointment, and that it was just a difference of opinion between them and the city.
THE COMMISSION DECISION
At the City Commission meeting, Steven Spraker, city planning director, said that staff recommended approval, saying a sound test was done for the outdoor music and it met the required decibel levels. The music would be allowed Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
Commissioner Dwight Selby said the owner of nearby Ormond Hotel had complained about music from the store on one occasion.
“What happened previously is not within the scope of what they are requesting tonight,” Spraker responded.
“It’s not just the six-foot tall rooster I’m looking at, it’s the precedent this sets.”
TROY KENT, city commissioner
The music that caused the complaint was not done in the volume or location required in the special exception. Spraker also said that if they received two noise complaints in a year, they would lose the privilege of having music.
The store had violated city code in the past by placing merchandise around their monument sign and in the grass in front of the store. Spraker explained that the special exception would not allow those locations. The outdoor display would be under the front overhang of the building.
Commissioner Troy Kent objected to an outdoor display.
“There is a reason we have rules against outdoor storage in Ormond Beach,” he said. “This to me, this picture on page 1138, screams this is why we have rules.”
The photo on page 1138 showed the merchandise around the monument sign and in the front grass.
“I can’t believe staff has given approval for this,” Kent said. “This is not what I believe the residents of Ormond Beach want to see.”
“This area needs a little spirit and life.”
DAVID OSHMAN, store owner
He said he wanted the store to be wildly successful but the stuff had to go inside the store.
He said he also met with the owner of the hotel and talked about the noise complaint.
Commissioner Rob Littleton said the outdoor display did not bother him, and he was comfortable with the rule about banning the music if two violations occur.
Kent said he was also concerned about other businesses requesting outdoor storage.
“It’s not just the six-foot tall rooster I’m looking at,” he said, referring to the photo, “it’s the precedent this sets.”
Selby agreed, saying the appearance is not what he considers to be Ormond Beach standards.
The couple were not asked any questions by the officials at the City Commission meeting. Selby, Kent and Commissioner Rick Boehm voted no, while Mayor Bill Partington and Littleton voted yes. (The meeting was in September before the election.)