Reader asks why city government can't just say no.
Smart growth. A term that's been thrown around a lot lately. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what it is, and sometimes it should be obvious what it isn’t. Sticking to existing zoning might at least be a good start. Ormond Beach commissioners voted 4-1 July 30th for a resolution that allows a zoning exception for a restaurant type C with a drive-thru at the new Phase 2 Shoppes on Granada just east of Lowes. The land is zoned B-10, which is intended for low traffic businesses like financial offices, veterinary clinics, etc. In this case, the developer cobbled together several small pieces of property that were formerly residences, trees, an animal hospital and a retention pond.
B-10 zoning “projects a lower intensity suburban environment” and is “particularly suitable for use along major entrance routes where it is in the interest to minimize access cuts in order to promote safety and avoid traffic congestion.” How ironic. The fact that an Aldi grocery store is going on that lot with a projected 2,000 trips in and out each day is already not in the intent of B-10 zoning. Compounding the problem, the developer is seeking a special exception for a drive-thru restaurant, reportedly Starbucks, adjacent to Aldi’s parking lot. I’m pretty sure most people are happy about an Aldi and a Starbucks drive-thru coming to western Ormond Beach, but that’s not really the issue.
Added to the other (permitted) businesses going there, nearly 4,000 cars will be going in and out of the Phase 2 Shoppes daily. The bad news is that Aldi and the drive-thru will basically share one main entrance with no deceleration/turn lane from eastbound Granada and traffic jockeying from multiple directions just 30 feet inside the entrance. Anyone going west on Granada will not find it easy to get there at all.
As Commissioner Troy Kent put it rather succinctly when he was the solo “no” vote, there are right uses for this location and a restaurant type like this is not a right use. “It’s going to be jammed up.” The traffic issues were somewhat worrying to Mayor Partington, but not so much to Commissioners Selby, Littleton and Persis, who said she (personally) didn’t see a traffic problem on Granada.
The city surely spent a lot of time planning land use and zoning, yet it seems that zoning can be twisted to include just about anything. Yes, developers have a right to build on their properties as we often hear from city and elected officials, but there should be a good reason for an exception to the zoning. Why can’t government officials just say no? There is a major difference in traffic impact between small businesses that generate 50-200 cars a day and businesses that generate thousands. How about something novel. Tell developers to seek tenants that fall under the permitted zoning instead of bending over backwards to help them circumvent it.
Editor’s Note: The traffic counts are based on a traffic study published in the June 13, 2019, Planning Board meeting packet in www.ormondbeach.org.