Builders seek relief from height requirement
A landowner is seeking to build a three-story, climate-controlled storage facility on South Nova Road taller than local zones allow, and neighbors are concerned. But the landowner says he is making up for the extra height by leaving more buffer around the building than required.
“They are going up rather than out,” Planning Director Steven Spraker told the Planning Board at their Jan. 9 meeting.
The storage facility with 780 units is planned for 263 S. Nova Road on a 3.11-acre parcel on the north side of Fernery Lane.
The landowner is requesting a rezoning from B-8 (commercial) to Planned Business Development. In the PBD, the height would be 32.33 feet, rather than the zone-required 30 feet. In addition, there will be parapets on the corners extending the height to 42 feet.
Some residents of the Whispering Oaks subdivision are concerned, saying the size of the building would not fit in with the surroundings, and they also worry about increased traffic on Fernery Lane, a cul-de-sac.
Some of the Planning Board members made statements about the proposed building being too tall, but ended up recommending approval of the change in a split vote. Supporting comments alluded to the large buffers and the fact that Nova Road is a commercial corridor. It was also noted that a convenience store, retail, apartments, etc., could be constructed under present zoning. The presentation at the meeting also listed "sexually oriented business" as a permitted use, but board member Harold Briley pointed out this business would not be allowed because it requires more acreage than available at the site.
Spraker stated that average daily trips for a climate-controlled storage facility would be 154 compared to 854 for a 20,000-square-foot retail business, which could be allowed without a zoning change.
The development order would also allow the storage facility to have fewer parking spaces than required in the zone. They seek to have 14 spaces, rather than 52 as required in city code for that size storage facility. The documents at the Planning Board meeting included expert opinion that storage facilities do not require that much parking.
The City Commission will make the final decision on whether the zoning change and development order are approved in two readings, Jan. 21 and Feb. 4.
The property owner is Ormond Power Properties LLC and the developer is MV Commercial Development LLC.
Residents fear more traffic on Fernery Lane, saying they already have trucks turning into the road by accident from Nova Road, and then traveling to the end of their cul-de-sac to turn around. They fear it will happen more often with the storage facility. Also, they fear trucks with trailers won’t be able to turn left through a median cutout on Fernery Lane into the storage unit parking lot and will have to go to the end of Fernery Lane to turn around.
But developer representatives say their driveway on Fernery Lane will allow traffic to pull in rather than go down Fernery Lane. They also say they were required to show that garbage trucks and trucks with trailers will be able to turn left into the lot and not travel down Fernery Lane.
The height of the building also raised concerns.
“We feel it’s an eyesore,” said Candice Lucas, nearby resident.
Her daughter, Brianna, also spoke, saying she walks around the neighborhood with her dad.
“We don’t want to stare at a building that’s right there,” she said.
Robert Lucas said a 40-foot building would be out of place with no similar buildings in the area.
“What’s happening to Ormond Beach?” he asked. “I moved here 40 years ago and it was a desirable community.”
He said he was involved with zoning in his hometown in Massachusetts.
“We always took homeowners into consideration rather than developers,” he said.
Greg Venoma said he’d rather have the storage facility than a convenience store, but was concerned about the parapets.
Ted McTiernan called it a huge structure smashed into a residential area.
“It’s a monster,” he said. “This building is out of place.”
The developer was asked about lowering the parapets, but it’s not possible with the design because they conceal an elevator shaft.
Residents also feared traffic backups exiting onto Nova Road but were assured traffic would not be that heavy. Planning Board member G.G. Galloway told the audience that he makes frequent usage of storage facilities and has never had to wait in line to get into the properties.
Michael Woods, of Cobb Cole, representing the owner, said they took several measures to accommodate residents after two neighborhood meetings. There will be box-type lighting to direct lighting downward and limited signage. The driveway on Fernery lane has been moved farther away from the homes. There will be no monument sign, only wall signs. The dumpster has been incorporated inside the building. No windows will look out toward the neighborhood.
TREES AND BUFFERS
Noting that the design will preserve twice as many trees as required, and have a much larger buffer than required, Spraker told the board that staff recommended approval.
The building is expected to be mostly obscured from the neighborhood with the large treed buffer, but it’s unclear how visible the building will be to residents. Spraker said he could not guarantee there would be no viewpoints from the neighborhood.
According to a memo from the city’s landscape architect, since the area is heavily wooded, the Land Development Code requires that 15% of the natural vegetation remain. The development will retain 32%. The requirement for tree preservation is 12 specimen trees and the project is preserving 33 trees, the memo stated. The total tree requirement is 215 and the project shows 241 trees. No historic trees are on the site.
According to documents in the meeting packet, the front landscape along Nova Road is required to be 20 feet and a minimum landscape buffer of 25 feet is provided. The north requires a six-foot buffer and a landscape buffer of 20 feet is provided. The buffer along Fernery Trail is required to be 10 feet and a minimum landscape buffer of 12.5 feet is provided. The rear landscape buffer requirement is 20 feet and a minimum buffer of 67 feet is provided in the plans.
AND THE WINNER IS
Board member Mike Scudiero agreed with residents that the building seems out of place.
“It’s a bit of a square peg,” he said. “It’s a large building … 780 storage units.”
Lori Tolland, board member, said she thinks it might not be a perfect fit, but Nova is a commercial area.
She said the traffic problems are workable, saying signage could be used to protect the community.
Other commissioners pointed out the other businesses that could be there, without a zoning change.
“There will be a public outcry no matter what goes there,” Galloway said. “This is a commercial corridor. It’s something we have to face.”
Board member Al Jorczak pointed out the trees, saying the live oaks could be 60 feet tall in 15 to 20 years. Jorscak made a motion to approve the rezoning and the development order. It was approved 4-1 with Scudiero voting no.
Harold Briley and Galloway had to recuse themselves from the vote. Briley is on the Board of Directors of the Whispering Oaks HOA and Galloway’s real estate company represented the seller of the lot.