CANDO is back.
In light of the community's shock over the clearing for the upcoming Granada Pointe development, a group of nine core individuals has risen to ensure the citizens' voices are heard in the future.
CANDO 2, led by Ormond Beach residents Ken and Julie Sipes and former City Commissioner Jeff Boyle, is a recently formed volunteer group whose purpose is to facilitate communication between citizens and government on relevant issues. The first CANDO was instrumental in restricting building heights on the beachside in 2006. Boyle said that, unlike the original group, CANDO II is not political and will not receive or donate money for campaigns.
“We’re not interested in elections," Boyle said. "We’re interested in communication.”
CANDO 2's hope is to bridge the disconnect between the citizens and local government, especially when it comes to development. For Julie Sipes, the issue feels personal because, over the past 10 years, she and her husband have been trying to get a group together to advocate awareness for environmentally-friendly growth. She said it feels like it has fallen on "deaf ears" in the past, and Granada Pointe was the culmination of it all, irrevocably altering the character of the city.
“I don’t care if it’s a great Wawa that everybody is gushing over," Julie Sipes said. "It doesn’t belong here.”
The issue is not the developer, said Boyle, but the way the system is set up. Developer Paul Holub received unanimous approvals from both the city's planning board and the City Commission.
“In fairness to [Holub], I think he's been bewildered and shocked to a degree by the public reaction against the project," Boyle said. "I mean, those of us who are tree huggers will say ‘well, how could he be?’ but, what he’s done is his entire career and done it well.”
Boyle also said that, as a former city commissioner, he knows that the City Commission wants what's best for the city and that anyone that sits on the commission loves Ormond Beach. CANDO 2 just wants to make sure everyone's opinion is respected.
“And in that sense, nobody is the enemy," Boyle said. "Nobody is polarized, and, ultimately we want to bring the people together.”
The group is also not against development, but due to the city's shrinking number of available parcels for development, one of CANDO 2's goal is to make sure the development that does occur is well-thought-out.
“If the city is built out, that means that the further development that we have needs to be very sensitive and sustainable,” Ken Sipes said.
They also want to ensure Ormond Beach's character is preserved.
“We just don’t want Ormond to turn into Every Town USA,” Julie Sipes said.