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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 1 week ago

'Overkill for businesses': Additional restriction for rural venues in Volusia struck down by council

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The requirement would have made rural event centers give the county a written notice of planned events.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

The Volusia County Council denied adding a notification requirement for rural event centers in a 6-1 vote — with only Councilman Ben Johnson in favor of the amendment —  citing lack of existing code enforcement officers and that the condition was too "heavy-handed" for businesses.

The notification requirement would have made rural event centers provide the county zoning enforcement official with written notices of scheduled events, as well as specify what activities were planned. This would enable one of the five existing code enforcement employees to be assigned to verify that the event complies with noise and time restrictions outlined in the existing special exception, in response to noise complaints.

“I think this is overkill for our businesses," County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler said. 

With there only being five code enforcement officers in the county,  all of whom are not ordinarily scheduled to work in the evenings or weekends when events would be taking place, Wheeler disagreed that the county should move in this direction. According to the agenda item, staff was tasked with looking into a notification requirement by council at the Oct. 15 meeting. However County Councilwoman Deb Denys said staff came back with a "vice grip."

There was also the issue of law enforcement being called in regards to noise complaints. Citizens don't usually call the county to handle these types of issues, Councilwoman Heather Post pointed out during the discussion. 

Johnson said the requirement was brought up to correct the fact the county's code enforcement is short staffed. If staff knows an event is coming up, they can schedule someone to check in on it should there be ongoing issues at that particular center. If the business refuses to comply, the county can repeal the special exception, which already has 11 existing conditions for approval including a 10 acre minimum lot size, 20-foot-wide landscape buffers and restrictions on operating hours. 

There are seven rural event centers currently going through various stages of approval in the county. In this same meeting, the council approved one to be located in New Smyrna Beach. 

Denys questioned whether the county's current ordinance on rural event centers was enforceable as it stood, and when she was told that it was, she asked why the county needed the additional condition. County Manager George Recktenwald said it would make it easier for code enforcement to know what is happening in a specific area.

“We’re shooting at a target that doesn’t exist right now," Denys said.

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