'Growth is going to occur,' said a local attorney.
Volusia County elected officials are hoping to dive into the smart growth conversation after the summer, once each municipality agrees to participate and all city and county planners discuss the topic among themselves.
This was the consensus reached at the Volusia County Elected Officials Roundtable meeting on Monday, June 10. The government leaders listened to a presentation by Clay Ervin, county director of Growth and Resource Management, on smart growth, as well as local attorney Glenn Storch, who said he looked at growth like a "three-legged stool." Elected officials need to take into consideration what the community, residents and landowners all need, he said.
“Growth is going to occur," Storch said. "It may not be the growth that you like, and it may not be the growth that you’d like to see, and it may not be the growth that incurs better growth that comes after this.”
If growth doesn't happen, he said, people could see another recession. To prevent that, government should encourage the "right kind" of investment and redevelopment. Storch spoke about tree preservation, and how it enhances properties and quality of life in the areas affected.
City and county leaders should be encouraging growth that minimizes traffic congestion, as the key to quality of life is traffic, Storch said. Elected officials could also speed up reviews for projects that are favorable as a way to incentivize them, he said.
He added that smart growth is a "nebulous concept."
"It should be an adaptive concept," Storch said. "It should be a concept that moves and changes as we go along.”
County Manager George Recktenwald said he wanted to make sure the elected officials all had a clear focus of what they wanted out of this smart growth discussion, as he has a "bookshelf full of studies" in his office.
In response, County Council Chair Ed Kelley said that everybody is concerned about growth. Having Ervin work with other city planners is a way to start addressing this, and that the process will likely take a couple of months.
He also said leadership on the subject should come from members of the public so that they see transparency.
“Let them be aware of what exactly what we can and cannot do by law," Kelley said. "We need to have everybody on board to understand the constraints that we’re facing.”
The next roundtable meeting will take place in September.