A county town hall meeting led by Councilwoman Heather Post discussed speeding, septic tanks and the rezoning of 1,900 homes.
With imminent changes coming to the north peninsula, Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post advised Ormond-by-the-Sea residents to be involved in their community and make their opinions and wishes known.
That's what helps lead what elected officials do, she said to the approximate 60 people who attended the county town hall meeting at Riverview United Methodist Church on Monday, April 29. Residents posed questions and concerns about septic tanks, speeding on John Anderson, annexation and county accessibility. While Post didn't have an answer to all their questions, she said she was there to help represent them at the county level, and promised to look into various suggestions and problems raised at the meeting.
“Every decision I make in the role — which is probably why there have been some kerfuffles — those decisions are made based on that," Post said.
Coming soon to the north peninsula
As part of Volusia County addressing its various emergency medical service needs, plans to station an ambulance in Volusia County Fire Station 14 are currently underway. The ambulance will be fully staffed, and will remain at the fire station for 12 hours a day starting this fall.
The county hopes this will help alleviate long response times, especially with the lack of an emergency room on the north peninsula. The former Florida Hospital Oceanside is now gone.
In mid-February, Volusia County Public Protection Director Joseph Pozzo told the Ormond Beach Observer that EMS had received 499 calls for service in the north peninsula from Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018. The average ambulance response time was 13 minutes and 24 seconds, while the fire department arrived in five minutes and 27 seconds.
Since the county can't make the hospital build another emergency room on the north peninsula, Post said, what government can do is make sure an ambulance is closer to those residents.
“To me, that is an absolute necessity," Post said. "It’s ambulance service, for heaven’s sake, right? We must make sure that we get that.”
Volusia County is also seeking to rezone about 1,900 homes homes east of John Anderson Drive, west of Ocean Shore Boulevard, north of Sandcastle Drive and south of Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park, from urban single-family residential R-4 zoning to urban single-family residential R-5. This is meant to put the majority of homes in compliance with zoning, as R-5 requires a minimum lot width of 75 feet and lot area of 7,500 feet. Most homes in that section have smaller lots.
Not being compliant to current zoning puts hurdles in front of residents that want to make building changes to their homes, Post said. The county is trying to prevent that.
“That’s all there is," Post said. "There is no hidden agenda. I’ve looked for it. I don’t see any.”
Plans for the Highbridge Park boat ramp are 60% complete, Post also said. The $45,000 project should be completed by September, and will have floating docks.
What's not coming soon
Residents in the north peninsula may have to wait up to two more decades to switch from septic tanks to sewer — and whether that sewer system will belong to the county, the city of Ormond Beach or a private entity is unknown.
Post said septic to sewer conversions are a costly fix, likely about $13,000 per household, and that there would need to be collaboration at the federal, state and county level. Since the county is dealing with other water and infrastructure needs, Post said a septic to sewer conversion is not going to happen anytime soon.
It'll happen eventually, she added.
“I’m going to imagine that in 20 years, that will absolutely be the conversation," Post said.
Ormond Beach City Commissioner Dwight Selby had been pushing for the city of Ormond Beach to begin plans for converting the first 700 homes from Plaza Drive to Longwood Drive to city sewer, but he lacked support from the majority of the City Commission. At the April 16 commission meeting, Commissioners Troy Kent, Rob Littleton and Mayor Bill Partington advocated for taking care of the city's 560 septic tanks first.
One resident also asked at the town hall meeting about what Ormond-by-the-Sea could gain from annexing into the city of Ormond Beach. Post said the conversation is currently not on the table. This concurs with what Partington said at the April 16 commission meeting. He said the city could look into annexing the north peninsula (a move that would lower taxes for the north peninsula by 9%, according to Selby) after the county spends millions to "cure the horrible neglect that they have perpetrated on the Ormond-by-the-Sea area."
Sidewalks on John Anderson are also not on the table at this moment, Post said. With properties so close to the two-lane road, adding a sidewalk without encroaching would prove difficult.
Speeding and crime
Post said she's had residents complain about speeding along John Anderson Drive, which has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour for the majority of the Ormond-by-the-Sea stretch. Some people have asked for stop signs, like the ones placed in the John Anderson portion in the city of Ormond Beach.
However, that is easier said than done. Post said you can't just place a stop sign.
“There are a number of hoops that you have to go through for pretty much everything that you try to get done in government," Post said.
She said what she's learned is that when you put a stop sign up, people slow down before they reach it, but speed up after they pass them. As a result, the houses beyond the stop signs get the "speeders."
Volusia County Lt. Bryan Barnard said the sheriff's office is monitoring John Anderson frequently. Last year, deputies issued 128 citations for speeding.
“It is a continuing effort that we’re working on all the time," Barnard said.
Other traffic issues that have been raised include parking on State Road A1A, he said. In the last two weeks, deputies have issued 21 citations and warnings.
In regards to theft, he said people need to lock their car doors, as the majority of thefts are a result of unlocked cars. Barnard said over 100 firearms were stolen from unlocked cars throughout Volusia County last year.