News / Events

Dates set for Farmton hearing

BY DINAH VOYLES PULVER, ENVIRONMENT WRITER

August 10, 2010

A private landowner's quest to secure development rights for its 59,000 acres in Volusia and Brevard counties moves from the government planning realm to a courtroom this week.

Miami Corp., which has owned most of the land since the 1920s, won approval from both counties earlier this year for its Farmton Local Plan, which would change comprehensive land-use plans in both counties. In total, the plan would allow 25,000 homes, while creating a permanent wildlife corridor connecting with publicly owned conservation lands.

After the proposed changes were forwarded to the state, planners at the Florida Department of Community Affairs found both counties "not in compliance" with their long-term comprehensive plans. In both cases, mediation attempts failed.

That triggered hearings with the state's Division of Administrative Hearings.

The first hearing -- on the Brevard case -- goes to court Wednesday. The hearing, before a state administrative-law judge, is expected to take more than two weeks.

The Volusia case is scheduled for hearing Sept. 14-17, 21-24, 28 and 29 at the Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand.

In Volusia, the county agreed to land-use changes that would allow 23,100 residential units and 4.7 million square feet of nonresidential development on 15,081 acres, while setting aside 31,876 acres in conservation. Other than a 2,200-home development west of Edgewater, no other construction would be allowed in Volusia before 2025.

The department concluded the amendment would result in a substantial increase in residential and nonresidential uses that would be exacerbated by a sprawling, fragmented development pattern and roads within sensitive natural areas. It cited concerns about water, schools and the environment.

Similar concerns were cited by the department in the Brevard case.

The company and its supporters argue the department isn't willing to look at a larger, long-term picture that would permanently conserve 80 percent of the company's land for a regional wildlife corridor and cluster development into conservation-oriented, sustainable communities.

Several parties intervened in the cases. The company is a party in both cases. Also intervening in Volusia are Barbara Herrin and the Edgewater Citizens Alliance for Responsible Government Inc. and the Volusia Growth Management Commission.

The commission got involved to protect the special conditions it secured from the company before approving the proposal last spring.

"A lot of times, as a result of those hearings, the amendments are modified," Paul Chipok, an attorney for the growth commission said Friday. "We wanted to make sure the conditions of approval are still going to be honored in any subsequent modifications."

The department asked for the judge to issue a recommended order that finds the amendment "not in compliance" and recommend actions that would bring the proposed amendments "into compliance."

The company and the counties filed a motion this week asking for the cases to be combined and tried together this fall. Siding with the Department of Community Affairsand the Edgewater citizens group, who objected, the hearings division declined to combine the cases.

The Brevard hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday,in Courtroom E-3 at the Moore Justice Center, 2825 Judge Fran JamiesonWay, Viera.

 


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