News / Events

Volusia council OK's Miami Corp. development

BY DINAH VOYLES PULVER

February 19, 2010

DELAND -- A plan to begin building a new city in southern Volusia County in 15 years won approval Thursday from the County Council.

After a four-hour discussion, the council voted 5 to 2 to change the county's long-term comprehensive plan. That will give the Miami Corp. rights to build more than 20,000 homes between Edgewater and Osteen, in exchange for permanently conserving nearly 35,000 acres. The Chicago-based family land trust owns 59,000 acres straddling the Volusia/Brevard county line.

Councilmen Carl Persis and Andy Kelly voted against the plan. Both said they found certain elements of the plan laudable, but not enough to vote yes.

"No matter how you cut it, it's not the place to build that many homes," Persis said. "It's not the time to even be thinking about it."

The next step will be a hearing on March 24 before the Volusia Growth Management Commission.

The company and the county also will likely be negotiating with the state's chief planning agency, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, for months to come. The agency has declared the plan not in compliance in Brevard County, after the County Commission there unanimously approved the plan.

Because the agency also recommended Volusia County reject the plan, it's widely expected that Volusia will be considered not in compliance. That generally kicks off long-term negotiations or a hearing process before a judge with the state's Division of Administrative Hearings.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, in response to concerns from several council members and others, county staff and the company made many changes to the plan, including increasing the amount of land devoted to conservation.

The agreement requires the company or developers to pay for all new roads and road improvements in and around the development. Other than 2,200 homes near Edgewater, the company won't be able to begin building before 2025 and not without meeting at least a half-dozen conditions.

Before any homes are built, county officials said the company or potential developers must provide one job for each proposed home, meet a needs assessment that proves the homes are needed and obtain approvals from the Volusia school district and the regional planning agency. The company will be required to rebuild Maytown Osteen road from Interstate 95 at Oak Hill to State Road 415 in Osteen.

The plan requires at least 9,300 acres to be specifically managed and preserved as Florida black bear habitat.

During Thursday's meeting, 33 speakers commented on the company's plan, with 22 opposed and 11 in support.

Opponents voiced concerns about sprawl, population growth, the county's limited supply of water and the lack of need for any more homes given the number of home sites already on the books countywide.

"This is a new city we don't need in a place where it doesn't belong," Norman Lane said.

Supporters said the plan meets the county's smart-growth goals and represents the kind of long-term planning Florida should have done long ago.

Councilwoman Joie Alexander said the plan gives the county a rare opportunity to plan for the future.

"It might not ever develop unless the certain criteria are met," Alexander said. "I do think we are operating in the best interest of the citizens of the county."

Councilwoman Pat Northey said she voted yes because the plan creates a "true conservation corridor" through the county.

dinah.pulver@news-jrnl.com

 


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