News / Events

Volusia approves perks to preserve natural lands

By Rachael Jackson, Staff Writer

December 5, 2008

As part of an effort to keep the 330,000-acre core of Volusia County wild and undeveloped, the County Council on Thursday approved planning changes that give developers major incentives for preserving open spaces.

About five years ago, the county established a goal of preserving that area, which has remained mostly wetlands and forests, even as development from Orlando encroaches from the southwest and development from the beaches moves in from the east.

The regulations approved Thursday don't change property owners' rights to develop, but do offer bonuses for developers who preserve at least 60 percent of the land and limit developments to 600 units.

Thursday's changes are a first step. Next year, the county plans to create more specific regulations that will further favor development that clusters homes and meets green standards. The regulations are expected to steer developers away from "ranchettes," or single-family homes on large lots.

"It was a major accomplishment," County Chairman Frank Bruno said after the unanimous vote, adding that the county has taken a stand against the "threat of development from Deltona to the east side of the county."

Under the new rules, once land is designated for conservation, the developer would lose rights to develop it in the future. The council also has set a goal of adopting specific standards for protecting wetlands, the watershed and the aquifer by 2010.

More than a third of the land in the county's conservation corridor is government-owned, and officials hope much more of the land is protected through these new rules.

Few people spoke against Thursday's changes, but a representative for one landowner said it is hard to plan for rules that aren't yet specific.

Glenn Storch, an attorney for the company that owns about 60,000 acres in Volusia and Brevard counties -- and about 11,000 acres in Volusia's conservation corridor -- said his clients are just fine with the change. Though they have no immediate plans to develop their property, they are already planning on conserving that land, he said.

 


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