News / Events
Farmton plan gets County Council approval
BY DINAH VOYLES PULVER, ENVIRONMENT WRITER
March 18, 2011
DELAND -- The Volusia County Council voted 6-to-1 Thursday to approve an agreement that settles its differences with the state's chief planning agency over the vast Farmton property owned by Miami Corp. in southern Volusia.
The company has wrangled with state and local officials over long-term plans for its land -- 47,000 acres in Volusia and 12,000 acres in Brevard County -- for nearly two years.
The plan, now final in Brevard and nearing the final stages in Volusia, will allow eventual construction of 23,000 homes and more than 4 million square feet of commercial space. It also will put about 45,000 acres of land into permanent conservation.
The agreement, reached among the company, the county and the state Department of Community Affairs, put an additional 1,573 acres into conservation; widened planned wildlife corridors; and added requirements that the eventual developers must plan for wildlife crossings.
The department contested the plan in both counties, triggering hearings last year in both counties. However, after the new administration took over in Tallahassee, the department approached Brevard and Volusia and offered to negotiate settlements.
County Councilman Andy Kelly voted against the settlement. While Kelly said he applauded the conservation of so much land, he said the number of houses planned left him unable to support the agreement. Kelly said he thought the DCA "turned its back on the taxpayers."
"We're allowing a city in the middle of a rural area," he said.
He contends the Farmton plan isn't consistent with state statutes and said the company was given the right to build many more times the number of houses than what would have been allowed under the county's existing rules.
Councilwoman Pat Northey asked for and received assurance that the previously agreed-to concessions for conservation remained in the plan. She also asked about the stewardship organization that will be created to oversee the conservation land. The organization will be operated jointly with both counties, the St. Johns River Water Management District and Audubon of Florida.
Northey said it would be beneficial to have the same group working with both counties.
Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen said the long-term plan for the Farmton property, with its set-asides for conservation, is "one of the most important projects" he has ever been involved with.
"This is one of the best things I've seen a government do," Dinneen said. "It's an amazing amount of land being put into conservation forever."
The agreement will be discussed next week at Volusia's Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission meeting -- Tuesday at 8 a.m. in council chambers in DeLand -- and at the Volusia Growth Management Commission meeting -- Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Daytona Beach City Commission chambers.