News / Events

Hearing on Farmton plan for Volusia concludes


September 16, 2011

DELAND -- A state administrative hearing on the future of the Farmton Local Plan in southern Volusia concluded on Thursday, but it will be months before the resolution of the case is known.

"I thought the hearing went very well considering all the complexities of the case," said David Maloney, a state administrative law judge who presided over the hearing.

At issue is whether the Farmton plan, approved by the Volusia County Council earlier this year, complies with the county's long-term comprehensive plan.

While state officials ruled the plan is in compliance, the Sierra Club of Florida and the Edgewater Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development challenged the decision.

Experts for the two groups testified the proposed development -- 23,000 homes and 4.1 million square feet of nonresidential space -- is too intense and unsuitable for the environmentally sensitive nature of the land owned by the Miami Corp. between Osteen and Oak Hill.

Starting Tuesday afternoon, witnesses for Volusia County and Miami Corp. began working to counter testimony offered on behalf of the environmental groups by Tom Pelham, former secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Witnesses on Wednesday included Charles Lee, advocacy director for Audubon of Florida.

On Thursday morning, Ken Metcalf, director of planning for Tallahassee-based Greenberg Traurig, said the Farmton plan "clearly discourages the proliferation of urban sprawl."

The Farmton plan is "the antithesis of urban sprawl," Metcalf said.

The attorneys have until Oct. 31 to submit their recommended orders to the judge.

A final decision isn't expected until after the first of the year.

The plan covers 59,000 acres in Volusia and Brevard counties. About 40,000 acres is supposed to be set aside in conservation. Volusia County recently appointed a task force to help prepare a management plan for the proposed conservation lands.

The portion of the plan that covers Brevard County has received final approval.

If the plan receives final approval in Volusia, the first development would take place on the north end of the property, near Edgewater and Interstate 95, but it could not start before 2016. Development along Maytown Osteen Road is not supposed to begin before 2025.