'Keep new developments in check': Q+A with Zone 3 City Commissioner Susan Persis

Susan Persis, who was first elected in 2018, shares her views on local issues.

City Commissioner Susan Persis said she would like to preserve green spaces in the city. Courtesy photo
City Commissioner Susan Persis said she would like to preserve green spaces in the city. Courtesy photo
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In Ormond Beach, City Commissioner Susan Persis said there's always something to do.

Having grown up in the area, the recreational activities offered by the city's Leisure Services department have both increased in quantity and quality, according to the commissioner. The events aren't far behind either. 

"The community events held in our city are the best," Persis said. "Our July 4th celebration, Home for the Holidays parade, Art in the Park, antique car show, and National Night Out are a few examples."

The Ormond Beach Observer invited Persis to participate in Q+A on local issues, to which Persis supplied her answers via email. From the development of the Tomoka Oaks golf course to why she voted to demolish the church at 56 N. Beach St., this is what she had to say.

Is there a project that you are hoping is included in the upcoming budget?

We will be discussing giving the police and fire departments dedicated funds for their vehicles. Our first responders should have updated transportation vehicles and top quality technology so they can perform their jobs safely and efficiently.

What is an issue you are keeping an eye on in your zone?

In addition to the  Tomoka Oaks Golf Course, there is a proposal to build 300 apartments on Tymber Creek Road behind Moss Point. There are already so many apartments being constructed close by, so I do not feel we need more. The traffic pattern on Tymber Creek Road is not conducive for entry and exit for the increase in vehicles. Also, I would like to save the green space and continue to preserve and protect wildlife.

We know that much of the growth will come from the west side of I-95, with Avalon Park being one of the projects. What are some ways the city can mitigate impacts from new developments?

While we cannot stop Avalon Park, we can make sure future developments have plenty of green spaces and densities are reduced. The closer the services — which people need and desire — are to the residents, the less traffic congestion there will be on our roadways. My goal is to keep new developments in check.

In 2019, you were able to get an educational straw ban ordinance passed. Is that still being enforced and do you have ideas for steps the city could take to be more eco-friendly?

We are still encouraging residents to eliminate and reduce the use of plastic straws. Many of our local restaurants are using high-end paper straws or straws which are biodegradable. Unfortunately, straws are not the only problem. We must increase our use of reusable bags in all stores and use environmentally friendly products in restaurant take out containers. In addition to expanding our water reuse program, the city should begin changing its vehicle fleet to hybrid/electric and provide public charging stations.

The Tomoka Oaks Homeowners Association recently retained a lawyer to represent them in the development of the golf course. What are your thoughts about that?

I do not feel the development of the golf course is the best option for the residents of Tomoka Oaks or our city. People who live on the golf course have spectacular views and purchased the lots for that very reason. Many of the  residents are extremely concerned about the proposed development, the traffic congestion and the roads in the neighborhood. Should development occur, the developers need to reduce the density, save green space and preserve and protect wildlife.

You were a yes vote to demolish the church. Why did you vote in favor of it?

The city purchased the property in May of 2018 for $729,000. At the time of the purchase, there were fewer than 25 people attending weekly services. A real estate appraisal report in 2019 indicated the land value at $730,000 with demolition and at $629,000 with church use.

The facility is in deplorable and dangerous condition. There are roof leaks in all three buildings, window breaks, rotten wood, and glazing issues. In addition, recent tests have confirmed the existence of mold, asbestos, lead paint, and rodents. 

The odd configuration makes it infeasible to repurpose the structure. Therefore,  the city should not spend hundreds of thousands of tax payers dollars to restore an abandoned and woefully neglected facility.

As soon as the asbestos and rodents are safely removed, this unhealthy building will be replaced by a temporary shell parking lot, which will aid surrounding businesses, until something which adds vitality, value and beauty to our city is built.

What is something you would like to accomplish in the next year?

Generally speaking, I want the city to have more opportunities for the public to have input on matters of great community interest. For example, I would like to get residents’ suggestions about ways to wisely use the funds the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan. My goal is for people to have opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas before the Commission votes. While it is impossible for everyone to agree on every issue all the time, we must continue to stay positive, work together and appreciate the wonderful quality of life we all love and enjoy in Ormond Beach.


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