5 letters: First salvo for Alice

Also in letters: Bridger's comments about overdevelopment are hypocritical.


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  • | 5:00 a.m. August 18, 2022
  • Ormond Beach Observer
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First salvo for Alice

Dear Editor:

Thank you and the Observer for publishing my letter, “Alice needs a champion.” In that letter, I pledged to champion Alice Strickland’s expressed, and our citizens’ long-standing, mandate for preservation of our ecological and historically important areas from overdevelopment. So, here’s the first salvo for Alice.

Tellis Partners of Chamblis, Georgia, has proposed Tymber Creek Apartments, a three-story, 300-unit project on 19.62 acres on West Granada Boulevard. Thirty citizens attending a June 8 neighborhood meeting expressed concerns about location, density and potential traffic impacts on the Tymber Creek-S.R. 40 intersection and nearby residential areas.

Access to the apartments will be from Granada Boulevard on a driveway shared with Walgreens. Exiting will be right-only on Granada Boulevard.

Existing zoning allows the developer to build 164 units, 10 per acre, without a zoning change. Mark Watts, a Cobb Cole attorney representing the developer, said the project can ask for double the density through a process that allows more units in exchange for the applicant making changes in response to concerns.

The plan for over 300 units shows 10 separate buildings, a clubhouse and two large retention ponds in addition to the existing pond north of Walgreens. 

With the area west of I-95 and north of West Granada Boulevard already entirely developed for single-family homes, the proposed apartment complex is not compatible with existing subdivisions. The developer’s “property rights” clearly conflict with the rights of property owners in Moss Point, IL Villaggio, and Indian Springs — that’s why Ormond Beach needs a “Property Owner’s Bill of Rights.” 

Unfortunately, the current land development code allows unlimited exemptions from long-established density limits as long as the developer can offer changes that create a handful of public benefits not required in the original design.

Planned Business Developments, PBDs, provide the same exemptions for large commercial projects, leaving our city with overdevelopment, exacerbating traffic and quality of life issues while reducing greenspace.

Ormond Beach once enjoyed tight land code regulations that controlled orderly growth, but our city government weakened our rules to the point of nullifying their intent. It’s time for a change.

In the near future, the Tymber Creek Apartments will be coming up for public hearings before the Planning Board and the City Commission. Hopefully, citizen concerns from Moss Point, IL Villaggio, and Indian Springs will be voiced and heard — Alice will be listening.

Rob Bridger

Ormond Beach 

Lori Tolland campaign: soft promises, but no solutions 

Dear Editor: 

Expensive glossy mailers from my Zone 1 City Commission opponent Lori Tolland keep turning up in my mailbox. A recent mailer shows a pair of hands stretching a $1 bill, with Lori’s photo and words promising low tax rates and careful spending.

These claims are made by a candidate who has amassed $57,835 in campaign contributions, the highest total of all seven active commission candidates.

Her campaign has already blown through $41,450. Why does careful spender Lori Tolland need all that money to win?

Our tax rates are low because Ormond Beach has $4.5 billion in property value, up 11% from last year. The tax rate is important to wealthy property owners, but has little meaning for lower-income homeowners struggling to pay enormous utility bills that have gone up 15 times in the last 20 years, with more increases coming.

At the CFOB forum last month, Lori called the airport runway extension a done deal, a “moot point.” She had no position on the loss of the historical Union Church or the commission decisions that purchased the church, allowed it to rot, then razed it for a parking lot.

The latest mailer touts her love for the environment, claiming to save the loop from overdevelopment. Yet Lori’s Planning Board decisions voted to recommend the clearcutting of hundreds of acres, approved the development Granada Pointe, clear-cutting of 2061 trees for the Wawa gas station, allowed overdevelopment that removed historic live oaks on Sterthaus Avenue, and vacated historic district protections to approve high-density townhouses on New Britain Avenue.

In comparison to Lori’s vague fiscal promises, here are my ideas to save money: 

Stop the airport runway extension and the capital spending at an Ormond Beach airport that is now a million dollars in debt. Concede the property tax bill for the River Bend golf course and stop paying outside legal fees ($340,000 so far) to fight the bill in court.

Vacate the last year of a five-year, $440,000 contract with Ghyabi Consulting, a transportation consultant for Daytona and Ormond Beach who donates to politicians who rubber stamp her contract renewals. Do not provide Ormond Beach water and sewer services to Avalon Park and do not build a second sewer plant to provide those services. Sunset the downtown CRA (set to expire in 2036) that has poured millions into the pockets of five business owners. Use the savings to give our police, first responders and code enforcement a salary and pension that is above average for area municipalities. Partner with a hospital to establish an emergency room/urgent care center on the beachside to replace the hospital that closed five years ago.

Compare my common sense, practical action plan with the vague promises made by my opponent who will deliver more of the same, business as usual.

Tim Grigsby

Ormond Beach 

Editor's note: Grigsby is a candidate for the Zone 1 Ormond Beach City Commission seat. Tolland submitted the following comment in response to Grigsby’s letter:

It’s unfortunate that Mr. Grigsby would choose to go so negative when I have made it a point to campaign as a positive voice for Ormond’s future.

I’m blessed to have a plethora of family friends and work or service group colleagues that have donated to my campaign. But it’s also worth noting that I have abstained from taking money from developers.

Unlike Mr. Grigsby, this is my first time running and campaigning is expensive.

As to the issues, I have had hundreds of positive discussions with residents as I have walked neighborhoods in this campaign and am always happy to do so.

My heart is with what is best for our city, and that means balancing between the rights of property owners with what is best for the community.

I strive to maintain that balance and show favoritism to no one. I look forward to continuing to dialogue with all who care for our city and refuse to resort to negative attacks in my campaign.

Bridger's comments about overdevelopment are hypocritical

The latest rant by perpetual Mayoral candidate Rob Bridger in the Observer this month is disturbing, yet unsurprising. As is customary, Mr. Bridger and his narrow-minded supporters fill this section of the paper each week with their venom toward our city and its leaders, and often with half-baked information and mischaracterizations. 

This particular abject lesson in ignorance included revisionist history on Ormond Beach and some Chicken Little concern of what the next 100 years might bring, using the same trite, fear-fueled argument that we are “overdeveloped.”

Like most Ormonders, Mr. Bridger moved here from somewhere else, as did I. The difference is he moved here as an adult, and I moved here in kindergarten. He had a choice on where to reside and chose to contribute to the “overdevelopment” by relocating here. 

Did someone complain about growth when his home was built or his moving van arrived? Most likely, which is why his grievances on this topic are so inconceivable. Imagine if Christopher Columbus sailed into town in 1492 and told everyone in Europe, “I found America, but you can’t join me, because only then will we become overdeveloped!” 

Anyone who thought they could move here from some faraway place and expect the door to lock behind them was sadly mistaken. People like Mr. Bridger should be exposed for what they are: hypocrites.
 
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the decade with the highest population growth in our city was the 1980’s, coincidentally the time when Mr. Bridger says he got here. Residency increased by 8,285 people back then. Every other decade in history, Ormond has grown by less than 7,000 people, including the most recent one, the 2010’s, which saw an increase of just 4,943. If that’s overdevelopment to you, I’ve got a “Bridger” to sell you!
 
Some of us actually like calling Ormond “home” and we can also do basic math to see that his arguments are, as usual, riddled with mistakes. Our city hasn’t grown because it’s as terrible as the anti-everything crowd spokesman Bridger would have you believe.
 
Mr. Bridger has run for mayor three times now. I get it: he really, really, really wants the job. But voters should view him skeptically. Anyone who will say anything to get your vote and hopes you won’t notice their sheer hypocrisy is not someone you want as the elected leader of your hometown.

Mike Scudiero

Ormond Beach

Editor’s note: Scudiero is a member of the Ormond Beach Planning Board and works on incumbent Mayor Bill Partington’s reelection campaign. Bridger submitted the following response:

Dear Editor:

My message is clear and concise.

My message is resonating with every voter I’ve spoken with during the primary election’s early voting this week at the Ormond Beach library.

My message is that: Ormond Beach is being overdeveloped ...  overdeveloped to the extent that our environment, our small-city quality of life, and ultimately our water supply is being threatened.

In 1989, I made an adult decision to become a Ormond Beach resident and homeowner who loves this city ... enough to commute I-4 to work in Orlando for many years.

I will support the development of world class neighborhoods like The Trails, Tomoka Oaks, Ormond Lakes, Tymber Creek, and Breakaway Trails. Until 2002, good development happened on a level playing field under rules protecting both the environment and adjacent property owners’ rights.

I am against overdevelopment.  I am against the densities proposed for the Tymber Creek apartments and Tomoka Oaks’ interior. I am against Ormond Beach supplying water and sewer services to Avalon Park overdevelopment in Daytona Beach. And against the city contracting a second sewer plant largely to service Avalon in Daytona.

Over the last 20 years, our city governance has lost its way with weakened wetland and development rules, and with waivers and rules exceptions for planned business developments. My message to residents, business owners, developers, grass roots environmentalists — we were once all on the same page. We can be again.  Every last one of us wants a better Ormond Beach.

My message is that after 19 years, it’s time for a change, time for new leadership, time for government transparency and accountability.

My name is Rob Bridger, and I’m running for Mayor to end polarization and unify a great city.

New meeting group features forward-thinking ideas 

Citizens, developers, environmentalists, economists, businesses, educators...we want you and your ideas. Let’s stop fighting! WE, you and I, are not the enemy! Our energy can be channeled together to create something we can all deeply appreciate.

In general, the human race has not evolved beyond our animal nature, which is good, in that it provides survival instincts. Beyond that, our survival instincts can be channeled into creative solutions, and more. We have proven that the human brain can do this. Landing on the moon and making friendly alliances all over the world are just a few of our many accomplishments.
 
Don’t be left behind quarreling with one another, spatting, acting like wild animals with little instinct for preservation. There is a new way to do things, and many businesses, therapists, and scientists already use this. It used to be called negotiation, and each gets a little of what they want.

It is the power of synergy, in which everyone walks away thrilled with what we have come up with together, across party lines and divisions. One does not come to the table with half-baked solutions, because the ideas emerge out of the dialogue — the synergy that occurs when minds meet in celebration of who we are and what we can do together to solve the problems that we have unintentionally created. Then we see the proof that when we engage with one another, through the actual "interaction itself," we can come up with innovative solutions.

LET's CREATE IT,  put together by Bill Denny and Linda Williams, meets periodically, currently every two weeks, to bring together forward-thinking ideas from all sides of the spectrum. The topic is, "How do we all together want to grow in our communities in Volusia County and the surrounding areas?" The meeting is moderated for the purpose of inclusion, respectful dialogue and synergistic outcomes.

Send an email to [email protected] for an invite to our next meeting, currently meeting on Zoom.

Linda Williams

Ormond Beach

If you run for public office...

Dear Editor:

Every two years around election time, we have an onslaught of editorials, social media posts and campaign flyers from incumbents and those challenging for the commission and mayor's race.

It is the process, and we absorb or ignore the pitch from candidates as we choose, however, a candidate should not promote misinformation, twist the truth, be ignorant of facts or simply just lie in order to gaslight and attract attention to their campaign.

If they want to be taken seriously to be the decision-makers for our community, I believe the first qualification is that they are informed and truthful; isn't that a reasonable starting point for any candidate?

In response to Joseph Valerio's recent editorial "Development Games," relative to the Regal multi-family project, a "traffic study" is not required by the county and the city for this type of redevelopment, which will generate 47% less traffic then the previous use.

We provided a traffic analysis of the past use, the proposed multi-family use and also an alternate use of large box retail, which, by the way, retail would generate triple the multi-family use traffic.

I encourage Mr. Valerio and any other candidate to research the data submitted, speak with the planning staff or meet with the applicant to learn the process and regulations before attempting to insinuate that the City Commission ignored a requirement for a traffic study.  

I have been developing in our community for 37 years, and I continue to invite any resident, and that includes those running for office, to meet with me if they have questions regarding our projects.

We may not agree on all aspects of the development, and in some cases we may not agree at all, but I welcome the dialogue so we can at least establish the facts.

I understand it is difficult for a candidate to comprehend the entire development process and regulations.  I do not fault Mr. Valerio for his lack of experience, but that should not give him a free pass on promoting his campaign at the expense of others.

I am a 52-year resident, and I believe that Ormond Beach is the best community to call home.

Paul F. Holub Jr. 

Ormond Beach

 

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