5 letters: On city leadership, PBDs, FDOT's plans for Granada and more

What are your neighbors talking about this week?

  • Ormond Beach Observer
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Thank you, city leaders

Dear Editor:

As a lifelong resident of Volusia County and an Ormond Beach resident for the past 22 years, I am writing to thank our city leaders. I appreciate their foresight and ongoing commitment to the numerous recreation and leisure service opportunities that characterize our city. Their belief in the importance of local sport and recreational opportunities is one of the many enjoyable aspects that define our town.

Over the past 30 years, our family has enjoyed countless hours of quality family time at the Magic Forest Playground, Riverbend Nature Park, the Ormond Beach Sports Complex, the Casements, Rockefeller Gardens, Nova Community Center and Central Park’s Community Garden. These venues provided entertainment, promoted a safe, healthy lifestyle and helped enhance our children’s character and sense of community. Throughout the years, multiple upgrades and additions have been and continue to be budgeted to improve our thriving youth sports programs. Visitors bringing their families to our city for events at these various facilities are exposed to how amazing our community is and some have even moved here as a result.

I am proud of the city’s effort to strengthen our quality of life. The positive experiences our children enjoyed growing up here is one of the reasons they both still call Ormond Beach home. Next year, we look forward to introducing our first grandchild to all the wonderful attributes this town has to offer. It is so encouraging to know that multiple generations of families can enjoy the same recreation and leisure services that make us stand out as a community. Thank you city leaders for prioritizing improvements that separate us from surrounding cities and make Ormond Beach a charming, wonderful place to call home.

Leslie Bush

Ormond Beach

I will be your voice

Dear Editor:

To the residents of Zone 1 — If I am given the privilege to serve on the Ormond Beach City Commission representing you, I pledge to be your voice, not mine, in all city decisions. As far as I am concerned, when seated with the other commissioners, it is actually you, the 11,000 residents of Zone 1, sitting there. I won’t forget who I represent. Your needs will always be at the forefront of my decisions.

Being available via written communication and in-person to hear your concerns is a high priority to me. My hope is that you will regain trust in city government.

Joseph Valerio

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: Valerio is a candidate in the Ormond Beach City Commission Zone 1 race.

Developer not providing the real truth

Dear Editor:

The developer for the 310 apartments to replace the Regal Theater never provided an "actual" traffic counter analysis for this site, which as he stated was not required. However, what was used was taken from "The Institute of "Transportation Engineers Book."

Trip generation for uses is based upon the "Institute of Transportation Engineers" (ITE), available at https://www.ite.org/. ITE publishes trip generation rates for each category of uses. The generation rates are formulated through studies and research.

So, if we are to actually believe the developer, the theater when operating produced 3,912 trips per day. Does anyone believe that? Remember, when no actual onsite traffic count is taken then a book provides the rates of trips based on "studies" and "research" not what is actually here. I don't believe this is compatible with the existing traffic when the theater was open and of course since it closed in 2020. But with the 310 apartments to be built based on studies and research (not here) traffic will be reduced according to the developer by 47%. Really?

Ron Hoopper

Ormond Beach

Questions, Proposed FDOT Granada Boulevard Redesign

Dear Editor:

On Aug. 9 at the Casements, a large turnout examined Florida Department of Transportation plans for Granada Boulevard "improvements."

The $1.36 million design mapped a $5.38 million reconstruction from A1A to U.S.1. The FDOT stated goal: Slow down traffic with additional medians, lanes narrowed to ten feet, and four raised pedestrian crosswalks.

Did the city request the Granada Boulevard project or did FDOT initiate it? Did they alert our City Commission or our transportation consultant before drafting these major modifications on our city's only crosstown artery? Did citizens have input? Were not slower speeds already achieved when a previous City Commission narrowed Granada traffic lanes and added medians with Medjool palm trees?

If past slowdown strategies were intended to increase Granada foot traffic, why are pedestrians still scarce? The FDOT design raises the existing pedestrian crossing and constructs three new raised crossings. Will these four raised pedestrian crossings function as permanent speed bumps? Will the roadway be safer with 12-20 foot medians that squeeze narrow traffic lanes closer to sidewalks? 

Bike lanes abruptly disappear at each end of the Granada Bridge. Why does the FDOT design now show bicycles sharing narrow right side traffic lanes with cars, Votran buses, school buses, trucks, grocery tractor-trailers, trash trucks, U.S. mail semis, heavy construction carriers, and yard maintenance crews pulling wide trailers?

Does FDOT still recognize Granada Boulevard as the eastern terminus of State Road 40, and a perennial entryway for out-of-town vehicles heading to the A1A corridor? Why is FDOT eliminating one of the two existing southbound stacking lanes at the A1A traffic light? Why are they contemplating elimination of the A1A left-hand turn to the Granada beach approach?

Isn't Granada Boulevard already gridlocked at peak hours by four traffic lights and a downtown pedestrian crossing between A1A and U.S.1? With traffic further slowed by the railroad, the Orchard Street light, and the new Wawa traffic signal? Why intentionally narrow a hurricane evacuation route? Why lengthen emergency response times when the beachside no longer has an emergency room? When the nearest hospitals are miles from downtown?

Will not the FDOT design compress traffic volume and create longer lines of idling cars wasting gasoline and emitting toxic exhaust? Given the large population of Ormond Beach senior citizens, shouldn't we be widening traffic lanes for elderly drivers?

Why is FDOT spending millions to bottleneck our city's traffic flow?

Jeff Boyle

Ormond Beach

PBD’s create overdevelopment

Dear Editor:

PBD’s are Planned Business Developments that rezone districts for “comprehensively planned business centers on arterial roadways.” The city allows flexible applications of the land development code for permitted and special land uses. In return, developers are encouraged to exceed land code requirements to provide public benefits the city would not otherwise receive.

In theory, land rule exemptions and waivers are granted by the city in negotiations with the developer. In actual practice, the developer makes written application to the planning department for a PBD rezoning, providing at least two public benefits from a list of sixteen. The application then goes on to the Planning Board and the City Commission for public hearings.

In recent years, these tradeoffs have nullified key land use protections to gain minimal public benefits. Building setbacks can be reduced up to 20%, buffer areas can be reduced to a minimum of 6 feet, building heights may exceed maximums by 15 feet, distances between buildings may be reduced to fire code minimums, and the city commission can approve deviations in height, size, and location of business signs.

Impacted adjacent property owners have been largely unsuccessful in opposing these waivers and exemptions. Overdeveloped land parcels have caused major losses of tree canopies and greenspace. Normally, a commercial development must retain 15% of the natural vegetation on site. PBD’s allow clear-cutting while moving conservation areas off-site. The result has been extensive fill in wet low-lying areas and the creation of massive retention ponds, directly contradicting land code recommendations promoting low impact development.

The Wawa gas station complex at Granada Pointe is a classic example of PBD abuse. Three separate parcels were combined and clear-cut, and the extra public benefits included a developer-paid traffic light and realignment of the Tomoka Avenue intersection at Granada Boulevard. A 7-acre retention pond was credited as "flood protection."

More recently, Mark Watts, the attorney for the proposed Tymber Creek apartments said the code allowed only 164 units without a zoning change but the developer is asking for almost double what’s permitted through a process allowing more units if project changes respond to "concerns." What "concerns" could possibly be an equal tradeoff for doubling the permitted units?

PBD loopholes continue to disproportionately compromise our land codes to favor developers. This practice has diminished the aesthetic character of Ormond Beach, our environment, and our quality of life.

Mindy McLarnan

Ormond Beach


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