The Sept. 29 letter “Truth Be Told” claimed that a past City Commission “did not have the vision and wisdom to support the annexation and control the development” of thousands of acres of land west of I-95. This continuing urban myth is disproved by documented facts:
Twenty years ago, Consolidated-Tomoka Land Company proposed the annexation on the condition we abolish our city’s strict wetland protection rules. I and other commissioners voted against the annexation when it became clear the will of the people of Ormond Beach demanded we keep the wetland rules to preserve trees, greenspace and flood control. Aware that growth does not pay for itself, our citizens overwhelmingly rejected a massive expansion of our city.
The land would be ultimately sold by Consolidated-Tomoka to unknown developers. Once annexed, the Ormond Beach brand would drive up the price. So would eliminating our wetland rules and allowing a much higher development density. Daytona Beach annexed the Consolidated-Tomoka acres and broke a long-standing boundary agreement with Ormond Beach to do so. Twenty years and two resales later, the current owner of the proposed Avalon Park property will construct 10,000 homes, large water retention ponds and extensive commercial development.
Even if the city had annexed the land, Ormond Beach would now have little or no control over how Avalon Park is developed. We gave up our only effective protection against overdevelopment when the city abolished our model wetland rules in 2010. Then-Commissioner Bill Partington joined a 5-0 vote to adopt the more liberal St. Johns Water District rules, which allow urban wetlands to be destroyed if the developer will purchase mitigation acres for conservation in a distant, rural ecosystem.
As for Consolidated-Tomoka, in 2016, the land company paid a $187,500 fine to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency to resolve allegations that the company, over seven years, illegally dredged and filled 163 acres of wetlands west of I-95 and north of LPGA Boulevard. The EPA concluded Consolidated violated the federal Clean Water Act by altering and filling wetlands adjacent to tributaries of the Tomoka River. The wetland restoration cost was estimated at $1.7 to $1.9 million, and Consolidated agreed to the fine with no admission of wrongdoing.
The commission now plans to sell Ormond water and sewer services to Avalon Park. The deal will require Ormond Beach to construct a second sewer plant and will enable high-impact development on our doorstep by a city that reneged on our last agreement.
Twenty years ago, I kept an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the laws of my city in voting against annexing the Consolidated-Tomoka land. I would cast the same “no” vote today.
A Great Roar of Noise
Biketoberfest is a great show for some and a big storm for others. It is a breath of fresh air for some and a sound out of hell for others.
Exhaust fumes, high-end sound systems and the noise of roaring engines doesn't make an enjoyable weekend for most area residents.
Robert L. Shaw
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