The Volusia County Council has established new hours of operation for construction activities — ones that start before sunrise and conclude after sunset, seven days a week.
Construction will now be permitted to start daily at 6 a.m. and conclude by 9 p.m. in unincorporated areas of the county, regardless of weekends or holidays, following a 5-2 vote to amend the county code of ordinances on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The change was suggested by County Councilman Danny Robins at a council meeting in October. Robins said the council has been working toward eliminating "burdensome regulations" to encourage economic development in Volusia County.
"We claim to work for the people," Robins said. "But yet, we regulate how the people can work. ... I think by adopting this, it's going to send a clear message that we want to work in this county."
Prior to the change, construction work in unincorporated areas of the county was allowed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Cities have their own regulations on construction hours. In the city of Ormond Beach, construction is allowed between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.
County Council Chair Jeff Brower and Troy Kent voted against, as both believed the long construction work days would negatively impact the quality of life of nearby residents.
"We have this as a community standard to protect the quality of life — the same reason we have some zoning restrictions in neighborhoods," Brower said.
Kent questioned the reason for the change, saying that no residents had approached him and asked for a change of construction operating hours. He said he believed the issue came up due to construction of new phases of Halifax Plantation near Ormond Beach, where the developer had some issues with the work start time.
"I received some emails with some videos on them — time stamped — and I've got to tell you, I would not want to live next to that," Kent said. "Not for a month. Not for a day."
Robins argued that if the change was being proposed for a city or a specific neighborhood, then he would agree that the hours could negatively impact residents. But, the unincorporated areas of Volusia — such as Ormond-by-the-Sea — are mostly build-out.
Ormond Beach resident Carla Shook spoke at the meeting and said that she and her neighbor have filed hundreds of complaints regarding construction in Halifax Plantation.
"A construction site is directly behind my house and I have heard noise in the very early hours for 10 months straight," Shook said. "Imagine living near a site where you're woken up as early as 4:43 a.m. several days a week."
County Councilman Jake Johansson said that the county's restrictions on noise weren't being changed — and that was the root of citizen complaints regarding longer construction hours.
"Sixty decibels is 60 decibels and it can be a little bit bothersome, but that's what our ordinance says," Johansson said.