- December 14, 2022
On May 16, the City Commission approved the rezoning of 19 commercial acres and a development order for 270 “Tymber Creek Apartment” units behind Walgreens at the S.R. 40 intersection. Beyond the currently allowed 164 units, the Planned Business Development can qualify for density waivers in exchange for voluntary upgrades and community benefits.
Threat No. 1: Adjacent subdivisions were told the existing commercial zoning could allow a big box Target store.
Threat No. 2: The 164-unit plan, if imposed, would construct affordable housing with minimal buffers and setbacks.
Last year, the Planning Board recommended denial of the 270 unit application by a 5-0 vote. The January City Commission hearing was twice delayed until April 18, when elected officials signaled a vote to deny.
Four commissioners asked the developer to consider less density in an area where schools, roads and hospitals are already stressed.
Threat No. 3: Introduced by applicant attorney Mark Watts: SB 102, a new state law signed by the governor on March 29, to take effect on July 1. The “Live Local Act” will allow developers to bypass local land use rules in commercial and industrial zones if 40% of the units are set aside for affordable housing. The state can exercise preemptive power in eliminating local public hearings and assigning a city’s highest allowed density and building heights, potentially 525 units for Tymber Creek. Blindsided, the commission tabled the application until May 16.
Tallahassee lobbyist Jeff Sharkey testified that the new law, providing cash subsidies to developers, was a bold “experiment” aimed at addressing a statewide need for affordable housing. Residents of adjacent Indian Springs and Moss Point, promised larger buffers and setbacks, spoke in begrudging favor of the 270 unit proposal as “a lesser of two evils.”
Commissioner Susan Persis, who had voiced an unequivocal “no” on April 18 , reversed her vote, based on private meetings with the developer and residents of Indian Springs and Moss Point, even though no new adjustments were made to a proposal that caused her “a couple of sleepless nights.”
Other Zone 3 subdivisions and city residents were apparently a nonfactor.
Commissioner Travis Sargent, the lone “no” vote, was troubled by impactful density overloading hospitals, roads, and schools, and refused to yield to the threats or make a decision based on “an experiment.”
Our commissioners took an oath to support, defend, and protect the laws of our city.
Why abandon that oath under threat of a new law that will not take effect until July 1?
Editor's note: City Commissioner Travis Sargent voted in favor of the rezoning request for the project, but against the development order.
The surgeon general of our country, Dr. Vivek Murthy, caught my attention again very recently when he, in effect, proclaimed that more than half of us are lonely in this day and age, a time with its particular social, economic and political stresses. This loneliness and isolation impacts our physical and mental health in profound adverse ways.
Dr. Murthy goes on to say that one way to ease loneliness is to consider volunteering. I see this as a significant benefit, especially for senior members of our society, of which I am one.
My thinking at this latter stage in my life is an expansion of the dictionary definition of the word “volunteer.” Accordingly, I see several key advantages in this expansion. First, to become more active, which is so important in maintaining our health insofar as possible. As physical therapists say, we need to be as active as we can, even if It’s only by walking.
Secondly, the classic definition of enhancing the quality of our community lives by offering our time and talents. And, thirdly, by the opportunity to develop more friendships which can be crucial during times of need. I’ve seen how utterly grateful friends can be at these times here in Ormond Beach when friends help, since their family is not readily available to help, especially during emergencies.
These latter two advantages of helping our community and developing more friendships auger so well in becoming happier by “stepping out of our shells” and helping others. After all, is this not fundamental to our getting along with each other in a better way?
Wonderful opportunities for volunteering exist here in our Ormond community, including not only helping neighbors, but others who need support at hospitals, schools, senior support service facilities and food banks. Of course, volunteering with organizations that share your interests like garden clubs or historical societies can give one great satisfaction.
As Albert Schweitzer, philosopher and theologian, says, “Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”
Jerry A. Valcik
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