Finding a balance between what developers want and what citizens believe is necessary is a key to smart growth.
Clay Ervin, Volusia County Director of Growth and Resource Management, said, “It comes down to balance” as he educated the public at a Civil Discourse town hall on the subject Monday, Aug. 26 at the Ormond Beach Regional Library.
“Those who are in a place want to keep that place nice. That’s where they moved to, that’s where their families are from,” Mr. Ervin said. “There are people that want to come to that place because it’s nice. How do you keep it nice?
“Basically, smart growth is a balance of your economic world, your social world, and your natural world,” he said. “So therefore, you have protection of natural resources with a method that sustains them for now and in the future, you have economic growth so therefore there is income, there is a potential for development. Folks can be able to make the money that they need to survive. And then you have social which is assuring that everyone has accessibility (access to parks, education, health, etc.).”
He added, (city and county governments) can’t say no to every development that wants to come in. However, the state still has a say in what can and should be done.”
A lot of growth planning is based the American Planning Association's Smart Codes, which provide an overview of the structure of land development regulations and are a guide to the development of model smart growth ordinances, including models that may be adapted by local governments.
“Regulatorily we have a difficulty in just maintaining a constant set of rules,” Mr. Ervin said. “When we are putting together our comprehensive plans what you’ll see is there are a mandatory nine elements and those all talk about balance. Balance is the goal.”
Making sure every citizen has access to housing is one of the priorities to the APA’s model of smart growth, Mr. Ervin said. “It’s encouraging cities and counties to have a diversified way of providing housing. You’ll see conservation of lands, protection of resources. All of those are in there. We implement those in our land development regulations including zoning.”
Mr. Ervin also addressed that exceptions are often used and can be frustrating to the public. Each piece of property is different and each rule that applies to it can be different. He acknowledged the number one goal of developers is to make money, but at the same time having viable businesses are also critical to community success.
Those in attendance had plenty to say with increased growth in Ormond Beach a hot topic lately.
Barry duMoulin, former Ormond Beach City Commission candidate, stated, “At what point do you realize developers have control and citizens don’t have control. Stop the growth at this point, but do the redevelopment.”
Mr. Ervin stated uses allowed in commercial zoning districts can be transferred into what they can be developed for. Once qualifications are met, unless a blatant issue arises, (such as neighborhood compatibility). approval on projects will most likely happen.
Linda Williams is the moderator for the newly formed Civil Discourse group in Ormond Beach that meets to discuss local, civic topics and issues. The group defines civil discourse as “the respectful exchange of ideas, information, values, positions and beliefs.”
Ms. Williams stated in a letter inviting people to the meeting, “I want our community to come together from every angle and point of view to explore what smart growth means to us.”
Future Civil Discourse meetings and Town Halls with speakers are planned. The group meets at the library every second and fourth Monday.