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Port Orange Observer Monday, Jun. 26, 2017 5 years ago

How to preserve Spruce Creek? Environmentalist urges City Council to halt nearby development

For the second year in a row, Derek LaMontagne is asking for a Spruce Creek resolution.
by: Nichole Osinski Community Editor

Derek LaMontagne, conservation chair for the Sierra Club’s Volusia-Flagler Group, urged the Port Orange City Council on Tuesday, June 20, to put in place a resolution stopping further development in the Spruce Creek area until further study is completed to ensure the area is environmentally protected.

However, city staff noted that more than one municipality regulates the watershed, not just the city of Port Orange. Furthermore, development rights have already been granted and cannot be revoked by means of a resolution; an ordinance would be required.

LaMontagne proposed a Basin Management Action Plan directed at stopping pollution and water contamination. He pointed out that the area of the basin in Port Orange currently has not comprehensive approach to protecting the creek. He also presented a Total Maximum Daily Load report from the Florida Department of Environment Protection showing that the creek was contaminated with fecal coliform, dissolved O2 and other nutrients.

LaMontagne said the report focused on the basin in New Smyrna Beach as well, but primarily in Port Orange. “It’s our concern and it should be ours to deal with,” he said.

Councilman Bob Ford agreed the city should examine the issue. “But ... most of the future land use things that can be done are going to be in the province of the county, on county property, not within the city, because legally we’ve already been tied in,” he said.

LaMontagne represented a group of people that are petitioning authorities to stop construction of South Williamson Boulevard. The petition also argues that allocated funding should be returned to the taxpayers.

The same group also is advocating to create the Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve, an area for recreational and aesthetic purposes.

LaMontagne brought up a similar proposal in May 2016. This time around, Mayor Don Burnette said that although he doesn’t mind having a discussion about conservation, the city will have to also look at additional factors, such as getting people off septic systems.

“There are things we've done well, there are some things that we haven’t,” Burnette said. “And I hope that we learn from those.”

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