Instead of a natural barrier, ICI Homes was allowed to build an eight-foot PVC fence. Fees and buffer requirements were also reduced.
For residents soon to call Woodhaven home, beige will be the new green for their barrier from I-95 traffic.
City Council voted unanimously to pass two ordinances on second reading that amend development requirements for the residential development off South Williamson Boulevard at the April 2 meeting. Council also unanimously passed a request to reduce fees for the Woodhaven master development plan.
The first ordinance amended the original mandate that requires developers to provide a natural barrier. ICI Homes requested to put up an eight-foot PVC fence instead of the green barrier because of the topography of the land. The land is low enough that trees planted along the interstate would not grow tall enough to provide an adequate barrier, ICI claimed. Additional plantings will be placed along the I-95 side to give residents more protection.
The fee reduction will reduce the original fee of $6,500, already paid by ICI Homes, to $924.31, because the time for processing and reviewing the amendment was less than a typical case.
Port Orange resident Robert Reinhagen thought allowing a fee reduction would set a dangerous precedent for future developers. He didn't agree with ICI's case that, because it was a simple review, the cost should be lower.
“I like to believe our city has put a lot of thought and effort into developing these standards," Reinhagen said. "If you waive the standards at this point, I think you are creating a really bad precedent that everybody’s going to think that they will get actual costs. I strongly recommend you take this off the consent agenda and not approve.”
Councilman Scott Stiltner had a different point of view.
“The city of Port Orange needs to remain flexible,” Stiltner said. “We need to understand partnerships and relationships. Sometimes you get folks come into a city that are looking for fee waiver or reductions that really don’t bring anything else to the table for this community."
ICI is different, according to Stiltner, since the company has donated over $100,000 to the community to help kids through various programs.
The second ordinance reduced the buffer along Williamson Boulevard and Pioneer Trail Road from 400 feet of conservation land to 200 feet, and, changed land identification from conservation to mix-use development. The purpose for the change in footage is to be visually symmetrical with the commercial development across the street in New Smyrna Beach.
Savannah Weaver, City Council candidate running for the District 1 seat, was against passing the fee reduction and changing the amount of land in the conservation area.
“I would like to know why we are waiving over $5,000 worth of fees when you as a council are asking Port Orange to support a half cent sales tax increase,” Weaver said. “You’re making it too easy to build here, especially when the amendment is to lessen the buffer from 400 feet to 200 feet because New Smyrna was allowing their developers to lessen the buffer. I am asking you to reconsider because this is habitat and you’re making it too easy to develop.”