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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2019 2 months ago

Tree clearing process begins at Riverwalk with renovation and expansion in mind

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The Halifax River Partners will be clearing trees and vegetation as a first step in revamping the Riverwalk District in the coming years.
by: Caroline Smith Contributing Writer

Starting July 22, the Halifax River Partners began clearing trees and vegetation around its portion of Riverwalk in efforts of restoration, as announced by the city of Port Orange on July 18.

The clearing of the River District area owned by developer has to be done to meet federal, state and local development requirements, since the Halifax River Partners will need to fill the ground with around 4 feet of fill to meet code elevation, according to the Master Development Agreement and press release. The extent and amount of fill necessary to meet development requirements makes it unlikely that the trees would survive after disruption around the trees’ roots. According to the agreement, the Halifax River Partners are exempt from paying the $44,120 mitigation payment (or adding 130 trees within the project area) because of the amount of fill necessary to begin development.

The tree clearing paves the way for a new Riverwalk development.

“The majority of the site infrastructure (utilities, stormwater landscape buffers, and multi-purpose trail) and restaurant on the point property are to be developed in Phase 1,” said the Community Development Department of Port Orange in an email to the Port Orange Observer.

Phase 1 of the Conceptual Development Plan will be completed by September 2019, and the new restaurant on the point and other site improvements, like landscaping, will be completed by September 2020, according to the Community Development department. Two new condominium buildings will be completed in Phases 2 and 3; the marina expansion will take place in Phases 4 and 5.

“The current Master Development Agreement for the HRP property only provides completion date for the public trail and park, underground utilities, and parking lot and associated site improvements by September 2019, and completion of the restaurant on the point by September 2020,” the Community Development department said.

The clearing will have little to no impact on traffic and quality of life in the coming months, the department stated. The clearing will operate under normal construction hours and measures have been taken by Port Orange to ensure eroded soil stays in an on-site location.

“The entire clearing operation is not expected to last more than a couple weeks,” the department said.

So far, only one gopher tortoise burrow has been located near the construction site, but is protected by a 25-foot fence, as authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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