Plantation Oaks, a retirement community located in Ormond Beach, Florida, north of U.S. Highway 1 alongside Interstate 95, is receiving opposition from concerned citizens for an expansion that was approved almost two decades ago. The expansion would include up to 669 new single family homes by the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop and Trail (OSLT). According to the website Change.org, a petition was created with over 58,000 signatures in opposition to the development.
A Controversial Development: 18 Years in the Making
The petition starter, citizen Natalie Pilipczak, is hoping to encourage the city council to work with Volusia Forever (VF). To date, VF is responsible for preserving approximately 65 percent of the county as conservation lands. The program is set up to buy environmentally important land and maintain it in perpetuity.
In a petition update published on June 12, 2020, Pilipczak writes, “We must persuade the owner to sell his land to Volusia Forever or Florida Forever if possible. Even if Volusia Forever can’t save our loop, we can still fight to enlarge the barrier between the homes and the loop (which is currently going to be 175 feet) and urge the city council members to relocate the animals that call the loop home.”
The History of the Plantation Oaks Development Plans in Ormond Beach
In 2002, Volusia County approved the development of the 1,055-acre portion for the continuation of the age 55+ community. The development currently features manufactured homes varying in size from 1,200 square feet up to 2,400 square feet. In 2007, the Plantation Oaks owners, Parker Mynchenberg and Ronnie Bledsoe, agreed to a 175-foot buffer between the subdivision and Old Dixie Highway, where a portion of the OSLT is included. Buffer zones can be set up for various reasons including protecting the environment and creating a neutral space between two different types of properties.
In 2015, Volusia County approved an agreement to annex the property into city limits in order to provide utility services, including sewer service, to the entire neighborhood. On October 1, 2019, the subdivision was annexed into the city and requires a city zoning designation. Once assigned, the developer would be required to build single family homes instead of manufactured or mobile homes.
According to Ormond Beach’s city attorney, the city is obligated to honor the county’s approved plans. Work has already begun for Phase II and Phase I, including the controversial portion, and land has already been cleared for the construction plans.
In June 2020, the city of Ormond Beach advertised a city commission meeting on social media. The agenda included discussion for the proposed land use designation and a zoning restriction approval to remove the 55+ age requirement for Phase I. It was reported an estimated 50 to 75 people attended the meeting with many making comments directly denouncing the project. The inspiration to create a petition was inspired from that meeting.
The most recent update to the petition on Change.org, dated July 14, 2020, encourages supporters to show up to the commission meeting on Tuesday, July 28. Although, the item has since been removed from that meeting agenda due to the meeting being virtual. According to the city, “The issue is so important, public comment should be made in person.” August agendas have yet to be published.
The OSLT attracts joggers, bicyclists, motorcyclists and sightseers on historical walking and bus tours. The 30 plus miles of roadways are public access with no tolls. There is ready access to the Atlantic Ocean, state, county and city parks, views of the river, creeks and marshes, preserved dunes and beach, and historic dwellings and museums. The scenic roadway is kept beautiful through an effort of dedicated volunteers. Visit OrmondScenicLoopandTrail.com to support the mission and for upcoming meetings and events.