By Kelli Jo Hull
For Hometown News
The Port Orange City Council is making it easier for ICI Homes to move forward with its Woodhaven project, adjacent to the Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve.
Two amendments were approved at the Oct. 15 council meeting, changing a 119-acre section at the south end of the property from commercial to mixed use and limiting the maximum number of residential dwelling units to 1,338. Also, City Principal Planner Penelope Cruz said the amendments would bring the zoning into compliance with Port Orange's Comprehensive Land Development Plan. Ms. Cruz recommended the council approve the amendments as they would "have no change in impact to the public."
Councilman Bob Ford expressed strong concerns the Master Development Agreement for Woodhaven "is coming in at around 30 percent open space" rather than 60 percent, which is Port Orange's standard. One of ICI's representatives, Senior Planner Tony Robbins, explained the 30 percent calculated in the plan did not include all of the areas that could fall under the definition of open space, such as front and backyards, passive parks and retention ponds. Mr. Robbins also said, "we're not just shooting for 30. When we add everything up it will exceed that."
"The 30 percent gives me terrible pause. I know they said it's going to get better, but I never vote for something on the grounds that it will get better. I just need hard numbers," Councilman Ford said.
Councilman Dennis Kennedy concurred.
"It seems odd that as we move ahead with some of these things, we change how we calculate these numbers," Councilman Kennedy said.
He added that with a 1,000-acre community, there could be some adjustments with the 60 percent standard. "There are ways that we can make some modifications there that will benefit the developer as well as the community. But I think we need to keep focused on the community," Councilman Kennedy said.
ICI Homes' David Haas assured the council this was just a starting point chosen in part because the council had approved 30 percent in the past, but also stated "that we know it will be higher than that."
He added the plan did not have more specifics with a higher open space percentage because the engineering was not yet complete as they were working through "the design and permitting of the road."
Mayor Allen Green intervened after all of the council members stated their objections to the 30 percent open space by asking them what percentage would be acceptable.
Councilman Donald Burnette responded with a firm 45 percent.
Upon agreement from all members of the council, Mayor Green asked Mr. Haas, "If this council picks an agreeable target like 45 percent will you agree to that?"
Mr. Haas responded with an energetic "Absolutely."
Mayor Green then admonished him, "David, don't let us down."