By Kelli Jo Hull
For Hometown News
Councilman Bob Ford began the Council Comments portion of the Port Orange City Council meeting Jan. 21 by saying, "The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result each time."
Councilman Ford said he is "frustrated" community residents are "coming back every other month" raising objections to new construction. "We are doing changes in our zoning, we're introducing (planned unit developments) and I don't think we are doing it in a way that suits either the homeowners that surround the property or the developer," he said.
In recent months the council has listened to concerns in workshops and council meetings from citizens regarding developer projects and proposed zoning changes for ICI's Woodhaven development, Jim Paytas' property near Cypress Head and, most recently, Atlantic Marine's proposed boat storage/sales project on Dunlawton Avenue.
Stating city development "is not sufficiently organized as it should be," Mr. Ford made a motion "to direct the city manager and the city attorney to develop a policy entitled Homeowner Bill of Rights."
Mr. Ford suggested general principles should require "homeowners will be provided timely information about the projects that may impact the value of their property or the quality of their life" and they should be notified with "written and clear guidelines and timelines of the development process" and the impact upon residents, including "what permits are needed" as well as "zoning changes or determinations of grandfather status."
Also, Mr. Ford said, homeowners need to be "provided ample opportunity to provide early input into the decision making process so that the changes and compromises can more easily be amalgamated into the projects."
Councilman Drew Bastian said, "I'll gladly second that!"
Councilman Donald Burnette said, "I think it's probably a fantastic idea, because one of the things we talked about at our visioning workshop a week and a half or so ago is the need for improved communication" between the city and its property owners.
Mr. Burnette added, "If we involved and we notified people sooner in the process, there are a number of things that come up as issues we could avoid."
Councilman Dennis Kennedy said, "It's sad that the function of government makes these things as difficult as it does. It's just part of the process. We develop so many loopholes and so many hoops to jump through and everything else, that it's difficult. I think this is a good way to maybe make it easier to deal with."
The motion passed unanimously.