By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Ormond Beach City Commissioner Troy Kent gave an impassioned presentation on Feb. 4 detailing a meeting of representatives from the other coastal cities he attended.
"I want the commission to know that we're not alone with these beach issues," Commissioner Kent said in the commission's monthly meeting. "Every single representative of the coastal community that was there had concerns of their own -- different, but concerns on how the county runs the beach. Everyone agreed that access for Ormond is imperative!"
Volusia County is responsible for management of the beach and there are those who have lobbied for a return to individual management of the beach by the municipalities through which it runs.
A previous report showed the costs, the economies of scale and the ability to allocate manpower to whatever portion of the beach needs it on a particular day would make it prohibitive for the individual cities to "take back the beach."
Others are the meeting Commissioner Kent referred to were County Councilman Josh Wagner, New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer, Daytona Beach City Councilman Carl Lentz IV and Daytona Beach Shores City Councilman Billie Wheeler.
All were "baffled" the county would not allow the Milsap Road approach ramp to be opened to traffic, Commissioner Kent said. Beach driving is not allowed in front of Romano Park, so drivers approaching the park have to turn around.
"Mayor Barringer said," continued Commissioner Kent, "if the beach were closed in New Smyrna like it is in Ormond Beach, it would be a death blow to their businesses. No wonder our beachside has suffered. We need help from the county."
There was agreement that "there should be a beach advisory board, but it has to be (made up of) elected officials." There was such a board that was made up of citizens that was discontinued in 2011.
"I then learned this," Commissioner Kent said. "Guess how much it costs the county to open up a new beach toll? Josh Wagner tells me 'Nothing.' It doesn't cost them anything. The county brings in $1.8 million a year from these beach tolls ... and the company that provides the workers gets half of the revenue."
Members of the commission voiced approval of Commissioner Kent's statements and of him serving on such an advisory board.
Since the Feb. 4 meeting, the Volusia County Council voted to open the Milsap Road beach approach.
In other business, the Commissioners discussed the possibility of allowing guests attending "Painting with a Twist" to bring wine and beer to the event. Ric Goss, Ormond Beach Planning Director, explained such events are occurring "throughout the southeast and I'm familiar with one on Central Avenue in St. Pete. The type of business is that they teach art, with an instructor, and you can go in and in a couple hours learn how to paint."
City Manager Joyce Shanahan explained that everything is provided for the activity and "it is a chance for people to interact with each other while enjoying an evening out with friends. It is an interactive social gathering."
Mr. Goss explained that "it is a business that we don't have in Ormond Beach," which means there are no ordinances in place that would allow a "bring your own bottle."
The staff was looking to the commissioners for direction in the matter.
The consensus of the commissioners was to allow such an activity upon payment of a "BYOB" license and assurances that sufficient restrictions would be in place to oversee it.
After the meeting, Mr. Goss said, "There would be numerous restrictions placed on the types of business events that would qualify for such an exemption."
The new Land Development Code covering this type of event would be named "Instructional Entertainment."
Also, the commissioners voted to approve spending $485, 217 to complete a five-year project to install a city-wide automatic meter reading system, plus another $520,000 for the first phase of the program.