By Dan Harkins
ORANGE CITY - Goodwill Industries plans to vacate its current store at 2460 S. Volusia Ave. in favor of new digs nearby in the vacancy-ridden West Volusia Towne Center, taking the place of a long-empty Staples store.
The building where the new Goodwill is planned, just northeast of the intersection of Harley Strickland Boulevard and Junior Street, is currently 90-percent empty. The only other offering there is a Dollar Tree.
But the move will not be without concern. The Orange City Council had to approve a zoning change recently in order for the nonprofit to construct a covered, donation drop-off behind the building - something not currently allowed by the property's business planned unit development classification.
And at least two Council members warned that the business wouldn't be allowed to operate as it currently does on unincorporated county land, where donations are regularly left out in the open behind the store at all hours.
"So they do understand that they would face code enforcement as they're currently running their business?" Councilman Anthony Pupello asked the city's development services director Alison Stettner at a recent meeting.
Ms. Stettner replied that the store's management has been warned that code restrictions against leaving donations outside would be vigorously enforced in the development. She also emphasized that the drop-off area wouldn't be visible from Harley Strickland Boulevard.
Councilman Tom Saylor said the back of the current store wasn't pretty.
"I just hope the problem doesn't migrate here," Councilman Saylor said. "That's what I'm worried about."
Nevertheless, the Council unanimously approved the zoning amendment to allow drive-up retail services for the planned unit development.
In the future, Ms. Stettner said, businesses like a restaurant, pharmacy or dry cleaner could also benefit from the change.
Local Goodwill representatives weren't available for comment.
In other business, Council members unanimously approved an amendment to a local law forbidding felony sexual offenders and predators from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park, playground, church, daycare center or library.
Until the change, police were hard-pressed to enforce the ordinance against residents who were convicted of the crime outside the state.
The new law states explicitly that it applies to those convicted outside Florida too.
"We'd certainly don't want them to feel left out," deadpanned Councilman Gary Blair.