(New Smryna Beach, Florida) -- Sierra Club Florida and a local resident have filed a legal challenge to Farmton, a proposed 23,000-residential unit development with more than 4 million square feet of commercial space on remote environmental sensitive land in Volusia County. The plan effectively creates a new city of 50,000 people in, according to one Volusia council member, “the middle of nowhere.”
“This is what got Florida into the housing bust,” said Linda Bremer, Sierra Club Florida Steering Committee member. “When almost 1 in 5 homes in Florida are empty, where is the need for this development?”
The petition to the Department of Community Affairs filed by the Sierra Club and New Smyrna Beach resident Barbara Herrin asserts that Volusia County violated the state’s Growth Management Act and its own comprehensive plan by allowing development on a site not environmentally suitable.
The previous administration had rejected the Farmton plan and had gone to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) in September 2010 to stop the development plan changes. But Governor Rick Scott’s new growth management chief abruptly put the legal case on hold. Volusia County and the Miami Corporation, owner of the 47,000 acre tract, then crafted a deal with the state agency before the judge ruled.
“As someone who has lived in Florida for 40 years, I’ve seen our beautiful state drained dry and paved over," said petitioner Barbara Herrin. "The Farmton Mitigation Bank on this tract is the largest wetlands mitigation bank in the US, and it will be destroyed by this proposal. “
The entire property, mostly wetlands in a 100-year flood plain, is designated a Natural Resource Management Area. Farmton has been operated as a tree farm since the 1920s by the wealthy industrialist family, the Deerings.
“There is still no plan for providing adequate water, sewage, solid waste disposal, roads, or schools for 50,000 new Volusia County residents,” said Macy LaHart, a Gainsville lawyer representing the Sierra Club. “The Farmton tract is just unsuitable for such an intensive, sprawling development."
To read the Sierra Club's Petition for Administrative Hearing, click HERE.
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