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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

Apartment project going forward; citizens group wants to stop it
Rating: 3.44 / 5 (25 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Nov 16 - 06:16



By Suzy Kridner




NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Atlantic Housing Partners, developer of the proposed Causeway Landings apartment project, is going forward with a 239-unit apartment project on about 14 acres between the North Causeway and Indian River.

Atlantic Housing took another step last Thursday when it presented plans to the city in a pre-application meeting at the Brannon Center.

That wasn't good news for members of the New Smyrna Beach Citizens for Smart Growth, a fledging group being formed to help with creating a coordinated vision for the city.

In September, about 500 to 600 people, almost all opposed to the project, attended a meeting to voice objections to Causeway Landings as apartments, rather than condominiums.

A much smaller group of concerned residents were present Thursday.

Just prior to the meeting, Sally Gillespie, who is working with Smart Growth, said, "We have had a sense we needed to have greater citizen involvement in the governance of our community,"

She and Marty Danaher, another concerned resident, said they were hoping the Causeway Landing owners would work with an existing 2005 development agreement that approved 202 condominiums planned by the former owners.

Because of the economy the last few years, the former owners sold the property to Atlantic Partners, which has built similar rental projects in Central Florida.

Smart growth supporters, who were allowed to attend Thursday's meeting but not speak, sat in silence while representatives from the city planning, engineering and building departments, Utilities Commission, and city attorney looked over the plans calling for the 239 rental units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space, including 5,000 at a former Friendly's restaurant.

David Glunt of the Madden, Morehead and Glunt engineering firm, said the plans have four tower buildings connected on each of the four floors, with one, two, three and four-bedroom units.

The 2005 plans called for two six-story buildings with 202 condominiums.

Mr. Glunt said one building would be age restricted for those 55 and older.

City Planning Manager Gail Henrikson said some changes, such as the number of parking spaces, could require an amendment to the 2005 development agreement.

Much of the discussion Thursday was technical, including a storm water management system and placement of water and sewer meters.

Other agencies involved are the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Mr. Glunt said, “We are meeting their requirements for the project.â€

The next step is a Plan Review Committee meeting once an application is submitted. Ms. Henrikson said if the application is received by Nov. 16 and the Plan Review Committee meets on it Dec. 7, the project could be considered by the Planning and Zoning Board on Jan 7.

Marc Gautier of Atlantic Housing Partners estimated it will take 60-90 days even if the application is submitted this month.

After the Planning and Zoning Board makes its recommendation, two public hearings are held and the City Commission makes the final decision. If approved, it will be adopted by ordinance, Ms. Henrikson said.

But the Citizens for Smart Growth have already been to the City Commission last month to explain the goals of the Smart Growth group, submit petitions signed by more than 750 people and present 10 points they feel need to be considered by the city.

These points include examining existing agreements and "developing an aggressive action plan to correct any and all deficiencies that project to have a negative long-term impact on the city, its existing neighborhoods and property owners."

Ms. Gillespie and Mr. Danaher said foremost of the 10 points they propose is working with the city "to create, develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated vision for the city and all its district communities and neighborhoods."

Ms. Gillespie said some of the Smart Growth group had been discussing for the past year "how to help the city but the recent North Causeway project solidified our determination."

"Over a year ago a number of us felt there wasn't an overall vision for the city," Ms. Gillespie said just before Thursday's meeting.

"Citizens need to be more involved."

"We want to be more effective with more participation in all parts of our community," Ms. Gillespie said.

She said she and others felt the city wasn't "focusing on our assets. We have so many things going for us in our community."

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