I took a break this afternoon to look through a packet prepared for candidates for City Commission by the City Manager, Michael Pleus. This package includes the 2022 budget proposal that is an inch and a half thick, the City of DeLand Strategic Plan covering 2015 – 2025, a list of all current or future developments that have been approved, and the vision for the future aka DeLand 2050. I’m not a career politician, an insider, or one of the ‘Good ‘ol Boys’ that it seems has been running this City for years; so I decided I’d better be prepared.
I started with the list of current and future development projects and was instantly blown away. I learned that there are currently either under construction or soon to be 8 new Apartment/Condo complexes (at least one of which we know to be designed with luxury in mind) and 3,088 brand new houses that will likely start at over $200,000.
Back to my reading this afternoon. I decided to start with the Strategic Plan since it was only 18 pages long, and I was only taking a break from work. I didn’t get past the first plank of the plan before my eyes were rolling. They specifically mention in the plan that we will “develop and implement programs and services that enhance the small town atmosphere and quality of life in DeLand.” Call me crazy, but rapid expansion with “luxury” apartments/condos and thousands of unaffordable new houses is hardly keeping with the small town atmosphere.
I get to the second page and the third plank is regarding the economy. The Strategic Plan in this section states that we will “have a sustainable growth policy requiring the wise use of fiscal and natural resources.” What the current members on the City Commission are doing is the exact opposite of having a sustainable growth policy. We absolutely cannot sustain this rate of growth. I wonder what other goodies await in my reading. It’s time DeLandites stopped voting for more of the same widely known career politicians and send someone to City Hall that will listen to the voters and ensure we stick to the Strategic Plan rather than bulldoze right over it. I could be that voice if you’ll let me!
5 thoughts on “An Eye Opening Look at the City’s Strategic Plan”
Susan Mahoney says:
Reading this is nice to know there is someone out there wanting to prevent high cost growth. I moved here last March and like the little town feel and local stores. I feel keeping it as a small town, not that Orlando feeling, that will be so wrong for this beautiful town.
You have my vote
Barbara Wilson says:
That’s great. I think we all agree that this growth has to stop. This destruction of why we moved here is way out of hand… But
if I may play “Devil’s Advocate,” I hear everyone identifying the problems and NOTHING being said about what their plans are to do anything about it. May I have yours please.
Matt Johnson says:
Hi Barbara, and thank you for the comment. Yes, there are plenty of people commenting but no plans to speak of. Let me say first, that I believe in growth but at an organic and manageable rate. We’ve got residents that currently live and work in DeLand that can’t afford these types of properties. We should be focusing on affordable housing options for those who work here rather than fancy houses and luxury condos so we can import people from Orlando. That said, there’s not much that can be done about the currently approved projects unfortunately. However in the future, I would seek to focus more on affordable housing options for those already here and struggling. In addition, I would push for more responsible review including sustainability, environmental impact, and economic impact on our residents by way of millage increases etc. that have been happening frequently. After all, it’s the city’s own view in the Strategic Plan that what makes DeLand unique is the small town charm, but they’re steadily stripping that away behind the voters backs.
James Arndt says:
How do you feel about a moratorium on future residential growth? And if you agree how would you plan on implementing it.
Matt Johnson says:
Hi James. Thanks for the question. I believe the growth rate we’re currently seeing is not sustainable. I also believe it’s not beneficial to those who currently work and live here. That said, as I answered in another comment on this post, we should be focusing on affordable housing options for those who already work here rather than growing to attract snowbirds and people from Orlando. That is where I would focus.