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Proposed I-4 Automall on hold for four months

DeLand Chrysler dealership to move, attract other dealerships — This rendering shows the proposed location of the I-4 Automall, proposed by Brendan Hurley, owner of Hurley Chrysler Jeep Dodge. When fully built out, Hurley explained, the auto megamarket will cover 57 acres and have several big-name dealerships. Hurley declined to name the franchises he hopes to attract, citing confidentiality in negotiations.

DeLand Chrysler dealership to move, attract other dealerships — This rendering shows the proposed location of the I-4 Automall, proposed by Brendan Hurley, owner of Hurley Chrysler Jeep Dodge. When fully built out, Hurley explained, the auto megamarket will cover 57 acres and have several big-name dealerships. Hurley declined to name the franchises he hopes to attract, citing confidentiality in negotiations.

GRAPHIC COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY GROWTH AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

On the move — Brendan Hurley looks over drawings of his planned Automall, to be developed on the west side of the Interchange of Interstate 4 and Orange Camp Road near Victoria Park. Hurley intends to cluster auto dealerships into a megamarket that will eventually occupy 57 acres on the southeast side of DeLand. 

On the move — Brendan Hurley looks over drawings of his planned Automall, to be developed on the west side of the Interchange of Interstate 4 and Orange Camp Road near Victoria Park. Hurley intends to cluster auto dealerships into a megamarket that will eventually occupy 57 acres on the southeast side of DeLand. 

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

A crowd of about 250 people, mostly Victoria Park residents, packed the County Council chambers for the meeting.

A crowd of about 250 people, mostly Victoria Park residents, packed the County Council chambers for the meeting.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

A crowd of about 250 people, mostly Victoria Park residents, left standing room only Feb. 14 when the Volusia County Planning and Land Development Regulation Commission agreed to postpone a scheduled hearing on a DeLand dealer’s request to create an automall close to the interchange of Interstate 4 and Orange Camp Road.

The new date for considering the rezoning is Tuesday, June 13.

Residents attending the meeting voiced concerns about Brendan Hurley’s request to rezone 9.3 acres in an unincorporated tract between the city limits of DeLand and Lake Helen, about 1,100 feet west of I-4.

As opposition to the automall concept mounted in recent days since the idea became public knowledge, attorney Mark Watts, who represents Hurley, asked the PLDRC for a delay to allow him to meet with nearby residents.

“We plan to move forward with a number of community meetings,” Watts said.

Watts had submitted the request for a delay the day before the meeting. He said his client had always intended to ask that the land be rezoned for a planned-unit development, instead of the straight B-4 (General Commercial) zoning listed on the PLDRC agenda.

Planned-unit development, or BPUD, zoning, allows more governmental control of a development’s activities and intensity, traffic flow, aesthetic appearance, buffering and barriers, and lighting and noise, for example.

Hurley’s automall blueprint, as first submitted, called for changing the acreage from B-6 (Highway Interchange Commercial) to B-4 (General Commercial). Whereas B-4 zoning allows auto sales, B-6 does not.

Asked why the BPUD zoning was not requested at the outset, Watts replied, “At the time we didn’t have control over all of the property, and we wanted to wait until we had all of it under contract.”

The PLDRC members, taking note of the size of the audience and the growing stack of papers submitted by people who wanted to speak, debated what to do about the zoning case.

“When you have this much public participation, a continuance I am not in favor of,” PLDRC Member Ronnie Mills said, evoking applause from the spectators.

“There’s an opportunity for the applicant to meet with neighbors,” PLDRC Member Jeff Gove said.

“We need a little more time,” said Jay Young, another PLDRC member.

The PLDRC voted 5-1 to grant the continuance, affording Hurley and Watts time to meet with Victoria Park residents and perhaps allay some of their concerns. Mills dissented.

Critics of the rezoning for an automall were at no loss for words outside the meeting.

“I’ll see it from my backyard,” said Robin Just. “The lights, the car haulers backing up with beep, beep, beep. So much of the land they would use has some endangered wildlife on it. It doesn’t benefit the community.”

“What we’re concerned about is the lights, and if we have a hurricane — what about all the concrete they’ll put in? Where’s the water going to go?” she said.

“You’re talking about light pollution, noise and the PA system,” David Spalding said.

Spalding added county officials had not informed him and his neighbors about the rezoning request.

“We got nothing till we saw something in the paper,” he told The Beacon.

Asked whether the county had mailed notices of the pending zoning change to Victoria Park homeowners, Growth and Resource Management Director Clay Ervin said certified letters were sent to “all property owners abutting the subject property, based on the Property Appraiser’s records.”

Ervin said 14 parties received the official notice of a pending rezoning.

“The 9.3 acres was commercial before Victoria Park was developed,” Ervin pointed out. “This was consistent with the comprehensive plan. They have a right to develop it.”

“It should be an interesting next few months,” Watts said.

The PLDRC’s decisions on zoning cases are not binding upon the County Council, whose action is the final word, unless an aggrieved party opts to sue in court.

- Al Everson, al@beacononlinenews.com

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