Update, April 16:
The Beresford Woods development was heard before the DeLand City Commission April 5 and is set to begin construction after preliminary construction meetings are finished.
The Beacon previously reported that Beresford Springs, now known as Beresford Reserve, would be heard at the April 19 City Commission meeting; that meeting has been moved to 7 p.m. Monday, May 3 in the city commission chambers, 120 S. Florida Ave.
Beresford Springs, an embattled multi-use development on a former DeLand golf course, goes to the DeLand City Commission now, with the DeLand Planning Board’s OK.
The development of 168 acres at 800 E. Beresford Ave. — between Boston and Hill avenues — would allow for 861 units, including 421 single-family homes, 151 townhomes, and 289 units of apartment housing along Euclid Avenue.
The Planning Board met before a packed — at least in the COVID-19 era — house March 17 to discuss changes made to the planned development since it was introduced to the board in November, 2020.
The Planning Board identified more changes to be made, too, including additional recreational areas and additional parking.
One sticking point during discussion was the need for apartments.
Board Member Nora Huth pressed Cobb Cole attorney Mark Watts on the city’s need for apartments. Watts is representing the developer, Elevation Development.
“We don’t have enough apartments, and this is a prime place to put apartments,” Huth said. “I don't think we should be building, in the city, in this prime area, a whole lot of 40-foot houses and townhomes that are going to be $200,000 plus, as defined in the last meeting, without having apartments … .”
Members of the public also had plenty to say about Beresford Springs.
“It’s just bad, that many people,” one member of the public said. “I think it just doesn’t need to be in that location.
DeLandite Dave Ballesteros spoke, as well. Ballesteros is a golf enthusiast and vocal opponent of the Beresford Springs development. He is interested in keeping the former golf course close to its roots as a golf course.
Ballesteros developed a plan of his own, one he said developers and others have expressed interest in, which he showed at the February Planning Board meeting. This alternate plan would include a nine-hole golf course, a lodge and event space.
“I just think it’s more much of an amenity to the community than just another 790-plus homes,” Ballesteros said. “We’re still in a pandemic, so you’re seeing some people show up tonight to speak out; not everyone’s comfortable coming out, and not everybody’s comfortable speaking in public.”
Speaking before the Planning Board March 17, Ballesteros pointed to an online petition he started, which, at the time of the meeting, had nearly 1,300 signatures opposing Beresford Springs.
In total, five individuals spoke against the development during the public comment period, some of whom were met with applause after speaking.
Attorney Watts rebutted Ballesteros’ call for a golf-friendly development, stressing there is no money in golf courses, as illustrated by the landowner’s desire to sell what was once a golf course.
“I played golf at Southridge in high school, it was the place where you could pay $5 and walk nine holes after school. It was great,” Watts said. “The club had lost money for 13 consecutive years when they decided to close it and sell it. The only two years in that 13 years where they actually made money were the year that they sold property off to build CVS on the corner of 17-92 and Orange Camp Road, and the year they sold the tennis club to a private operator.”
Ballesteros disagreed with the assessment that golf facilities are money-losing ventures, citing interest he has heard and noting golf facilities in other states.
Another point of contention was the land’s history as partially on top of what was once a landfill.
“First of all, it was a landfill, and no matter how much you think it fits in a certain spot, you all know for years and years they were probably dumping in and around the area as well,” one DeLandite said. “You don’t know what they dumped in there, they could have been dumping anything.”
The ground has been tested, Watts said, and in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, will be cleared of any toxins.
“We’ve identified the types of materials in there and initial cleanup strategies,” he said.
The Planning Board approved the plan with the changes agreed upon by the Planning Board and developer, by a 4-1 vote, with Buz Nesbit in opposition.
“I’m going to be an opponent of this project tonight,” Nesbit said, citing concerns about parking and overbuilding of 40-foot-wide lots in DeLand. Nesbit moved to deny the project entirely, but the motion was not supported by any other board member.
The development moves now to the DeLand City Commission ,where it will be heard at 7 p.m. Monday, April 19.
Ballesteros said he will continue his fight against Beresford Springs.
“I’m being encouraged by a lot of other people who are asking me to speak up,” he said. “I have to go keep putting pressure on the city commissioners.”