Peace in our time?
In an era of polarized politics, in which compromise on policy is viewed as a weakness, it’s encouraging to see DeLand and Lake Helen work out their differences on a proposed commercial development.
The neighboring cities in West Volusia County have been divided by more than Interstate 4. For over a year developers have been seeking to build an automall on more than 50 acres on Orange Camp Road near I-4. That would require rezoning some of the land that resides in unincorporated Volusia County — a move that has been adamantly opposed by many residents of Victoria Park, who fear a giant car dealership would bring unwanted traffic, noise and light pollution to their area.
The project seemed stalled until January, when Lake Helen, at the request of the developer, swooped in from out of the blue, annexed the land and rezoned it to allow for an automall. It was a canny power play that took DeLand officials by surprise. And although it may not have been the most neighborly thing to do, the opportunity was too good for Lake Helen to pass up: It gave the small town a much-needed chance to expand its tax base while forcing DeLand residents to deal with all the negative fallout...