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Daytona Highlands residents rating a victory | Information

Despite a detailed presentation by engineer Joseph Hopkins of the Performance Group Inc. advocating for it, Daytona Beach commissioners unanimously rejected a project in the Highlands area of the city.

The proposal was for a Small-Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment and zoning change for the property at 1113 W. International Speedway Blvd. The project would have had a direct impact on residents in the historic Highlands area and the iconic Tarragona Arch.

The developer wanted to change the land use from office transition to low-intensity commercial and create a planned development for a 5,300-square-foot building for an orthodontist office, a florist, general offices and retail or restaurant space.

“We didn’t approach this with our head in the sand,” Mr. Hopkins said. “The request that we have before you is a significant reduction in intensity. It’s a really good project. I know it’s sensitive to the neighborhood. I knew that going into this, (but) what we have before you is worthy of support.”

All but one public speaker spoke out against the project.

Faith Steinbrook, a Highlands resident, said, “As a city, it is our responsibility to provide the proper care and preservation of our historical areas. The proposed construction would essentially abut the Tarragona Arch, which is on the National Historic Register. The neighborhood is full of historical homes. It’s full of early examples of Florida architecture you won’t find anywhere else in the city of Daytona Beach.”

She added the Tarragona Shoppes, which would be next to this development are struggling with truants, loiterers and other problems, which Deputy Police Chief Jennifer Whittet verified at the meeting.

“An additional commercial property there only increases that,” Ms. Steinbrook said. “It increases the area for them to loiter in, it increases the potential for that to spill over into our very quiet, very low-crime residential neighborhood.”

Resident Phyllis Hogan, president of the neighborhood association, also spoke against the project. “Please help us preserve our historical neighborhood and vote no on both of these proposals” she said.

Resident concerns included the trees that would be cut down, dumpsters, odors, traffic and other potential problems.

Commissioner Paula Reed, whose zone includes the Highlands, said, “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come to some kind of conclusion with the developer. I don’t know what can go there. That’s something we might need to talk about. What would the homeowners welcome? I understand exactly what (residents) are saying. I feel for them. And I will be in support of my citizenry, my constituents, this evening.”

Commissioner Ruth Trager added, “I’ve always heard it said that strong neighborhoods make a strong city. And this is a strong neighborhood. There are plenty of other spaces available. I do not see why they want to destroy this neighborhood as they started with the Tarragona Shoppes. This is also a historical place. I don’t see any good in OK’ing this project.”

Mayor Derrick Henry said, “Just because this property would bring in more revenue, does not mean that we should have it. Otherwise, why would we have neighborhoods if we just want to have built things that are commercial? And this is coming from one who believes in commercial edification to a city. We care about our neighborhoods in Daytona Beach. To all developers, we have lots of properties in Daytona Beach in the core of the city that we welcome you to consider in this nature.”

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