Category Archives: debary

2 DeBary projects offer boost worth $300 million

Two separate DeBary projects recently announced efforts worth millions. One is a subdivision on the St. Johns River. The other is a mixed-use project along U.S. Highway 17-92.

Riviera Bella grows

A recently announced expansion of Riviera Bella will add to the value of the 708-home riverfront subdivision over 20 years. The total value equates to about $300 million in sales.

Riviera Bella upgrades

The DeBary City Council approved a 66-acre expansion for Riviera Bella last year.

The property, located across Fort Florida Road near Konomac Lake, will accommodate an additional 293 single-family homes.

There are only 150 homesites remaining for new homes within the original 415-unit Riviera Bella development, Jerome Henin, president of the Winter Park-based Henin Group,  said in a statement.

“The logical next step is to expand on that success by adding adjacent homesites and more amenities,” he said.

The old and new sections of the subdivision will be joined by an advanced security system. It will have live 24-hour video surveillance and “interactive monitoring at all amenities and at every entrance. ”

A new amenities package includes a $300,000 state-of-the-art splash park with cabana, along with a nature park, nature trails and four playgrounds scattered throughout the new phases.

“In the original Riviera Bella, M/I Homes is currently selling and building new single-family homes on the remaining 150 homesites,” a statement said. “Priced from the high $200s and with some riverfront homes well over 1 million, those homes are expected to be sold out by mid-2019.”

D.R. Horton will build new single-family homes priced from the mid $200s in the new section. “The homebuilder will start its first models and sales will begin during the first quarter of next year in the new extension of Riviera Bella.  Build-out is projected to be complete between 2022 and 2023,” a statement said.

DeBary Town Center

Meanwhile, a nearly $4 million loan was recently announced for  Charles Wayne Properties for the DeBary Town Center, a roughly 68-acre mixed-use project at the southeast corner of Dirksen Drive and U.S. Highway 17-92.

The property, the largest undeveloped parcel within walking distance of any SunRail station in Central Florida, sits within a zone the DeBary City Council has targeted for high-end growth.

Apartments in Town Center

After years of debate and study, the DeBary City Council approved the first project within the DeBary Town Center in September.

Officials backed an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019, David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Development, told council members.

TOD zone

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

The property is part of Steve Costa’s 68-acre parcel with frontage along U.S. 17-92. That is part of a 200-acre, SunRail-anchored Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone.

In recent years, DeBary has laid the groundwork to encourage and manage development in the TOD with special rules designed to ensure high-end, consistent growth.

Development plans include the addition of more than 258,000 square feet of commercial space, according to a news release from Orlando-based First GREEN bank.

Easy-access connectors

“There will also be new, easy-access connection points between the SunRail System and neighboring nature trails,” the statement said. “These additions will help serve and grow DeBary’s population of roughly 20,000 residents by offering new housing, shopping and eco-friendly transportation options.

Plans call for 2,200 residential units of all types, mixed with senior-living facilities and stores, from coffee shops to small groceries, the statement added.

“We are excited to support this project, which will provide the community with a multi-functional area, built to serve both the urban and ecotourist industries,” said Ken LaRoe, founder and chairman of First GREEN Bank. “The area will facilitate more SunRail use, which equates to less carbon emissions, and the area will simultaneously encourage both business development and outdoor recreation. This aligns with our bank’s mission, which supports financially, environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.”

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DeBary OKs medical marijuana rules on 1st reading

In a historic vote, a majority of DeBary City Council members on Wednesday gave initial support for an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the city under certain restrictions.

DeBary City Council  member Erika Benfield cast the lone dissenting vote, saying dispensary rules are not needed because no one is applying for one in DeBary. Besides, she added, a dispensary already exists a just a short drive away — in Deltona.

City Council member Mike Brady said studies show no public health threat from dispensaries and residents should have control of their communities.

“So it’s not the scare tactics that I want to look at it. It’s the facts,” Brady said. “We are past the Reefer Madness — the potheads on the corner. Those things don’t happen anymore.”

Voter Approval

Florida voters in 2016 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana. Local jurisdictions across are grappling with limited options on how to regulate dispensaries through zoning.

The beneficiaries of dispensaries are not small-business owners, but are “big giants” and “big dogs,” including businesses that also sell recreational marijuana in other parts of the U.S., Benfield argued.

“This is not a vote just about medical marijuana. This is a vote about opening up our storefront retail location to a big-box giant,” Benfield said.

‘Very Little Restriction’

“I support the legalization of medical marijuana for sick patients.  It’s been approved already, and since we don’t have any applicants to consider, I will vote against a resolution that opens the door with very little restriction as to where it should be in DeBary.”

DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia said he’s heard from residents for years who have asked for medical marijuana dispensaries for medical and mental health issues. That includes fellow veterans, including some suffering from PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).

“I had brothers that came up and said to me they go to Colorado on regular basis,” Garcia said. Recreational marijuana is legal in that state.

Second Vote

In DeBary, a second vote is needed for final approval of the ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries.

As proposed,  dispensaries would be allowed in the same commercial and industrial areas where pharmacies are permitted.

Dispensaries wouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of an elementary school under the proposal.

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DeBary prescription-drug dropoff today

Hey, DeBary residents. Got pills you don’t need?

Join thousands of others across the country today by cleaning out your medicine cabinets of unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The dropoff location in DeBary is at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office district station at 79 S. Charles Beall Blvd., DeBary.  Call  (386) 668-3830 for details.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s safe.

“No questions asked. This is a great way to prevent drug addiction, overdose deaths or accidental ingestion by children,” Laura Williams, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The DeBary location is among roughly 5,000 across the country participating in the drug-safety, environmentally friendly initiative.

“Disposing of leftover painkillers or other addictive medicines in the house is one of the best ways to prevent a member of your family from becoming a victim of the opioid epidemic,” DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson said in a statement. “More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the largest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen.”

Three other locations in Volusia County are also taking unwanted pills:

  • 1691 Providence Blvd., Deltona; (386) 860-7030
  • 1435 U.S. 1, Suite D-3, Ormond Beach; (386) 323-0151
  • 101 E. Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach; (386) 423-3301

The dropoffs are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“For those who miss Saturday’s event, the Sheriff’s Office offers a continuous program where residents can drop off unwanted prescription drugs at a district office or make arrangements to have a deputy pick up their unwanted prescription medicine by calling the Sheriff’s Office’s Communications Center (386-248-1777),” Williams said.

More than 4,000 jurisdictions — including local, tribal, and community partners — are participating, the DEA said.

“The effort will help prevent these drugs, including opioids, from falling into the wrong hands and contributing to a lethal drug abuse epidemic in the United States,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

“The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis,” the statement added.

More than 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs were turned in at nearly 5,500 dropoffs in April.

“Today the United States is facing the worst drug crisis in our history, as more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We lose one American life to drugs every nine minutes. This crisis affects every American, as it is filling up our emergency rooms, our foster homes, and our cemeteries.”

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DeBary center task force backs $42K for ‘due diligence’

The DeBary City Council will soon consider shelling out more than $40,000 as plans move forward for a multimillion-dollar community center.

A council-appointed task force recently backed a request to spend an estimated  $42,500 for studies and a deposit on roughly 7 acres next to the DeBary SunRail station.

The council must approve the expenditures for the costs of “due diligence” on the property, which is being considered for a proposed $12.5 million community center.

The land was once the home of Lake Villa Estates. The mobile-home park was cleared after residents were told to leave in 2015.

It has since been considered as a possible home for a proposed taxpayer funded community center because of its location within a key growth zone along U.S. Highway 17-92.

Support expressed

DeBary City Council has expressed support for a center to residents a variety of services, including exercise and gathering opportunities.  But it has not yet scheduled a referendum for voter approval.

Voter approval is needed for the city to issue bonds to raise revenue for the project.

The city estimates the project would cost $1.5 million for the land and an additional $11 million for construction.

The council appointed nine residents to a task force to study the proposal.

In June, the DeBary City Council endorsed a recommendation from the task force to pursue the project, saying the panel should work with city staffers on details and develop a public-education campaign for voters.

DeBary City Council: Sell $12M center to public

On Oct. 11, the Community Center Task Force gathered to consider recommendations from city staffers about initial costs to evaluate the 7-acre property, an alternative parcel near Rob Sullivan Park off Highbanks Road or both.

Task Force Support

The task force stuck with its top pick, the 7-acre parcel, endorsing a recommendation from staff to spend an estimated  $42,500  for standard “due diligence” costs.

“It’s a normal part of doing this,” Interim City Manager Ron McLemore told task force members.  He also noted that if the city won’t lose money if it put money into the land even if voters reject the bond measure. That’s because the value of the land is expected to increase, he said.

The city already owns about 3 acres nearby, another factor cited as a reason to support the 7-acre property.

The expenditures, which must be approved by the City Council, calls for spending:

  • $12,000 for two environmental studies
  • $5,500 for a real estate appraisal and title search
  • $25,000 for a “soft contract” deposit

The City Council is expected to consider the expenditures before the holidays, but an exact date wasn’t immediately available.

Center Vision

The vision for the center calls for an indoor running track, workout room, kitchen, meeting rooms and other amenities.

As proposed, the two-story building would have more than 40,000 square feet of space and 150 parking spaces.

The center’s operation and maintenance cost are estimated at $561,000. Room rental fees and other charges would generate about $250,000, leaving a deficit of about $311,000.

The property sits inside a roughly 200-acre transit-oriented district (TOD) targeted for a mix of uses, including residential and commercial.

TOD’s First Project

The DeBary City Council recently approved the first project since the TOD was approved.

The council approved an incentive package worth $180,000 and a development plan for a 289-unit apartment complex with an estimated value of $25 million.

Hawthorne Landing (also called Integra 289 Exchange) is planned on 16 acres southeast of U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on land commonly known as the Costa property.

That’s north of the SunRail station and the 7-acre parcel.

Construction on Hawthorne Landing could begin in spring 2018 with completion set for summer 2019.

DeBary Community Center

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Duke Energy slammed by otherwise thankful DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia

DeBary Diner got a shout out for providing free meals to city workers during Hurricane Irma.  Walmart and Winn-Dixie were praised.

Walgreens got attaboys for filling prescriptions during the emergency. Gas stations received thanks for calling DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia about fuel shipments.

But Duke Energy got a failing grade from Garcia.

“I have issues with Duke Energy and how they went about it, ” Garcia said during Wednesday’s council meeting. “Yes, they need a lot of fixing. Yes, they need to turn around and hire more people.”

Florida Power & Light responded within 48 hours and had 98 percent of customers’ power restored after Hurricane Irma, Garcia said.

“Duke Energy took almost nine to 10 days before they turned around and addressed the issue of power in the city of DeBary,” Garcia said.

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DeBary Eagle Scout project to honor fallen firefighters

Firefighters who died in the line of duty will be honored at 11 a.m. Saturday during the dedication of a young man’s Eagle Scout project at DeBary’s Memorial Park, 76 Dirksen Drive.

The park, which features an F-15 fighter jet, also honors a DeBary serviceman. DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia urged resident to attend the dedication. The City of DeBary, Orange City Fire Department, and Eagle Scouts want to make sure there is an excellent turnout.

Bob Garcia
Bob Garcia

Brian W. McVeigh was killed June 25, 1996 in a terrorist attack on an apartment building in Saudi Arabia where his squadron was stationed.

McVeigh worked on jets like the one on display in DeBary.

McVeigh, 21, was among the 19 airmen killed in a terrorist bombing of their housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Former U.S. Rep. John Mica secured the plane from the Air Force, and the Saudi Arabian government donated $50,000 to help transport the jet from Arizona.

The plane was recently refurbished. There was a rededication ceremony at 9 a.m. June 14 (Flag Day).

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DeBary mayor: ‘Keep your fingers crossed!’

Mayor Bob Garcia this morning expressed optimism about electricity restoration for still-powerless neighborhoods in DeBary.

Electricity has slowly been returning to DeBary homes and businesses after Hurricane Irma downed power lines and caused other problems with distribution networks Sunday.

“I believe that based on what I see the [equipment] and supplies are coming into DeBary,” Garica said online Saturday. “Keep your fingers crossed!”

The message was posted on Facebook’s DeBary Proud! page by DeBary resident Diane M Van Auken on behalf of Garcia, who is “not on social media,” the post said.

“The power company is working hard to get All the power restored in DeBary,” said Garcia. His update also said:

  • Traders Cove has power
  • Highland Marina has partial power restored and is waiting for transformers and tree removal
  • Linemen in Terra Alta are also waiting for tree removal and transformers

“The Vistas area (where Mayor Garcia & his family live) were hit hard and are still without power,” he wrote. “There are many problems there that are being worked on before the power can be restored.”

He said it is possible homes in the Valencia Circle area may get power by tonight or no later than Sunday.

Duke Energy says it has 81,055 Volusia customers. Of those, 65,438 had power restored and 6,126 remained without electricity as of 4 p.m. Saturday. Power restoration was estimated by midnight Sunday.

Florida Power and Light said 20,670 of its 176,800 customers in Volusia County are without power as of Saturday.

According to Florida’s Department of Emergency Management:

Duke Energy had more than 1.3 million customers affected by Irma. Power has already been restored to more than 1.1 million customers.

  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for western service areas the night of Friday, Sept. 15.
  • Duke Energy expects power restoration to be completed for central and northern service areas the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.

Florida Power and Light had 4.4 million customers affected by the storm. Power has already been restored to more than 3.4 million customers.

  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the East Coast the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.
  • FPL expects power restoration to be completed for the West Coast by Friday, Sept. 22.

This isn’t the first time Garcia was featured on social media because of the storm.

On Saturday, as the storm approached, a Facebook user posted video of Garcia urging residents to volunteer for cleanup and repairs after Irma passed.

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Hurricane Irma: DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia asks for help


As Hurricane Irma neared, DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia this morning urged residents to quickly complete storm preparations and volunteer if possible to help the community.

Garcia made his comments at about 9 a.m. from the parking lot of Genuine Bistro & Lounge at the crossroads of DeBary’s busiest roadways: U.S. Highway 17-92 and Highbanks Road.

He said residents should complete preparations by 5 p.m. today or, if they’re planning to evacuate, they should leave immediately.

His comments were captured by a Facebook user and posted online.

Garcia was flanked by City Commissioner Erika Benfield and workers can be seen in the background completing storm preparations.

Volusia County is facing an increased threat for tornadoes based on the latest track, according to county emergency managers.

They are expecting 8 to 12 inches of rain with some areas
receiving 15 inches.

After the storm passes and conditions are safe, residents should check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe. Garcia urged residents to clean up, but not to put debris near roadways, fire hydrants and utility poles.

He encouraged residents to join him sometime Monday after the storm passes to volunteer with cleanup efforts.

He said he expects to stage at noon Monday near the intersection to coordinate volunteers.

“I need your help,” Garcia said.  “This is not going to be sponsored by the city. This is us coming together as a community.”

Garcia made his comments shortly before a briefing by Volusia County emergency managers and Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood said Volusia County will be under a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 9 a.m. Monday.

Volusia County’s Citizens Information Center is answering questions from callers right now. The number is  866-345-0345.

“We do not want people in the water or at the beach today and in the coming days,” the county said in a news release this morning. “Beach officials are flying the double-red flag. After the
storm, please wait [for] an announcement that it is safe to visit the beach. There may be debris in the water and along the shore.”

The county said Florida Power & Light is expected widespread
destruction throughout its service area. More than 16,000 workers from nearly 30 states are responding.
“FPL expects 3.4 million customers may lose power as a result of Irma, and could experience prolonged outages, based on the current forecast,” the county said.

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DeBary car cruise-ins: Should city get involved?

Nearly every month, car enthusiasts cruise into the Winn Dixie parking lot in DeBary for fun and friendship.

DeBary city staffers took a closer look at this car cruise-in and others in Central Florida for Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

In recent months, City Council members discussed preliminarily whether the city could somehow tap into the popularity of cruise-ins to help provide local entertainment and raise the profile of the River City in a positive way.

The staff report details the state of local cruise-ins but leaves the question of getting involved up to City Council members.

“One question to be considered is if we already have a successful car cruise event, that doesn’t cost the city money, do we need to do anything else?” the report asks.

The issue is listed as a discussion item on Wednesday’s agenda.

As many as 80 cars show up during winter months for the DeBary cruise-in. That number drops to 30 vehicles during summer months.

The event is held on the first Saturday of every month except for September. The summer month hours are from 5 to 8 p.m. and winter month hours are from 3 to 6 p.m.

“They have several business sponsors including AutoZone, Subway” and Chick-fil-A, the staff report said.

“This organization is associated with the Coachman clubs who also have chapters in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. It is important to note that most of these events are termed cruise-ins so special event insurance is not required.”

The report offered details about cruise-ins in DeLand and Sanford. Both are free to the public with no cost to the city.

An event in Longwood is affiliated with a cruise-in club and held the second Saturday of every month.

Organizers charge $400 for marketing, promotions and DJ’ing the event.

“The City of Longwood acquires vendors for $35 ea., handles traffic safety, pays the $400 per event and provides marketing assistance to the club,” the report says.

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DeBary proudly assembling for Hurricane Irma


Got a skill? Want to help? DeBary residents are assembling a volunteer response team in case Hurricane Irma hits.

Tentative plans call for a meeting of potential volunteers Monday night with a location and other details to be released on DeBary Proud on Facebook.

“We are hoping to have people of all skills available for storm or other natural disaster events that can help along side first responders,” Jason Clisby wrote.

Volusia County offers up-to-date information about storm preparedness, including important checklists, online.

DeBary has been hit hard by flooding in the past, even by indirect storm strikes.  As a result, millions have been spent upgrading the River City’s storm-water systems.

Even with those upgrades, DeBary could suffer widespread flooding under a major storm, Public Works Director Alan Williamson told the City Council in June.

Tropical Storm Fay dumped close to 24 inches of rain in 24 hours on parts of West Volusia in 2008, overflowing lakes, putting streets underwater and flooding 130 homes in DeBary.

Clisby issued an invitation for storm response volunteers on Sunday morning.

“If you are interested in volunteering or just getting more info, comment in this post.,” he wrote. “We will update as we have more information. We will likely call for a bigger meeting one evening this week to get everyone on the same page.”

The National Hurricane Center said this about Irma on Sunday:

  • It’s too early to say with certainty where Irma might hit in the U.S. mainland, though projections show it aiming at Florida and sitting northeast of Cuba by Friday.
  • Hurricane Irma is a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph while moving west-southwest.
  • The storm will power up as it moves over warmer water over the next three to five days.

“After 5 days, the forecast becomes much more uncertain, with most models suggesting a sharp turn north while remaining offshore,” the National Hurricane Center said this morning. “However, direct impacts to Florida can’t be ruled out as forecasts a week out are historically unreliable.”

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