of The Daytona Beach News-Journal
By Dustin Wyatt
Published November 5, 2019
The developers behind a massive, long-envisioned plan for
Southeast Volusia known as Farmton want to turn the area into a special taxing
A not-yet-started, but long-envisioned commercial and
residential development project slated for 66,000 acres in Southeast Volusia
County will need lots of roads when all is done.
Some of the roads will snake throughout the 25,000 houses slated for the Farmton
area between Osteen and Oak Hill. Others will help motorists get to and from the
2,300 jobs that will one day be created on 4 million square feet of commercial
space, according to plans,
And even though brick-and-mortar construction won’t start until 2026, Farmton
developers Miami Corp intend to eventually open up access to the area from
Interstate-95 by building an interchange to Maytown Road near Oak Hill.
All of that new infrastructure will be costly, but Volusia County won’t have to
reach into its coffers for funding. Nor will the city of Edgewater or Brevard
County, where a portion of the Farmton development sits.
That’s because Farmton — an at-times controversial vision that goes back 60
years — plans to fund its own roads and utilities as a self-sustaining special
taxing district, one of several throughout Florida.
Two taxing districts are already in place for the region. Miami Corp is looking
to consolidate those districts into a larger one, called a stewardship — more
specifically, the Deering Park Stewardship District.
The Farmton Development on 66,000 acres in Southeast
Volusia County will bring 25,000 new homes to the area. Although the
project isn't slated for construction until 2026, the developer, Misami
Corp., intend to open up access to the area from the Interstate 95 by
building an interchange to Maytown Road near Oak Hill.
That request must go before the Florida Legislature for
approval, but only after Volusia and Brevard counties and the city of Edgewater
give their consent. Brevard County and Edgewater have already signed off.
The Volusia County Council will vote on the taxing district
and new name on Tuesday, which would allow Farmton to have all the authority of
a local government, including the “ability to levy taxes on its residents for
construction and maintenance,” according to county agenda materials.
The special district was envisioned when the county inked a comprehensive plan
for Farmton in 2011, and per that plan, the county would still have some
authority over the region when development begins in 2026. The unincorporated
area of the district within Volusia County would continue to be subject to
county planning and development regulations, according to agenda materials.
Developers have promised to build nothing on more than half of the land, keeping
45,000 acres for conservation.
“The county gets to decide where the roads are going to be, and how they will
look, but they don’t have to pay for it,” said Glenn Storch, the attorney
representing Miami Corp. “It’s the best of both worlds.
“The important thing is that none of the taxpayers outside of the area would be
required to contribute,” he added.
That’s a good deal to Councilwoman Deb Denys, who represents that area of the
“Why would we have an objection to allow an assessing district that will have no
affect to the taxpaying citizens of any kind?” she said. “Farmton from the
beginning stated it would be fiscally neutral and this is the legislative
mechanism to assure that outcome. Actually, Farmton is the template for
sustainability and how to preserve large conservation areas again with no cost
to our citizens.”
Miami Corp. began piecing together its holdings in Volusia County in the 1920s,
eventually amassing more than 59,000 acres in Volusia and Brevard counties it
used mainly for timber farming and hunting. The Chicago-based, family-owned
holding company launched the effort to develop the long-term plan and protect
its development rights in 2007-2008, with the first approval coming from Volusia
County in 2009.
The Farmton local plan designated 15,081 acres in Volusia County for
development, with up to 23,100 residential units and 4.7 million square feet of
commercial, office and industrial space. The plan set aside 31,876 acres for
conservation. Another 9,000 acres of the company’s land in Brevard County was
deeded to conservation.
No development can start on the Farmton property between Osteen and Oak Hill
until 2026 when the population increases enough to justify the growth, per a
Special taxing districts, or community development districts (CDDs), aren’t
uncommon throughout Florida. Some can be found already in Volusia County.
One Daytona, the shopping and dining hub across from the Daytona Beach
International Speedway, is able to charge customers a 1-percent “user fee”
tacked on to each purchase for amenities and maintenance because of this
A stewardship district is essentially a much larger CDD that covers multiple
counties or cities. Examples elsewhere include Ave Maria in Collier County and
Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County. Both residential communities act as small
towns, complete with a governing board.
If the Deering Park Stewardship District moves forward, Farmton would elect a
board of supervisors from the property owners within the district boundaries.
“The board of supervisors would essentially function like a city council,” said
deputy county attorney Jamie Seaman.
County Chair Ed Kelley said he doesn’t see any reason not to support the
developer’s request for a special district.
“This has been the plan all along,” he said. “It’s not going to adversely impact
the county; it’s not going to impact the residents of the unincorporated parts
of the county or residents in other areas. They will be self-sufficient in
funding those services that they will provide to its residents.”