Rural Outreach Effort Earns Outstanding Planning Study Award

Rural Outreach Effort Earns Outstanding Planning Study Award

With more than 1,575 farms that have an annual impact of approximately $5.2 billion on the local economy, agriculture is big business in Volusia County. It’s also a way of life for many residents.

To preserve rural and agricultural communities, Volusia County’s Planning and Development Services Division launched a “Listening, Hearing, and Planning for Rural Volusia” initiative in 2023. While the program is still in its infancy, it has attracted the attention of the Florida Planning and Zoning Association’s Surfcoast Chapter, which gave it the 2023 Outstanding Planning Study Award in December, according to a media release.

The planning team started by hosting five public workshops to explain changes to the future land use element in the county’s Comprehensive Plan and ask rural residents how they would like to see Volusia County grow. Four major themes emerged: slow down on development, protect the environment, prevent flooding, and improve transportation, the release states.

After meeting with Seville residents in 2023, the planning team will reach out to residents of DeLeon Springs, Tomoka Farms Village, Samsula, Osteen, and Enterprise in the coming year.

“Rural and agricultural residents want to be heard and included in positive change,” said Planning and Development Services Director Carol McFarlane, in the release. “We believe the county’s outreach efforts will help formulate a series of solutions that will protect the resources and the way of life that rural Volusians have come to love and appreciate.”