Hundreds rally against possible auto mall

DeLand City Hall packed Tuesday

DELAND, Fla. – Several hundred residents packed a hearing at DeLand City Hall, ready to fire off about a proposal for an auto mall near Victoria Park.

Brendan Hurley, owner of Hurley Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge wants to move his dealership and expand to the area just west of Interstate 4 on Orange Camp Road. The space is currently all residential or rural, and it would have to be rezoned for commercial use.

People who live nearby said they are outraged the move is even being considered, saying it will disturb the peace of several neighborhoods.

"I don't want to see the light at the end of the tunnel being Hurley's lights coming to our property," said Dr. Bruce Watson, who lives in Victoria Park.

The auto mall would sit 300 feet from his yard.

Others said they wanted the space to remain largely untouched, to preserve the hometown feel of the area.

"They are giving away and selling every bit of our heritage, our history (and) our legacy," said Raphine Pierce, of Lake Helen, who grew up in the area.

She said the recent growth has become overwhelming. There are other zoned areas that would be a better fit for the auto mall, Pierce added.

"It's ridiculous,” she said. “He could put that thing down there at SR 472 -- that's already industrialized. He could put that thing at SR 44. That's already industrialized (too), but he's chosen the residential corridor."

The rezoning hearing angered residents, including commissioners, who didn't get notice until late Monday night about the plans.

During the hearing, Hurley's lawyers introduced changes to their plans and requested a continuance.

The request was granted and the committee pushed the hearing to a future date. Residents said they are already prepared to fight back to try and keep the auto mall from moving forward.