Volusia County leaders to debate dropping beach driving fee for residents

Commissioner to introduce idea later this month

A Volusia county commissioner wants to drop the fee for residents to drive on the beach.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Volusia county commissioner wants to drop the fee for residents to drive on the beach.

Council Chair Jeff Brower said behind this one big idea are several ideas that could help drive the economy back to some of the beachside businesses and help regulate some of the traffic at these access ramps.

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Volusia County residents must pay $25 for an annual beach access pass to use one of the county’s 30 access ramps. Brower wants to end that.

“We already pay for it in our property taxes,” he said.

Brower said the tolls at the ramps bring in around $6 million dollars a year and $1 million of that is from the county residents. To offset it, he’s proposing naming rights at each ramp.

“We’re going to try to make it a positive way to just attract people to less crowded beaches,” he said.

New Smyrna Beach Mayor Russ Owen has been working to find better ways to handle traffic at the Flagler Avenue access. It’s packed with Orlando-area visitors every weekend.

“It might be one of those things where we have to try it to see but I certainly would like to study it enough where we’d have a guess of what’s going to happen,” he said.

Owen said the naming rights could help attract people to other accesses but is worried it could backfire.

“There is a certain breaking point where too much can actually be bad for local businesses which is what I’ve heard from many of them. Depends on the business type of course,” he said.

Brower is proposing the naming rights at the April 6 council meeting and the free beach access for residents at the April 20 meeting.