VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- Mediation began Wednesday in a legal dispute between the cities of DeLand and Lake Helen over a proposed automall development near Interstate 4.
- DeLand sued Lake Helen over small city's land annexation
- Land would include site of massive automall development
- Lake Helen says automall could bring 1,500 jobs, tax revenue
- RELATED: Lake Helen, DeLand debate over proposed auto mall
The automall would be built just west of I-4 at the Orange Camp Road interchange, near the DeLand-Lake Helen city limits.
DeLand is suing Lake Helen after the city annexed 50 acres of county land for the development.
The I-4 Automall would include a dozen dealerships, some restaurants, a gas station and hotel.
"Traffic, the noise... We're already burdened with backups in the morning and the afternoon," said Richard Dennard, a DeLand resident who lives in the Victoria Park area.
The automall development would be closer to homes in DeLand than those in Lake Helen.
DeLand filed a legal challenge to the annexation.
"DeLand has got an airport, DeLand has got Woodland Boulevard, they've got all kinds of economic development opportunities," Lake Helen City Administrator Jason Yarborough said. "We don't have as many opportunities, and this is our one shot, and unfortunately, it's hit a hiccup with our sister city."
Yarborough said the I-4 Automall will bring up to 1,500 jobs and double the city's tax base.
"We need economic development, we need a diversification of our tax base," Yarborough said. "This is critical to the financial sustainability of this small town."
At a meeting Wednesday, the two cities discussed their differences but didn't come to an agreement. DeLand's city manager said Lake Helen's annexation of the land would create an unincorporated pocket. Yarborough, Lake Helen's administrator, responded by saying the city disagrees.
As for next steps, the cities will meet with a mediator to try to resolve the issue. A date and time has not been set. If that doesn't work, the issue will go to court.