Volusia County, Daytona insiders & Oak Hill mayor sign 'confidentiality agreement' for manufacturing on 415 acres

Vice Mayor: 'Something stinks here' with Daytona players Kent Sharples and Glenn Storch telling us to change zoning for something big and not telling us what it's for'

Oak Hill parcel to be considered in Oak Hill / Headline Surfer®OAK HILL, Fla. -- Volusia County government leaders and influential Daytona insiders like Kent Sharples and Glenn Storch have apparently gotten Oak Hill Mayor Douglas Gibson to sign a "confidentiality agreement" that bars him from publicly discussing what type of manufacturing development is being sought on a 415-acre site that includes two historic African-American cemeteteries just south of City Hall.

Vice Mayor Jeff Bracey said he met with Sharples and Storch a week ago Monday prior to Thursday night's meeting of the Oak Hill Planning Regional Development Commission -- the equivalent of a planning & zoning board -- which voted unanimously to allow a land-use amendment name change. But the Oak Hill City Commission will have the final say when it meets next Monday night.

"Something stinks here with Daytona players Kent Sharples and Glenn Storch telling us to change zoning for something big ands not telling us what it's for," Bracey told Headline Surfer®.

Gibson, elected mayor in 2012 after a short stint as an appointed commissioner, said he signed the confidentiality agreement because he wanted to know what's being proposed for the acreage in question, and that it's simply a zone change at this point. An actual project proposal would still have to come before commission for site plan approval. "A private property owner has a right to sell his property as provided under the Fourth Amendment of the (US) Constitution and who are we to stand in his way?" Gibson asked. "The mayor might have signed some kind of secret agreement, but I'm not going to sell out the residents of Oak Hill as an elected leader if I don't know what kind of manufacturing they want to put in here."

City Commissioner Linda Hyatt said she too was asked to support the project, but wasn't told what it was. "I asked fiver times," Hyatt told Headline Surfer®, but all they kept telling me is, "'We signed a confidentiality agreement and we can't talk about it, but we know you're going to like it because it will bring jobs.'"Asked whether she'll support the land-use change on Monday, Hyatt said, "I'm keeping an open mind, but I'm naturally suspicious considering who it is who showed up in Oak Hill in all this secrecy." Like Bracy, Hyatt said she was not offered an opportunity to sign a confidentiality agreement. But even if she had been given the chance, Hyatt said she would have turned it down because she doesn't want the citizens to think she's selling out to the insiders.

County Chair Jason Davis said he, too, signed a confidentiality agreement with Sharples and Storch, and said Bracy would have been told of the development had he agreed not to talk about it publicly.

"The mayor signed the agreement," Davis pointed out. "Deb Denys signed it, too."

Denys, the county councilwoman from New Smyrna Beach whose district representation includes Oak Hill, did not return calls and email messages for comment.

Denys was re-elected in 2014 with heavy Daytona-insider campaign funding support from Storch, and others like Lesa France Kennedy, head of International Speedway Corp., which owns Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other NASCAR tracks, as well as from ISC board members J. Hyatt Brown of Brown & Brown Insurance and Mori Hosseini of ICI Homes.

Sharples, the former president of Daytona State College and president of the CEO Business Alliance, said he's representing the land owner who is seeking a revision of a land-use change that offers an "extended opportunity for a variety of options" for the lands use, such as manufacturing, but Sharples said he was not at liberty to see what the options are or even discuss a specific project be it manufacturing or anything else because, he, too, signed a confidentiality agreement.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.