Arson. Political tricks. Three major hurricanes.
Rich property owners, powerful lawyers, and the biggest city in the county. Personal attacks and nasty T-shirts.
Those were just some of the obstacles faced by a group of ordinary people who decided to band together to save their
historic community from becoming just another "Plywood in the Pines" development.
ON a hot summer day in 1958, local kids posed for a photo
on the front porch of the Thornby house. It seemed then that the Thornby house and property would stay as the heart and soul
of Enterprise for another 50 years. It was a different time and a different world. Enterprise and West Volusia County were
quiet, rural and peaceful.
But in a few years, runaway development in the new, neighboring city of
Deltona threatened the very fabric of this historic community, and Thornby was the target. Its out-of-state owners first
wanted to build strip shopping on the riverfront, heavily-wooded 40 acres. When that plan fell flat, they decided
to go for apartments, and then for condos. To do this, they needed a change in the land use law. All this, despite
the fact that much of the property was wet and unsuitable for high-density development on a narrow, two-lane, winding road.
And it contained remnants of an Indian midden, a possible Seminole Indian Wars fort, and unexplored prehistoric artifacts. But
to the owners and the elected officials, the property was a gold mine, a tax boon, a chance to make big bucks -- the
public and nature be damned.
Local residents banded together to stop the law from being changed to allow
the "upzoning." Without the hard work, persistence and dedication of a group of ordinary citizens who called
themselves the "Friends of Thornby," this pristine piece of Old Florida on Lake Monroe would have gone the way of
so many other natural areas: a strip shopping center or crowded condominium project where a clubhouse, pool, dumpsters, retention
ponds, parking lots and asphalt roads would have obliterated Thornby's wetlands, native plants and centuries-old live
oak, cypress and magnolia trees.
"The Story of Thornby: How Ordinary People Took on Government"
is a work of local non-fiction that details the long, hard struggle that pitted citizens against government. The
nine-year fight raged at the local, county and state levels and through three local elections.
who has wondered what goes on "behind the curtain" -- anyone who's mourned the loss of a local open
space or anyone who's wondered how "protected" wetlands turned into a 7-Eleven, will want to read
this book -- to understand how everyday people stood up for their community. The book is full of tips, hints and
proven techniques to fight City Hall - and win!