The Palm Coast City Council will hear the proposal next.
Contravening the recommendation of the city's planning staff, the city of Palm Coast's planning board voted unanimously April 21 against a rezoning that would have allowed for the construction of a duplex community on Old Kings Road.
The board's decision followed public comment by more than a dozen residents of the neighboring Toscana and Hidden Lakes communities to the east.
"It’s our strong belief that duplex zoning will cause excessive traffic, noise, demand on infrastructure and devalue our beautiful single-family homes."
— DARLENE SHELLEY, area resident
Residents said they worried that the proposed development — 42.8 acres on the west side of Old Kings Road just north of Town Center Boulevard — would bring traffic and lower their home values.
Representatives for the developer said rezoning to the city's "duplex" designation from the current office and commercial zoning wouldn't increase the number of daily trips, and that the homes would be offered at market rate, not subsidized as affordable housing.
"Our goal is to provide 196 single-family-attached residences in a gated community with a common architectural theme," Roy Hubbard, representing owner OKR Investors LLC, told the Planning and Land Development Regulation Board. He displayed an image of the proposed duplexes. "This is the style we’d be going for, modern transitional architecture. We just want to provide a high quality residence at market rate."
"This is not affordable housing, but it will hopefully serve as workforce housing, so teachers and policemen and firemen who otherwise might not be able to afford some of the single-family houses will have a place to live."
— JAY LIVINGSTON, attorney for the applicant
Attorney Jay Livingston, representing OKR Investors, said the proposed development fills a gap in the housing market, while the market for commercial and office development has declined.
"There is no demand right now for that kind of use," he said, "and in commercial development, it's not like the 'Field of Dreams.' It’s not, 'If you build it, they will come.' It is driven by the demand, and that demand doesn’t exist."
Livingston added that the proposed duplexes would be useful for people who don't want a single family home, but don't want an apartment, either.
"This is not affordable housing, but it will hopefully serve as workforce housing, so teachers and policemen and firemen who otherwise might not be able to afford some of the single-family houses will have a place to live," he said.
Board member Sandra Shank asked if there would be any restrictions on someone using a housing voucher to rent one of the duplexes. Livingston said there would not, but noted that Section 8 vouchers can be used in most of the residential areas of the city.
Speaking during the meeting's public comment period, Tom Barrett, president of the Hidden Lakes community's' homeowners association, said he HoA hadn't received notice of the proposed development.
"The problem here as far as I’m concerned is this thing is being rushed through," Barrett said. "... There is a concern from a lot of people in the community about the increased traffic and the increased homes."
Resident Darlene Shelley, of Arena Lake Drive, noted that the nearby Toscana and Hidden Lakes communities have high-value homes.
"It’s our strong belief that duplex zoning will cause excessive traffic, noise, demand on infrastructure and devalue our beautiful single-family homes," she said. "This proposed change does not conform with this area of higher-end homes and does not complement the community in any way, as current zoning could benefit us."
Cindy McDowall, a Graham Woods Place resident, urged the board not to change the existing zoning.
'These people came in here and assured themselves, did their own homework, that you would keep Kings Road zoned commercial," she said. "Offices, maybe a strip mall, maybe a coffee shop. ... Our goal is to keep our values up and keep them increasing."
Board member James Albano suggested that the board vote against the proposal.
"I think this is more of an MPD [master planned development], and it just opens a large can of worms with just rezoning it as duplexes," he said. "... And based on the applicants’ numerous iterations of 'rental,' that’s the reason for my motion."
The board voted 7-0 to recommend that the City Council — which will hear the issue next — deny the proposed rezoning.