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Palm Coast Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2020 4 weeks ago

Citing concerns about traffic and flooding, county tables proposal for Gardens development

'You're going to build those homes and they're going to be elevated, and the water's going to run ... to every other place that surrounds you,' Commissioner Greg Hansen said.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A developer hoping to build 335 homes along John Anderson Highway must first address Flagler County commissioners' concerns about potential flooding and traffic issues before the board will hold a vote on his proposal.

County commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 21 to table a proposal for a preliminary plat and planned unit development amendment request by Ken Belshe, the developer of the proposed development called The Gardens.

The decision followed dozens of comments by local residents who said they were concerned that the development would overtax the local roads, flood their properties during storms and degrade the environment, including nearby Bulow Creek. 

Attorney Michael Chiumento represented Belshe, telling the commission that he'd heard resident concerns about traffic and water, but that the development had included traffic studies, and that the developer is already not permitted, by law, to flood other properties. 

But commissioners weren't satisfied. 

"You hit the nail on the head: It’s traffic and it’s water," Commissioner Greg Hansen said. "And you’re incorrect that engineers don’t flood other properties; they do it all the time. Marineland Acres, they're flooding each other out daily ... because of zoning rules and building rules, they built the new houses 2 feet higher than he existing houses, so now the existing houses flood.

"And that's what you're going to do," he continued. "You're going to comply and you're going to build those homes and they're going to be elevated, and the water's going to run to Palm Drive and it's going to run to every other place that surrounds you. So your water management is just crap. This is what's going to happen. We've seen it. This commission right here got burned on that community up north. Our fault. We let the developer talk us into, 'Oh, I'm not going to flood the neighbors.' And they did. They flooded the neighbors. And you're going to do it. ... So, don't give me that crap. Talk to me about what you're going to do to prevent it, and you haven't don't that yet."

Chiumento pointed out that the development would be run past the county's engineer, the Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns Water Management District for approval, among others.

Commissioner David Sullivan also had concerns about how the development would impact traffic on John Anderson Highway: Earlier proposals for the development had included an overpass, but the new one doesn't include one. 

"That road is only so big, and it’s not going to get bigger," Sullivan said. 

Chiumento offered to have the development's traffic expert, Sans Lassiter, address the board about traffic issues. 

"I won't believe him," Hansen said. 

Hansen voted to table the proposal until Oct. 19. The commission voted 5-0 to do so.




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