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City Council member Frank Meeker produced a gorilla toy Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the workshop, to illustrate that the city is often called the 800-pound gorilla for trying to impose its will on other entities. PHOTO BY BRIAN MCMILLAN
Palm Coast Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 7 years ago

City backs off annexation

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by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

The city and county continue to fight over the 55-acre parcel at the airport.

The National Guard is building a modern-day armory on a 55-acre parcel at the Flagler County Airport — if the city and county can resolve their differences.
 

The city and county both want the parcel, and both agree that, considering there are no tax dollars at stake, the whole thing doesn’t matter much.
 

But neither can let the other side “win.” City Council member Frank Meeker said Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the workshop, that it all goes back to the “Water Wars.”
 

The city bought the utility company for $83 million in 2003, after the county declined to purchase it for about $35 million some years earlier. The City Council set a policy in 2005 that if any entity wants the city’s water, it has to annex, which in most cases means the city’s tax rolls would increase at the expense of the county.
 

In the case of the airport, and the adjacent 55-acre parcel, the county government owns the property and therefore wouldn’t have to pay taxes to the city, anyway.
 

At the workshop, the City Council conceded that, other than a park on Belle Terre Boulevard, it wouldn’t demand further annexation in this case, so as not to jeopardize the plans of the National Guard, which is rumored to be tired of the bickering.
 

But the city does want to ensure that any visible development at the airport on State Road 100 is consistent with Palm Coast’s aesthetic standards.
 

“It’s on a major thoroughfare that we’re spending millions of dollars to get cleaned up,” City Manager Jim Landon said, referring to the proposed Town Center entrance at Bulldog Drive. “Across the street is our (community redevelopment area) that’s been trashed for a long time. The idea is to have that whole (State Road 100) corridor have the same standards as Palm Coast.”
 

The county will have the next move in the chess match.

STORMY WATERS

This much is clear: In a rainstorm, water runs off residential lots and into the city’s swales, ditches and canals; to pay for the maintenance of that system, residents pay $8 per month.
 

From there, the issue gets muddy.
 

Commercial lots and multi-family structures will soon get credits for their retention ponds, and much of Grand Haven will be exempted because it has its own system.
 

But so far, no consensus can be reached about whether vacant, undeveloped lands derive any benefit from the city’s canals, simply by virtue of contributing stormwater to them. In other words, if a vacant property floods in the middle of a forest, who cares?
 

The issue will be revisited at a future workshop.
 

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