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Palm Coast Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 2 months ago

City Council splits on proposed 246-unit 'higher-end' apartment complex

Also: City adds property rights clause to Comprehensive Plan, approves other developments.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A proposed development off Old Kings road would have no immediate neighbors — or at least, no human ones: The proposed "higher-end" 246-unit apartment community known as the Tribute would look out over Graham Swamp.

Project manager Charlie Faulkner, for that reason, told Palm Coast City Council members during a recent workshop that the site was "the best location in all of Flagler County for an apartment project." 

"The way we're going, one of these days we're not going to have the infrastructure, and the quality of life [will] not exist."


— EDDIE BRANQUINHO, city councilman

The council was not convinced: With one member of the five-member board absent — Councilman Ed Danko is quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure — the board split 2-2 on whether to approve a rezoning needed for the Tribute development to move forward.

Mayor David Alfin and Councilman Nick Klufas voted in favor of the rezoning, while council members Eddie Branquinho and Victor Barbosa voted against. 

Split votes on a proposal mean that the proposal fails.

But the council was willing to give the Tribute development another chance, voting 4-0 to revisit it at a Sept. 7 meeting with the hope the Danko will be back to break the tie. 

A denial could place the city in a legal quandary if the developer challenges it: In voting on the rezoning, the City Council was acting in its quasi-judicial capacity, which is subject to a number of rules under state law: The council can't, City Attorney Bill Reischmann warned council members before the vote, deny a rezoning request or Future Land Use Map amendment request arbitrarily. It would need to be able to justify its decision by showing that the proposed development in some way doesn't accord with the city's requirements as stated in the Future Land Use Map or city codes.

Although council members didn't state their reasons for voting as they did before the vote, Councilman Victor Barbosa has opposed the rezoning of commercial land to residential, as the Tribute development requires, saying that the city needs more commercial development so that businesses pick up a larger share of the city's tax share, lessening the burden on homeowners.

City Councilman Victor Barbosa has warned against rezoning commercial land to residential, saying the city needs more businesses to help relieve the tax burden on residents. Photo by Jonathan Simmons

Branquinho has repeatedly expressed discomfort with large multifamily developments, and did so again in his comments toward the end of the council meeting, saying the city should consider revising its Future Land Use Map.

"Due to the fact that we have so many projects coming in — multifamily homes — we should look into the Future Land Use [Map]," he said. "The way we're going, one of these days we're not going to have the infrastructure and the quality of life [will] not exist."

He said he'd like to keep Palm Coast from becoming becoming overcrowded, and proposed having staff look at potential changes to the FLUM, then bring it to the council for a workshop.

Mayor David Alfin was concerned that a broad discussion at a workshop may not be focused enough to accomplish much.

"There are a lot of pieces in this process," he said.

Alfin suggested having city staff tackle the details first, then bring proposals to the City Council when they're further along.

Palm Coast to annex development site

Even as the council split on allowing the 246-unit Tribute development, it took steps that will allow for development elsewhere.

The council voted 4-0 to annex 142 acres of property on Roberts Road so that the city can provide water and wastewater service to the land, which is known as Grand Reserve East and is the planned site of a single-family residential community. 

The five parcels that would make up the Grand Reserve East community are located about half a mile north of State Road 100.

The land is listed as commercial property on the county Property Appraiser's Office website, and the developer will need the city's approval to rezone it for residential use and change its Future Land Use Map designation.

City OK's rezoning for single-famly community

The council also approved a rezoning and Future Land Use Map amendment for a 108-acre parcel on the corner of Belle Terre Boulevard and Citation Boulevard. 

But for that parcel, the developer's proposal reduced the overall number of proposed units on the site, eliminating plans for 287 multifamily units, 72 townhomes and 108 assessed living facility beds, and increasing the proposed number of single-family homes from 86 to 295.

Overall, the rezoning request and Future Land Use Map amendment request the council heard at the Aug. 17 meeting involved 150 fewer homes than had earlier been approved for the site.

The council approved those requests 4-0.

Council adds 'property rights' clause to Comprehensive Plan

Complying with a new state law, the council voted 4-0 to update its Comprehensive Plan to add a property rights clause that states that the city, in its decision making, will respect the following rights:

"The right of a property owner to physically possess and control his or her interests in the property, including easements, leases, or mineral rights.

"‚ÄčThe right of a property owner to use, maintain, develop, and improve his or her property for personal use or for the use of any other person, subject to state law and local ordinances.

 "The right of the property owner to privacy and to exclude others from the property to protect the owner's possessions and property.

"The right of a property owner to dispose of his or her property through sale or gift."

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