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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 2 months ago

City OKs initial development proposals for land near US1, Belle Terre Parkway

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Also: Is Palm Coast getting too many dollar stores?
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast may see new apartments on its west side, near U.S. 1: The Palm Coast City Council during its meeting Jan. 7 approved two proposals that could allow for  new multifamily developments in the area of US1 and Belle Terre Parkway.

"We have a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city, and frankly I find it a little disconcerting."

— MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor

City staff had advised the approval of both proposals, which deal with overlapping parcels of land, after determining that they are in accord with the city’s comprehensive plan.

The first proposal concerned a 4,579-acre swathe of parcels which are together known as the Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact.

The council approved a proposal to allow for medium- and high-density residential development on that land and to allow for residential development in areas that had previously been designated as office or commercial areas. The land is already is zoned for multi-family and single-family residential development, but the amendment allows medium-density residential development on a tract identified as Tract 22; high-density residential development on Tracts 15, 17 and 20; and commercial development on Tract 17. Industrial uses would be limited to tracts along U.S. 1.

Local attorney Michael Chiumento represented developer Palm Coast Land LLC at the meeting, explaining to the council that the development of regional impact had first been approved in 2004, and development had then slowed during the recession. Meanwhile, the developer had invested $32 million into the project and had already taken mitigation steps such as gopher tortoise relocation and completing site donations for a sports complex, school site and wastewater treatment facility.

Currently, he said, the land could be used for a shopping plaza that would be expected to generate more traffic than would be created by a residential development, he said.

City attorney Bill Reischmann said that the council had little discretion in its actions concerning the proposal: It was being asked, he said, simply to take the existing development guidelines and apply them to the Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact property.

“The discretion that this council has is a lot more limited than if they were trying to make the rules in the first place by amending the Land Development Code,” Reischmann said.

Councilman Jack Howell asked Chiumento how he expected the development to affect the city’s taxable income. Chiumento said he didn’t have a number on that, but that the development is expected to pay $73 million in impact fees.

The council approved the proposal unanimously.

MATANZAS WEST PLAN GETS INITIAL GO-AHEAD

A proposal for a 285-unit apartment complex received the Palm Coast City Council’s initial approval during the Jan. 7 council meeting.

The Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact. Image courtesy of the city of Palm Coast

The vote in favor of the  Matanzas West Multi-family Master Site Plan was 4-1, with Councilman Eddie Branquinho voting against. He said after the meeting that he was not in favor of the high-density nature of the development.

The Matanzas West apartments would be built on a 188.5-acre parcel of land within the Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact.

They would be constructed in two clusters along the west side of Belle Terre Parkway south of Matanzas Woods Parkway, taking up most of the 28.9 acres of land that is considered suitable for development.

The northern cluster would have six three-story buildings with 141 units and a clubhouse, and the southern one would have six three-story buildings with 144 units and a clubhouse. They would be separated by a wetland.

RESIDENTS SHOW UP TO SPEAK ABOUT GOLF COURSE PROPOSAL

A handful of Palm Coast residents arrived at the Jan. 7 meeting to speak about plans to develop part of the Matanzas Woods Golf Course property.

But that topic was not on the evening’s agenda: City Attorney Bill Reischmann suggested that the residents had perhaps mistaken the Matanzas West proposal, which was on the agenda but unrelated to the golf property, for the golf course proposal.

He told residents who approached the podium in order  to speak about the topic during the meeting’s public comment period that they were welcome to offer their thoughts, but that they may want to wait until the council schedules a hearing on the topic.

The subject will be treated as a quasi-judicial hearing with formal rules of procedure, and those rules allow for comments offered by the public during the scheduled hearing to be considered and entered into the record, while comments offered outside that setting would be considered ex-parte communications and not considered as part of the hearing.

The residents who’d attended the meeting to speak about the Matanzas Woods Golf Course property all decided to hold their comments until the formal hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s chief development officer, said that the developer has not yet formally discussed its plans with the city, and is still refining plans based on comments received at a neighborhood meeting. The developer will be speaking with city staff later this week.

TOO MANY DOLLAR STORES?

Does Palm Coast have too many dollar stores? And, if so, should it try to prevent more from coming into the community?

Mayor Milissa Holland asked City Attorney Bill Reischmann during the City Council’s Jan. 7 meeting if the city would be able to craft a policy to prevent dollar stores from coming to the city.

“We have a lot of Dollar Generals popping up in our city, and frankly I find it a little disconcerting,” Holland said to Reischmann during the meeting. “Is there a way for us to look at the possibility of addressing that as a community? I know other communities, like Flagler Beach, have restrictions and regulations on what can and can’t come into their community.”

“We certainly can look at it,” Reischmann said. He added that he knew of two communities that have restrictions on discount stores — one in Texas, the other in Illinois. In those cases, he said, the rationale for the restrictions was that a certain density of chain discount stores made it difficult for small, mom-and-pop supermarkets to succeed.

“We would need to make sure these restrictions were justified in the city of Palm Coast,” he said, adding that enacting them otherwise could violate constitutional protections for interstate commerce. 

“If you don’t have a specific, provable type of local need, then that’s not going to overcome the negatives that you’re imposing,” he said.

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