Will housing ever be affordable in Palm Coast? Not until people no longer want to live here, Eddie Branquinho said.
A 12-acre parcel just east of Old Kings Road will be rezoned to multifamily, after a 3-1 vote by the Palm Coast City Council on June 21. The rezoning follows a land swap that will enable the city to build a flyover over Interstate 95 to link Whiteview Parkway to Old Kings Road some day in the future.
The swap allows the 12-acre parcel to become contiguous with another parcel, now totaling about 29 acres. The land swap also means that the proposed flyover would curve down onto Old Kings in a U-shape, rather than a C-shape, resulting in lower construction and materials costs for the city.
The probability of an apartment complex going on the parcel caught City Council member Eddie Branquinho’s attention. He argued that if he knew that were the plan from the beginning, he never would have supported the swap on the previous vote, regardless of the flyover benefits.
“I just ask my colleagues: Where are we going to get all these work force people to fill these homes?” Branquinho said. The addition of multifamily housing “is destroying this town. … I think we are destroying this town.”
Later, Branquinho added, “We always thought it was going to be a retirement community, and we are changing it." He indicated that it's foolish to chase after "affordable house. "Affordable housing isn’t going to be affordable until people no longer want to live here," he said.
Mayor David Alfin had a contrary opinion. “I’m deeply concerned about growth and economic development,” he said. “I see the cost of housing and the rate of rental in the area skyrocketing to almost unbelievable levels. I’m deeply concerned.”
Later in the city meeting, Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill owner Johnny Lulgjuraj affirmed Aflin's perspective on the need for affordable housing, saying that employees in the service industries cannot afford the soaring home prices. If lower-paid employees are priced out of the community, "Who’s going to provide these wonderful services?"
— Jonathan Simmons contributed.
Also at the meeting ...
Conservation land no longer
The Palm Coast City Council voted on June 21 to change 29.42 acres near Royal Palms Parkway and Interstate-95, in Town Center, from conservation to DRI Urban-Core on the future land use map, meaning that those acres could be developed in the future.
The land had been designated as conservation in 2004 based on satellite imagery, but the conditions on the ground sometimes differ from what could be observed from the air, said Ray Tyner, the city’s deputy chief development officer. If a developer wants to pay to investigate, the designation can be changed.
— Lydia Hamel contributed.