Other letter writers ask: Is A1A salvageable? Are activists ruining the economy?
Note: The following letters were submitted by readers — your neighbors — and do not necessarily represent the views of the Palm Coast Observer. Submit your own letters to [email protected].
Defending Flagler Beach and Bulow Creek
I am compelled to respond to the published letter of the Flagler Home Builders Association and Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber in support of The Gardens and their blatant denigration of Preserve Flagler Beach Bulow Creek.
PFBBC is definitely not a NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) organization and certainly not opposed to development. We welcome development that is sane, sensible and sustainable. We do not disseminate untruths and misinformation; to the contrary, we have broadcast and highlighted the issues and obstacles inherent in this development. We did not create them.
In July 2019, this “distinguished and well-established developer” presented their plan for The Gardens at the Hilton Garden Inn. This was a resurrected and revised or “modified” 2005 Planned Unit Development (PUD) that now called for 3,996 residential units and approximately 500,000 square feet of commercial development. This was all to be built in an area that is environmentally sensitive, historically significant, and a FEMA designated flood zone.
The developer has since scaled back to the original 453 units negotiated in 2005/2006, more sane and sensible, but is it sustainable? John Anderson Highway is not a highway. It is a two-lane, bucolic country road that is part of The Scenic Loop. It has only two ingress/egress points, State Road 100 or Moody Boulevard to the north and Walter Boardman to the south. There are no east/west roads that exit along the entire length of John Anderson Highway. John Anderson is also a Flagler County evacuation route. How will any evacuation be safely accomplished?
PFBBC has effectively been requesting that the developer either apply for a new PUD or adhere to the “spirit” of the original 2005 PUD and add the improvements that 15 years of historical weather/flooding data has necessitated.
There is a great deal of existing and/or planned development in this area already: Old Kings Road Project, Town Center, and this “distinguished and well-established” developer’s own Marina del Palma to name just a few.
These letter writers would have the focus be on economic development and jobs, which are very important, but not at the expense of health, safety and community.
The impact to already deficient roads and to schools that are at or above capacity have not been addressed properly. Do we want to become another over-developed region like South Florida? Do we want to destroy our waterways, air quality, wildlife and history?
Their letter states: “We should care deeply about protecting all local jobs and helping industries thrive with a healthy and strategic approach to growth and development.” That is exactly what PFBBC is seeking from the developer of The Gardens and what this “miniscule percentage of the population” assures the commissioners is our goal.
We are asking that the developer be compelled to “follow the rules,” the rules stated in the original PUD, the revised county Land Development Code, the FEMA revised flood plain, conservation measures all put into place since 2005/2006. Just follow the rules!
Preserve Flagler Beach Bulow Creek
Editor's Note: Modifications to The Gardens project, renamed Hammock Beach River Club PUD, were approved by the Planning Board and are awaiting a final vote from the Flagler County Commission. Attorney Michael Chiumento wrote in an email to the Palm Coast Observer: "The developer has not asked for anything other than what is permitted under the existing, valid zoning."
Time to give up on current A1A
In the overall scheme of things, what it really comes down to is that we have allowed developers/land owners to build too close to the ocean. It happens in every state with an ocean shoreline.
In Flagler's case, State Road A1A should be moved back a block or two and all homes in the way either declared eminent domain or pay the properties' owners a fair price. Despite the millions to be spent, at taxpayers' expense, it will not be enough over the long run.
The area needed to produce dunes and an effective sea wall is just not there between water's edge and A1A. As for beachfront homeowners, it seems to me they should be the ones to figure out how they are going to fix the problem, not the rest of us. For those asking for money so their properties can be fixed — it's ludicrous. I see eminent domain as the way to go to fix the problem once and for all.
'Activists' are ruining economy
Fresh off the victory of driving Sea Ray out of town and out of business, the same whining group of elitist “activists” is at it again, trying to prevent a real estate developer from creating jobs and expanding the tax base.
It is astounding that any time there is progress toward creating a more diversified and appealing Flagler County, this group will stand up and scream to preserve their own lifestyle while destroying the economic future of our community. Also putting absolutely unnecessary pressure on our already stressed elected officials, they are consistently spreading empty rhetoric to get their way.
Left up to them, we shut down all highway exits and close up the gates.
Who cares about the jobs lost, the aging infrastructure and the mess they’ve created – they’re already living in paradise and it’s all theirs. It’s time they save their “activism” for the sea turtles and leave the rest of us to enjoy all the new things Flagler County will have to offer, along with our smart leadership and strong economy. Perhaps it’s time for them to find a new place to call home.