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Opinion
Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 9, 2020 1 month ago

LETTERS: Captain's BBQ should pay market-rate rent and never expand footprint in Bings Landing

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Hammock Community Association advocates for park land.
by: Guest Writer

Dear Editor:

Bings Landing County Park was purchased with taxpayer funds as an Environmentally Sensitive Land for access to the Intracoastal Waterway. Later, a significant historic site was discovered so the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This small gem of a park was created for the enjoyment of all of Flagler County residents and our visitors.

Captain’s BBQ, a restaurant in the park, rents its building from Flagler County and enjoys a far-below-market rent for the building, considering its prime location on the ICW. It also enjoys other county financial support that private business owners do not receive.

In November 2018, the Flagler County administrator and county commissioners signed a financially bad lease with Captain’s BBQ, allowing it to build a larger restaurant in Bings Landing. The public objected because the size of the new restaurant would have overwhelmed the people’s park, reduced the public’s ability to use the park, and likely required even more park land to be converted into parking. The new restaurant would also have required a huge outlay of taxpayer money — to a private restaurant owner.

After months of public input the County Commissioners voted to revoke the November 2018 contract. Captain’s BBQ sued Flagler County. A mediation was held and a final settlement between Flagler County and Captain’s BBQ appears to be imminent. 

The agreement in principle, as we understand it, includes, among other terms:

  • The November 2018 lease will be null and void. The new lease will have the same renewal terms that were in the November 2018 lease, but with market rate increases in rent over time.
  • Captain’s will be allowed to book special events in the pavilion like any other entity.
  • In case of catastrophic damage to the building of more than 50%, the county can elect not to repair. Captain's may then elect to build on that same site. Sewer/septic will be governed by state rules.
  • If the county does not accept this, a drawn-out jury trial would ensue. Details of the settlement still need to be worked out.

These are our concerns:

  • The pavilion is one of the locations most frequently rented by Flagler County residents for reunions and family outings. There should be control over blocking of rental dates to make sure the pavilion is available for the public to rent during popular seasons and not reserved just for Captain’s BBQ events. Captain’s BBQ should pay for the reservation, just as the public is required to. 
  • Should there be a catastrophic event that destroys the existing building, a new building should not exceed the existing footprint, seating capacity, parking, and liquor licenses: nothing more. 
  • Captain’s BBQ should pay fair market rent and its own utilities and taxes, so it does not have an unfair competitive advantage over other businesses.    

The Hammock Community Association is highly involved with Bings Landing County Park, as it is in our neighborhood, but the work we do is on behalf of all residents of Flagler County, not just those who live in the Hammock. Bings Landing County Park was purchased with your property tax dollars.

Let your commissioner know how you feel about the final details of the settlement. It is your county park and all county commissioners will vote on the final settlement.  

Submitted by the Hammock Community Association, a nonprofit volunteer organization.

 

Protect the park for the public, not the restaurant

Dear Editor:

It is fortunate a settlement between Flagler County and Captain’s BBQ appears to be imminent. This has been a divisive issue in the County and is best put behind us. I hope the commission will finalize a settlement which protects the park.

Almost 2,000 individuals, almost all Flagler County residents, signed a petition requesting that Captain’s not be allowed to build a larger building in the park. If there is catastrophic loss of the building, any new building should not increase in scope, size or occupancy of the restaurant.

This was never about the restaurant owners’ desire to have a larger, fine-dining restaurant and bar. It was and remains about maintaining this park for the public. I hope Captain’s will continue to prosper at their current location. If Captain’s BBQ wants to expand, I wish them every success on private property.     

Please insure that the public’s needs are protected, now and in the future, in any finalized settlement.

Joy Ellis

The Hammock
 

 

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