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Palm Coast Tuesday, May 17, 2022 1 month ago

Not incompatible so far, Ryan's Landing takes a step forward

All four City Council members present had concerns, but they all voted in favor of the rezoning on the first reading.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

A zoning modification of Ryan’s Landing, a proposed SeaGate development just north of Royal Palms Parkway, received unanimous City Council approval May 17 on first reading. Many more steps are required before any homes would be built, and the City Council hopes to have some of the concerns of the neighbors — 100 people signed a petition against the development — resolved before granting full approval.

With the zoning modification, SeaGate Communities Inc., represented by attorney Jay Livingston, aims to build 95 age-restricted, single-family homes in the triangular, 28-acre parcel, up from the currently allowed 69 homes.

Residents and council members questioned Livingston on several points, including why there is only one entrance planned, why SeaGate wants to trade park land with the city, and whether the increased density is compatible with the neighborhood. (The city’s planning board recommended approval of the rezoning by a vote of 6-1.)


One entrance?

SeaGate is planning just one entrance to Ryan’s Landing, directly onto Ryburn Way, which, city staff predicts, will minimize impacts to traffic on Ryan Drive. A second, unpaved entrance would be for emergency vehicles only; Palm Coast Fire Chief Jerry Forte said it would suffice, although a ladder truck may have to make a two-point turn before entering; some other developments have similar arrangements.

Livingston said that a second paved entrance for residential use would be too close to blind turns (exacerbated by landscaping requirements) and would only lead deeper into the “maze of the R Section” anyway, so a second entrance didn’t make sense.

Still, residents were unconvinced, and that issue will be explored further.


Park trade?

Part of the original plans for Ryan’s Landing, which predate the city’s incorporation, included a stipulation that the developer must donate 5 acres of land for a park before building any homes. However, city staff, represented by Jose Papa and Ray Tyner at the meeting, said the city doesn't needs park land in the R Section, since that neighborhood is close enough to Ralph Carter Park on Rymfire Drive.

Instead, SeaGate wants to build more homes on those 5 acres (the top corner of the triangular parcel) and donate 4.5 acres to the city adjacent to Seminole Woods Neighborhood Park. The developer would also waive impact fee credits.

Mayor David Alfin asked why 4.5 acres was a good trade for 5 acres, and whether SeaGate could be persuaded to help build the park expansion, not just donate the land in Seminole Woods.

But Livingston pointed out out that the developer was already donating more than was necessary. The city’s Comprehensive Plan only requires 1.82 acres of recreation area for the number of residents Ryan’s Landing is expected to house.

“So we’re far exceeding the requirement of the development,” Livingston said.

Residents were not convinced that Ralph Carter Park is close enough to count. Why is SeaGate being allowed to dodge the requirement to provide recreation within the development itself?


Too dense?

The homes proposed for Ryan’s Landing would be on smaller lots than the surrounding neighborhoods, which, some residents argued, violates the Comprehensive Plan. City staff and Livingston found the plans to be compatible with the neighborhood, considering there are similar pockets of development — called reserve parcels — in the R Section (Riviera Estates and RiverGate).

But John Clark, who lives at 68 Renshaw Drive, presented an analysis that City Council members felt warranted more discussion.

Clark pointed out that 48% of the homes on Ryan’s Landing’s 28 acres would be on 6,000-square-foot lots.

“That is 40% less footage than homes along Ryan and Ryapple Lane, whose lot sizes are consistently 10,000 square feet, or 1/4 acre,” he said. “ …. Of the 95 lots proposed, only five lots — just five — are greater or equal to 1/4 acre, and those are pie-shaped, along the corner curves.”

Is that "compatible"?

“The applicant stated the lots were consistent with the neighborhood, which is just not true,” Clark added.

He told told the City Council, “There is a reason the applicant is requesting rezoning: simply because 95 homes is more profitable than 65 or 50. Your responsibility is to the community at large. This is your one chance to get it right here.”

Clark also said that when nonbuildable areas, such as ponds or roads, are eliminated from the calculation, only 16 acres are developable, not the full 28. That means there are 5.93 homes per acre, rather than the developer’s calculation of 3.42.

But, Livingston pointed out, the Comprehensive Plan doesn’t eliminate nonbuildable land when calculating density. Instead, “it’s a gross calculation,” he said.

Alfin noted that reviewing the Comprehensive Plan is on the City Council’s priority list, but so far, he saw no reason the development had to be denied at this rezoning stage.

Councilman Ed Danko said he plans to visit the area to see for himself how the area might be impacted. Councilman Nick Klufas said he was concerned with the single point of entry and wanted to see more evidence that it wouldn't reduce the level of service from the Fire Department.

A second reading of the rezoning is the next step, followed by a preliminary plat and then a final plat. Each of those steps will need City Council approval.

Mayor David Alfin felt that there wasn't a reason to deny the zoning modification but wants to learn more before the next steps for the development. Photo by Brian McMillan


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