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Palm Coast Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2022 3 months ago

Planning board votes against proposal for 1,218 new homes in Eagle Lakes

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The County Commission is expected to consider the proposal at a meeting on April 4.
by: Jonathan Simmons Senior Editor

Citing unresolved differences between county staff and the developer of the Eagle Lakes community off Old Kings Road, county planning board members on March 8 voted against recommending that the Flagler County Commission approve a rezoning request for the development's proposed 1,218-home new phase.

"The density scares me. The traffic scares me."

 

— ANTHONY LOMBARDO, planning board member

The next phase would supplement a 111-home first phase, and the 1,218 new homes would be split over two parcels: 458 on the northern parcel, and another 760 on the southern parcel, which would be age-restricted.

Lots would range from 40 to 60 feet wide. The land is owned by Venture 8 LLC.

But the county and developer Kolter Land Partners are at odds over how many houses may be built on the southern parcel, with the developer holding that the 760 proposed homes may be built in addition to the existing 111 homes, while the county's staff interprets the 2005 ordinance that authorized the development as stating that only 634 homes may be added to the existing 111.

There's also disagreement over whether the developer can receive impact fee credits for building an entrance road for the development: The developer believes the credits should be granted, while the county's planning staff believe credits should be granted only for improvements that benefit the public as a whole, rather than just the development.

Flagler County's and Volusia County's assessments of the traffic that the development will generate don't line up, either, Growth Management Director Adam Mengel told commissioners. 

Planning and Development Board member Anthony Lombardo said that the project's density scared him.

The Old Kings Road and Old Dixie Highway intersection, Lombardo said, is "not pretty, it's not easy."

"It needs to be addressed. Traffic study, the traffic impact, is huge for me," he said. "I don't think we're there yet in regards to having everything aligned to make a decision today. Why are we going to send that to [the County] Commission if it's not done at this point? I think it's kind of incomplete. It'd be an incomplete package to hand over to them and say yea or nay. So in my opinion, I think there's more work to be done."

Board member Heather Haywood agreed.

"I do not think that there's enough information to say that yes, this is a great idea," she said. 

She also had concerns about traffic on Old Kings, especially when traffic on I-95 leads people to take Old Kings an alternate route.

"We don't have the infrastructure to add this many homes," Haywood said. "There's a safety issue. ...  The traffic, I think, is a huge, huge concern. And something that we really, really need to take and assess, because we're one of the last little spots on the coast. All of this land being developed — I want us to do it responsibly, and I want us to do it the right way, and I want it to serve our community."

Board member Fernando Melendez acknowledged that the developer had presented traffic studies. 

"You can have all the studies in the world, but when the reality hits the fan, that's going to be a whole different story," Melendez said. "I'm not going to be a part of voting on anything tonight that's going to be ruining the future of a beautiful community. ... I don't think we have enough to determine to go forward with this application." 

He suggested tabling the proposal. 

Lombardo agreed that studies might make it look like the traffic would work.

"But what's the reality of the area, and it being able to work for a community like this — a very, very dense project that doesn't match the surroundings of the neighborhood and the location?" he said.

He added that he didn't think 40-foot lots worked for the area.

"It doesn't make sense for this location at all," he said.

The northern section, he said, should have bigger lots.

"I think that would shrink the density down, and I think we'd be moving forward with this thing," Lombardo said. "But he's crammed a bunch of 40-foot lots in that small area. It just doesn't work. If this goes through, we're going to end up with a lot of problems on Old Kings Road. Lots of problems."

The board voted against the rezoning. The County Commission is expected to consider it during a meeting on April 4.

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