Also: County approves new firefighter contract, revises dangerous dog ordinance.
The last time most Flagler County residents heard anything about the Florida Department of Transportation’s plans for a roundabout at Cody’s Corner — the intersection of State Road 11 and County Road 304 — FDOT said those plans had been placed "on hold" after the agency encountered broad public opposition to the roundabout proposal.
But resident Pat Cody was out at the Cody’s Corner intersection last Thursday when she noticed a surveying crew. And when she asked the men what they were doing, they said were surveying the area for a roundabout. That alarmed Cody, who addressed the issue with the County Commission Nov. 5.
"You know, we don't have a vote on that. But we are against it."
— GREG HANSEN, County Commission chairman, on FDOT's proposal to add a roundabout at Cody's Corner
So did resident Thea Mathen, a resident of Lake Disston Drive, who said she was “extremely disappointed to hear that Florida DOT thinks they’re going to continue with that roundabout process at Cody’s Corner.”
But FDOT says that, despite the surveying, the roundabout proposal is still on hold.
“The roundabout proposal is on hold while we examine other options,” FDOT Spokesman Steve Olson wrote in an email to the Palm Coast Observer Nov. 7. “As for the surveying that was occurring along State Road (S.R.) 11, it was for possible wetlands mitigation. This data is vital if a roundabout option is chosen at a later date. But, again, a proposed roundabout at this location is on hold, as we examine other options. FDOT will keep residents, government officials, and others who have an interest in this, informed of future plans at this location.”
Mathen, speaking at the commission meeting, said she planned to contact Rep. Paul Renner and Sen. Travis Hutson top press them to oppose the proposed roundabout.
“I hope you all can help put any kind of pressure on them whatsoever,” Mathen said. “Please, we need to have that changed. All we need is a red flashing.”
“You know, we don’t have a vote on that,” Commission Chairman Greg Hansen replied. “But we are against it.”
“We can do something about the flashing stops,” Commissioner Nate McLaughlin said.
But County Administrator Craig Coffey said he’d checked on the light issue, and the intersection meets traffic signalization regulations with the amber lights, and “is correct, the way it is.”
Pat Cody said she’d lived in the area most of her life. “Over the last many, many years I have asked anyone who would listen to me — whether it was commissioners, whether it was sheriffs, whether it was engineers — about doing something about the lights and the signs,” she said. “Yes, they blink yellow and yes, that might be the way they need to be. But LED lights have been improved since then: These lights blink very weakly, and if you’re traveling down there during the day, you can’t see them. If we could get a red blinking stop sign. ... this is going to prevent a lot of the accidents.”
The proposed Cody’s Corner roundabout is one of three that FDOT has proposed for Flagler County. The others are proposed for the intersection of U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway, expected to begin construction in summer 2019; and the intersection of U.S. 1 and Old Dixie Highway, expected to begin construction in early 2019.
New firefighter contract adopted
A new contract between the Flagler County government and the Flagler County Professional Firefighters union will give firefighters a pay bump and create a three-year step plan, and also make some alterations to the department’s rank structure and fitness testing.
It will grant incentive pay to firefighters participating in specialized teams, including the technical rescue team, water rescue team and wild land fire team, in the form of a stipend of $100 per month for their first team, and $50 for each additional team.
The new agreement also adds that there shall be no discrimination against employees for sexual orientation. The previous contract’s nondiscrimination provision had included sex, race, color, creed, national origin, handicap, religion, age and marital status.
Firefighters will also be required to pass an annual fitness test: the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a series of sequenced events designed to mimic the actions performed on a fireground, including ascending a multistory tower in full gear carrying a high-rise pack of hose, hoisting a roll of hose up to the top of the tower by rope, dragging a 175-pound dummy, advancing a charged hose line and knocking down a target using a stream of water from a hose. The county’s firefighters will have to complete the activities within a time-limit based on age and sex in order to pass. The tightest limit, for men under 30, is eight minutes. Women will get two minutes more than men. Firefighters who fail three attempts will lose their step raise that year and be considered for separation.
The contract also adds a section on light-duty or modified duty for staff that are temporarily unable to complete their regular duties for medical reasons, and adds a section specifying policies for separation for staff unable to complete their work due to physical or mental issues.
County to revise dangerous dog ordinance
Flagler County is revising its ordinance concerning dangerous dogs.
“It was a very outdated ordinance that we were carrying out,” County Attorney Al Hadeed said. He added that it had been passed in 1993 and revised in 1999. The new update, he said, takes into account all legislative changes made since then.
The revised ordinance will reinforce the fact that animal control hearings are quasijudicial, and will put into place an alternative resolution process comparable to a community control or a pretrial diversion order, “where you’re trying to take somebody out of the formal and extensive and sometimes very demanding process ... and try to seek an alternative in writing,” Hadeed said. “And then, if there’s a violation of it, it can flip back into the formal process.”