In the future, will Palm Coast adopt the "tasteful natural beauty of a place like Ponte Vedra, or slouch into an offshoot of Daytona"?
Updated July 18 to note that Bob Jones, who wrote a letter criticizing Donald O'Brien, is running to replace O'Brien on the County Commission.
Kudos to county for attracting Project Columbus
The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce would like to express our support for Project Columbus and the efforts of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity in bringing this well-established manufacturing/distribution company to Flagler County.
The county stands to benefit greatly through the recruitment of this new business.
Project Columbus will:
• Construct a 250,000-square-foot facility, an estimated capital investment of $20 million, including land purchase and site preparation providing a building asset we currently do not have.
• Employ 50 people at an average wage of $50,000, which is $17,449 above the average annual Flagler County wage.
• Create an economic impact for Flagler County of $2.4 million annually.
• Create additional temporary jobs for local construction workers.
• Will contribute approximately $2 million to county revenue for the first 12 years years and $200,000+ every year.
• Provide $83,378 directly to the schools annually in taxes that the county would not otherwise receive.
• Add 33,000 square feet of much needed leasable industrial space in their building to the limited industrial space inventory in the county.
• Stimulate industrial growth in the south-end of the county along U.S. 1.
This project is a major win for Flagler County and its residents for the many reasons stated above.
We encourage the Department of Economic Opportunity in its efforts to attract businesses, such as Project Columbus, in growing industries that provide a better than average wage to ensure continued prosperity for our local residents, and diversify and grow our economy in a sustainable manner.
President, Flagler County Chamber of Commerce
O’Brien’s statement shows lack of respect for officers
(Editor's Note: The writer of this letter has declared that he is running for election to replace Donald O'Brien on the Flagler County Commission.)
Brave men and women put on their uniforms and go out the door each and every day to possibly be put in harm’s way while protecting our ever growing numbers of Flagler County residents. Sheriff Rick Staly sent a three-page letter to the five county commissioners, saying we can't continue to "Kick the can down the round." He was referring to the mold found in the newly acquired Sears building.
Out of the five elected county commissioners, only Commissioner Donald O'Brien made a back-handed insult to Sheriff Staly. He said, "It's a good turn-up-the-heat letter. He makes some good salient points."
By making that snobbish statement to our top law enforcement officer, Commissioner O'Brien shows a lack of respect for our brave men and women who help our growing community a safe place to live.
Form a committee to address illegal fireworks
The Sheriff's Office is criticized each year on July 4 and New Year’s for a perceived lack of enforcement of illegal fireworks laws. The criticism is reflected via letters to the Palm Coast Observer every year (as it was in the July 11 edition). The issue is obviously of major concern to Palm Coast residents involving both the neighbors who violate the laws and law enforcement's response to the numerous complaints made each year.
There is a growing tension in neighborhoods where the unwanted illegal fireworks are exploded and a growing lack of respect for the Sheriff's Office who has admittedly not viewed the associated dangers and peace disruption as a priority and apparently does not have a true sense of the degree of the public's festering outrage.
I have a suggestion. The Sheriff's Office could spearhead a committee, possibly comprising citizens, law enforcement, fireworks industry reps, the fire marshal and local government officials to hash out the concerns and just maybe come up with some ideas to mitigate the problem.
The mere publication of such an effort has the benefit of demonstrating that the problem is recognized, that respect for the law and your neighbors is important, that the dangers are real — and it may actually have somewhat of a collateral deterrent effect.
Flagler Beach proposal was not ‘smart growth’
Developer Ken Belshe and his attorney failed in their first attempt to win over Flagler Beach residents, and rightly so! This project does not meet the most important criteria of smart growth as they proposed during their July 1 presentation.
For such a project to be truly smart growth, it should be placed where intense development currently occurs, and secondly, smart growth seeks to preserve natural lands and sensitive environments such as the Intracoastal Waterway and Bulow Creek.
Belshe stated that we cannot stop people from coming to Flagler Beach, which is true; however, people come to Flagler Beach for its idyllic laid back atmosphere. If they like intense development, they will gravitate to areas like Palm Coast where this project really belongs.
Any argument promoting the advantages of the potential tax base and impact fees is totally false as pointed out in Art Woosley's recent letter to the Palm Coast Observer.
The type of intense development proposed will cost taxpayers up to $1.50 for every $1 of additional taxes received when considering the additional services and school taxes required. The developer will attempt to schmooze current residents and elected officials, but when that fails, they will resort to intimidation and threats of lawsuits.
We can stop unwanted and unneeded projects like this one, but it takes courage and sustained outcry from all involved.
Overdevelopment and litter are threats
Bravo to the crowds that have (thus far) fended off the incomprehensible sweet-heart deal between a private business (Captain's BBQ) and Flagler County government, and now are rising against the proposal for a gargantuan development near Bulow Plantation and Flagler Beach. The area is at a tipping point. Either it will move in the direction of the tasteful natural beauty of a place like Ponte Vedra, or slouch into an offshoot of Daytona.
Natural beauty has been Palm Coast's signature (greatly helping property values, by the way), but it is threatened by two things: the almost pathological proclivity that local governments have for grabbing short-term gain (tax dollars via new development) and the litter strewn about.
How a gas station owned by out-of-towners can be allowed to be built in what is in effect a woodland, and then lead to litter in a clean quiet neighborhood, is beyond confusing.
So is the fact that while cities and states with far less beauty have fines reaching up to a $1,000 or more, while ours is $500 and rarely enforced. I recently drove to and from St. Louis, was in Chicago before that, drove to and from New Orleans before that, and just returned from Arizona and New Mexico, and I must say that with the possible exception of Louisiana and Mississippi, Florida had the most roadside debris.
Time to take these bulls by the horns; the hour grows too late.
Michael H. Brown