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Palm Coast Thursday, Mar. 17, 2022 3 months ago

With some reluctance, planning board approves 418-home community on U.S. 1

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Board members expressed concerns about the small size of some of the lots in the development.
by: Jonathan Simmons Senior Editor

Palm Coast may get 418 news homes on U.S. 1: The city's Planning and Land Development Regulation Board at a March 16 meeting approved a subdivision master plan for the community, to be called Somerset at Palm Coast Park.

"There's a lot of people out there concerned about growth, and maybe that it's out of control."

 

— BILL HOOVER, Palm Coast senior planner

But although the board voted for the development 5-1, with board member Sybil Dodson-Lucas dissenting, multiple board members expressed reservations about the small size of some of the proposed lots, or said they thought a presentation about the particulars of the proposed development during the meeting had been skimpy.

"It has a feeling that it's just not necessarily a good product for our community, but it falls within the guidelines of what we as planning commission folks have to approve," board member Suzanne Nicholson said after voting in favor of the development.

The location of the proposed development, as shown in city planning board documents.

Board Chairman Clinton Smith said he agreed.

The development would be located on the west side of U.S. 1, about 2.2 miles north of Palm Coast Parkway and south of Peavy Grade, and would be constructed in three phases.

The homes would be single-family and would be part of the Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact and Palm Coast Park Master Planned Development, located on a 162-acre plot of land at a density of 2.59 homes per acre.

Board member James Albano, who's been critical of small lots in the past, took issue with the lot sizes in the proposed development, which would be 40 or 50 feet wide with a minimum size of 4,000 square feet.

"Just making the recommendation to staff that we really look at these narrow lots," he said. "I understand our hands are tight on this one because it does fall within the guidelines, and we can't vote with our heart, but at some point, we've got to start looking at some better products."

City Senior Planner Bill Hoover noted that locals had expressed concerns about building density during a City Council meeting the previous evening

"There's a lot of people out there concerned about growth, and maybe that it's out of control," he said. Under the city's regulations, however, city staff, the planning board and the City Council have narrow grounds on which to deny a development application.

In the case of the Somerset at Palm Coast Park community, Hoover said, the master planned development had been amended a few years ago to allow for narrower lots. That would have been a time the city could have said no. 

"Once the zoning is approved, and if it meets the standards, staff is sort of forced to recommend approval," he said. "... If it's meeting the Land Development Code, it's meeting the MPD [master planned development] and the DRI [developement of regional impact], it makes things a little bit difficult. ... City staff's going to be forced to recommend approval unless we can find something in the criteria where we'd say, 'This isn't really a good project, we can't recommend approval.'"

 

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