The board largely agreed with city staff's recommended restrictions on the proposed development on the former Matanzas Woods Golf Course property.
A proposed development of up to 280 homes on the former Matanzas Woods Golf Course property must abide by restrictions designed to protect existing residents' views, Palm Coast planning board members decided during a Nov. 18 meeting.
“My client is willing to continue to work with the city on creating a project that is in the best interests of not only the city, but the residents up there — and there are some things that we can do, and we’re open to suggestions.”
— MICHAEL CHIUMENTO, attorney representing the developer
The Planning and Land Development Regulation Board sided with city staff's preferred restrictions on the proposed Lakeview Estates development on nine of the 10 tracts which would comprise it. On the tenth tract, which runs between US 1 and London Drive, the board voted to allow for the developer's concept plan but with a widened buffer.
The proposed development has prompted opposition from community members who want the land to be converted back into a golf course or are concerned that the development would degrade their views or their property values.
"People paid so much more money for those lots for those kinds of protections, and to have them torn away — you have to understand the passion here," resident Justin Simmons said during the meeting's public comment period. "... We don't want to say 'No development,' but you don't just rape the land of all of its natural resources to see how much you can cram in. The deer walk through my backyard almost nightly. They won't exist with this plan right here. I’m not saying 'No development,' but you also have to protect the citizens."
The proposed community would consist largely of single-family houses on an acre each, with some townhomes in the southwest corner and institutional uses along US 1.
The property was formerly an 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course created by ITT in 1985, but the course closed for good in 2007, according to city documents. By the time its current owner — Matanzas GC Palm Coast LLC, headed by developer Alexander Ustilovsky — bought it in April 2019, the property's overgrown conditions had become a frequent target of complaints from residents.
The Nov. 18 meeting wasn't the first time the development has come before the planning board: The board also discussed it on Sept. 30 but tabled it without making a decision, instead advising the developer to work with city staff to find solutions in areas where they differed.
But the development that came before the board again on Nov. 18 was largely unaltered from the previous version, a fact that prompted some board members to ask attorney Michael Chiumento, who represented the developer, why the developer hadn't taken the board's suggestion to present other options.
Chiumento said that hadn't been possible: Although Ustilovsky was willing to compromise, Chiumento said, city staff wasn't willing to bend its stated requirements.
"We're saying 'Please, work with us,'" Chiumento said, "and we're getting, 'We're not changing anything.' ... It's very difficult to send out engineers and planners to come back to somebody and they say, 'You didn't need to do anything because we're not changing anything.'"
A planning board member said that the developer could have presented alternatives to the planning board even if city staff wasn't interested.
That, she said, would have shown the board that the developer was willing to address the issues that concerned the community. She said she found it concerning that the developer had instead returned with the same concept.
Her statement prompted applause from the audience.
"I understand your point," Chiumento said. "... When you gave direction to us and you said, 'Go find something in between with staff,' and they said, 'You can’t,' maybe we didn’t think through, or I did’t think through, to come back with new proposals to you. But, as we said all along, we're open: We're willing to continue to design and modify if given an opportunity."
PROTECTING RESIDENTS' VIEWS
The planning board voted 7-0 on Nov. 18 in favor of city staff's recommendations for all 10 tracts except Tract 9, where it opted to allow the developer's proposed concept plan with an added buffer requirement and height limitation. (For a tract-by-tract, side-by-side look at the differences between the developer's proposal and city staff's preferred plan, click though the gallery at the top of this page. Images are from Chiumento's presentation at the meeting.)
Aside from Tract 9, the largest differences between the developer's proposal and city's staff's had concerned Tracts 1 and 3, where staff preferred significantly wider view protection zones and more limited development. The city's code requires view protection zones, but doesn't state how large they must be.
Tract 9 runs between US 1 and London Drive, and the developer plans to use it for institutional uses. City staff wanted to limit development to the northern third of that parcel, which the developer said wouldn't be workable because that part of the site isn't buildable land.
The planning board opted to allow the developer to build on other portions of Tract 9, but with the requirement that the developer include a 100-foot view protection zone and limit the building height to a maximum of 35 feet.
The proposed development must receive the Palm Coast City Council's approval before construction begins.