Trial May Settle Ginn-County Dispute Over Towering Condo at Hammock Dunes
FlaglerLive | December 15, 2010
The Hammock Dunes “development of regional impact” is 22 years old. It’s virtually built out. Admiral Corp. a subsidiary of ITT, built thousands of units before the development was taken over by Bobby Ginn, before his operation was taken over by Lubert-Adler. In some sections of the development, building densities ended up being lower than those approved by county government. That means the developer had some 561 units it was allowed to build in certain clusters of the development, but never did.
To the horror of neighboring residents, the developer now wants to do so in a manner and a spot never approved in the original development order: it would be a towering 541-apartment oceanfront condominium hotel on a golf course, and it would re-route 16th Road to create more land for the development. That road’s right of way would no longer belong to the county. The golf course would remain, but would be reconfigured around the new building. The proposal amounts to high-scale redevelopment. The county and local property owners and associations—including the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association and the Hammock Beach Club Condominium—objected. The developer, naturally, objected to the objection, claiming it was doing nothing it wasn’t entitled to do by agreement.
- Hammock Beach Developer Proposes Settlement Agreement
- Ginn-Lubert-Adler’s Proposal
- The County’s Response
- The Owners Associations’ Position
- County’s $3.5 Million Gamble on Pellicer Flats Raids Credibility of Land Program
- In Knotty Deal, County Agrees to 980-Acre Buy from Ginn Co. for at Least $3.25 Million
- How Ginn Corp. Stuck Flagler Taxpayers With a $2 Million White Elephant
Almost two years of haggling has led to this: a three-day trial began this morning in front of Donald Alexander, an administrative law judge in Bunnell, to settle the dispute between the county and property owners on one side and Lubert-Adler, Ginn and the Admiral Corporation (the original developer of Hammock Dunes) on the other. Alexander won’t rule so much as make a determination that he’ll forward to the Florida Cabinet, which will make the final ruling. (Don Toby has clear analyses of the case here and here.)
Ginn-Lubert-Adler’s contention is that its development plan is consistent with its original “development of regional impact” order and the county’s development regulations. All it’s doing, the developer claims, is creating a new building cluster and shifting building densities it never used. The county enacted new land development regulations subsequent to Hammock Dunes’ development, but those regulations were not part of the original development order. The county calls Ginn’s latest approach “unprecedented in the 26 year history” of the development. “If approved,” the county contends, “the proposed development will cause adverse impacts to neighboring properties and to the public’s use and enjoyment of the public beach adjacent to the area proposed for development.”
In its wrangles with the county and the property owners, Lubert-Adler amended its proposal in an effort to reach a settlement before the trial, reducing the mass of the building to 289 units and lowering its height slightly to 77 feet. (That doesn’t mean the developer would not build the remaining 272 units: rather, it would build them outside the original development zone.) The developer also pledged to “work with the Nicklaus organization to ensure that the construction of new or replacement golf course facilities at a suitable location within the platted golf course property will not adversely affect the ‘Signature Course’ designation currently enjoyed by the golf course (sic.).”
The proposal didn’t mollify opponents.
“After review of Ginn’s proposal, my clients were somewhat dumbfounded,” Michael Chiumento III, the attorney representing property owners associations, wrote at the end of November. The proposal was “a retreat” from where previous settlement negotiations had gone. “The proposal increases building height and provides a floor area ratio that would allow residential building stories of approximately 130,000 square feet (about twice the size of anything yet proposed),” Chiumento wrote. Other concerns: the total building height would be 97 feet, setbacks would be diminished, and even with a limit of 289 units, the density would exceed 24 units per acre, “more dense than any other cluster currently permitted or developed within the entire” development.
“As you can see,” Chiumento concluded, “Ginn’s proposal leaves a lot to be desired.”
The Flagler County Commission heard the settlement proposal in a Dec. 2 meeting. After hearing testimony that included the voices of several outraged neighboring residents of the proposed development, the county roundly rejected the proposed settlement, leading to this week’s trial.