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Resuming Eastward March, Palm Coast Will Annex Graham Swamp’s 3,300 Acres

| July 26, 2011

Palm Coast wants to sharpen its boundaries down Colbert Lane. (© Daniela Duncan)

Palm Coast’s aggressive annexation spree ebbed two years ago with the 950-acre acquisition of the Bulow Creek area south of State Road 100 and east of I-95. On Tuesday, the Palm Coast City Council gave its approval to a new annexation more than three times as large: the 3,300 acres of Graham Swamp along Old Kings Road, south of Palm Coast Parkway.

“None of the area that’s included in the annexation has any development potential,” City Manager Jim Landon said. (The proposed annexation ordinance, however, says that the city has determined that the land “is developable for urban purposes.”

So why annex?

“Makes the lines look pretty,” City Council member Frank Meeker said. He spoke only half in jest: squaring the city’s boundaries is part of the motivation. The greater motivation, Landon said, was what he termed “housekeeping.” The city’s Graham Swamp Trail was just finished earlier this year. The city wants to “protect its assets,” the city manager said.

At the moment the northern portion of the Graham Swamp area forms a county enclave carving into the city, with Grand Haven, which is inside Palm Coast’s boundaries, hooking around the Graham Swamp area to the east. (See map below.)

There’s a third, unspoken motivation: by annexing Graham Swamp, the city lengthens its boundaries along the southern end of Colbert Lane, making future annexations east of that road easier. Those areas are rich in land with development and tax revenue potential, which Palm Coast would love to have on its books.

Most of the acreage belongs to the St. Johns River Water Management District. Private land owners, including ITT Community Development Corp., own smaller portions, as does Flagler County. Flagler County’s three parcels totaling 44 acres are not being annexed.

The council barely discussed the annexation, giving its verbal approval. The annexation will be formalized at a subsequent meeting.

graham swamp annexation palm coast flagler county

Click on the map for larger view.

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18 Responses for “Resuming Eastward March, Palm Coast Will Annex Graham Swamp’s 3,300 Acres”

  1. palmcoaster says:

    Is the city adding more expenses while firing employees, proposing to donate our fire dept. to the county to save $$$ and cutting our services, unless we fork more taxes? Why to annex now, during a deep recession and budget shortfalls? More land in our hands means more maintenance. The Graham Swamp under the St Johns River Water Management is going no where.

    Smell a rat…? Why council alone voted to approve? Doesn’t it look like dictatorial? What about giving the taxpayers a say? What are we chopped liver? The Grahamp Swamp now host the one lauded admired mountain bike trail by all enthusiast from Jacksonville to South Florida all maintainned by volunteers and with the city proposal as written better be aware: “The proposed annexation ordinance, however, says that the city has determined that the land “is developable for urban purposes.” Landon’s statement not to be trusted.
    I can see some condos on the horizon where wildlife duels now and again Palmcoasters forced to pay for the infraestructure. Good try Mayor Netts!

  2. lawabidingcitizen says:

    What difference does it make which entity owns it. Us taxpayers will ultimately pay.

  3. Nick D says:

    @ lawabidingcitizen

    In that case we should just get ride of all cities and only end up paying county taxes. This way taxes are lower all the way around. However, I don’t see that happening.

  4. PCFACTMAN says:

    PALMCOASTER Stop this assualt on the city and understand what they are trying to do.


  5. palmcoaster says:

    PCfactman could you please enlighhten us in what is that the city is trying to do? As seems like you know, so please share with us, so we are not so mistaken and assaulting.
    I don’t really care how it was in the 40′ s probably a little better or same as now. But sure I kow how good was in 1999, 2000, 01, 02 in Palm Coast. Bringing facts into the open is not an assault is information.
    So please provide your facts.

  6. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Reply to Palm Coaster:
    We just checked one of the MAPS which the Federal Investigators and the Federal Trade Commission required be given to prospective buyers in Palm Coast.
    It lists that areas acreage as ‘ Graham Swamp Conservation Area ‘.
    This is speculation – most probably it is part of the internationally advertised ‘…15,000 acres of green enclaves…’ that was advertised forthe Collosal sized Palm Coast, Inc.

    For the newer Palm Coasters – The Federal Investigators/ Federal Trade Commission / Atlanta Enforcement Offices required propspective buyers to be given a MAP ( recorded / referenced within Interstate Land Sales with H.U.D). This way the prospective buyers would know what was being offered and then would choose WHERE their LOT(s) they were buying would be – whether it be the ‘…substantial recreational areas…’ required by the Feds….or whether it be nearer the Four Industrial Parks for the younger working families to be near or within walking distance or whatever…..or the be near / around / adjacent to the ‘….substantial conservation areas…’ .etc…

    Obviously the nearer the LOT(S) were to the pledged / ordered Amenities / their Features/ Acreage / promised Improvements….- the most costly the LOTS…the further away or now within easy distance to the pledged / ordered Amenities the less costly…
    The Palm Harbor canal lots and the Palm Coast Golf Course Lots ( later known as the Palm Harbor Golf Course ) were the most expensive…as build out occurred…the ‘Pine Lakes’ area / Golf Course area was expensive…
    The Canal Lots and the Four Golf Courses Lots ( Palm Coast Golf Course , Pine Lakes Golf Course, Matanzas Woods Golf Course and Cypress Knoll Golf Course ) were offered and ‘House / Lot ” packages…whereas the other more generic LOTS could be built upon by builders of the lot owners choice…
    Also, within Palm Coast , Inc. are areas of ‘Tan’ ‘Yellow’ ‘Brown’ ‘Beige’ ‘Blue’ etc., lands. They all had specific required uses as per the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs several ‘Agreements’. There are many many large ‘Reserved Parcels’ , ( uses for future elementary / secondary Schools, Firehouses, etc., etc. ) which we allege are ‘Blue Lands’.
    For those interested…these MAPS can be seen at the Department of Community Affairs ‘Map Room’…and we think also at the St. Johns County Courthouse and Flagler County Courthouse – For the newer Palm Coasters…..this information would be within the St. Johns County Courthouse because the Gargantuan Acreage of Palm Coast , Inc. – Palm Coast Community Lands extend into St. Johns County.
    We hope this info. gives some *insight* and ‘sense of place’ for the newer arrivals.

  7. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Maybe of note for some – in Mr. Tristams’ Map above you can see the *Ribbon Lakes* and drainage system for Palm Coast.
    Palm Coast, Inc. was designed and engineered to ‘….withstand a 100 year flood…’. with the Swales and Streets taking the runoff….but most importantly….with no water entering the houses –
    That is why it is imperative that our Swales be kept open.. and avoidance of *parking* in them is critical so they are not obstructed and damaged…..not only to *recharge the Aquafier* but also for the ‘…100 year flood Protection…’ and the other massive 15,000 acres of ‘Green Enclaves’ absorb a lot of run off Stormwater…which includes the Federally ordered ‘…significant areas of conservation…’…
    It is a finely tuned machine….that WORKED….
    One of the Designers of Palm Coast, Inc., was the internationally known John Olmsbee Simonds – ( his works and achievements can be seen at the University of Florida Library )
    The drainage system was a pledged Developer ‘Improvement’ since the Gargantuan Acreage of Palm Coast, Inc. was largely *swampland* and ‘…subject to periodic flooding…’

  8. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    For the Canal Purchasers – the finely tuned machine was regularly analyzed and evaluated by the I.T.T. Levitt a.k.a. I.T.T. Community Development corporation *braintrust* – they calculated Stormwater, Drainage, etc., so that the water would be not only absorbed…but also so that it would not to run to quickly so the *sediment* and *silt* would not remain in suspension and quickly run off into the Canals…so pls. try to avoid parking in or damage to the Swales…It would not only be very sad…but costly..if the *Canals* were to back up because of to quickly moving *silt* / *sedimentation* and require Dredging…The Canals were regularly *tested* for everything…is this practice still occurring? Thanks –
    ( for those Palm Coasters Canalers…if you are interested…you can read the treatise in full in ‘…an approach to a New City: Palm Coast…’ , 1972, by Dr. J. Norman Young and Dr. Stanley Dea. )

  9. Layla says:

    This reeks…I want to see current title on all that land. I’m betting there is a strong connection to the Manager, the Council and a developer.

    They are going to be raising our taxes and want to eliminate a fire station. People, you ALL need to be attending these council meetings.


  10. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Pioneer.
    For sure I never park in my swell not to pack the soil and keep it porous allowing for the most absorbency of rain water. If as I believe the Graham Swamp is a reserve under the St Johns River Water Management jurisdiction then I am very concerned that our city want to annex , “under city findings that is developable for urban purposes”. We do not need any more vacant condominiums or vacant homes or vacant malls or strip malls, no more asphalt parking over our green reserve areas supposedly to be for conservation, burying our wild life and clogging our water shed for rain run off from our already developed sections. Maybe PCFACTman can shed some light here as looks like “he knows” regarding the reasons for this annexation? I am not assaulting anyone, just asking.

  11. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Reply to Palm Coaster:
    We are concerned that the *run off* maybe happening to quickly and the *sedimentation* silt still in suspension maybe running into the drainage / Stormwater system / Canals/ etc.. It was brought to our attention to look at / around Clubfield Canals…
    Does anyone know if the Canals are still being carefully and regularly tested as occurred for decades in the past? We know there was a big concern about quick nitrogen release fertilizer and its possible runnoff into the Canals which would cause Eutrofocation? What is the practice now?
    FR: ‘…an approach to a new City: Palm Coast…’ 1972
    Soil erosion control technology was reviewed with regard to minimizing the effects of sediment runoof during construction when natural vegetative covers are removed and soil is exposed to water impact and scour energy. Alternative methods and/or practices are: (1) minimization of length of exposure time for unprotected grades areas, (2) soil treatment, seeding and mulching, or mulching alone, (3) interceptor dikes, (4) diversion dikes, (5) sediment traps. It was recommended that ll of the methods studies should be applied to Palm Coast and incorporated wherever possible in design aof the drainage system in order to retard water movement as much as possible.
    Solutions: whereas conventional techniques have aimed at rapid movement and disposal of rainwater from a given site, the present
    Page 135

    being utilized in the layout, spacing, and geometry of the dredged canal systems and in establishing minimum homesite elevations. (2) Shallow canal depths of eight feet were selected in order to maximize turbulence and eliminate the possibility of stratification. Therefore, dissolved oxygen levels are maintained throughout the entire depth.
    F. Operation, and Maintenance of Canals to Perpetuate Water Quality and Aesthetics.
    Sutdies: Water quality criteria for tidal canals are classified by the State of Florida according to use. They fall into Class III standards for recreation and for propagation and management of fish and wildlife. The criteria governing these waters may be summarized as follows: modern treatment technology required for all discharges into canals: pH range of 6.0-8.5, minimum dissolved oxyten of 4.0 mg/l; coliform bacteria not to exceed 1,000 per 100 ml as a monthly average; no substances toxic to humans, animals or aquatic life; no substances causing deleterious effects or nuisance conditions; turbidity less than 50 Jackson unite above background; and no damage to aquatic life, vegetation, or water use caused by temperature elevation.
    An inventory of pollutant sources into the canals was made. Since the entire water front area will be certainly sewered , there will be no domestic or industrial waste inputs. Discharges and effluents from boats will be negigible . As discussed earlier under Section D, drainage and storm water runoff is the only important source of potential pollution. However, design of the drainage system has called for maximum water retention on the land, where major fractions of the pollutants will be filtered out and/or absorbed by the soil vegetation complex. Rainfall records have been studied to accurately determine what will be the runoff volumes and their relative distribution throughout the year. Likewise, the amount of fresh water flow into the canals has been calculated. Pollutants loading rates were projected, based upon studies which have investigated storm water quality of urban runoff. Since these published loading factors are developed from areas aimed at rapid movement and disposal of rain water from a given site, they can be substantially lowered for Palm Coast because of our drastically different approach in drainage philosophy. Both in terms of volumetric and concentration discharge, the study showed that loading
    Page 136

    rates are favorably low for biochemical oxygen demand, nitrogen, phosphates, and solids.
    Solution: Regulatory laws will be sought in order to (1) maintain dissolved oxygen levels at pre-determined values by combinations of natural and mechanical means; (2) maintain canal banks; (3) remove water surface debris, trash, oiil, etc.; (4) maintain tributary area drainage system; and (5) maintain all drainage works,. Responsive and corrective action in relation to established water quality criteria will be taken.
    G. Sampling and Monotiring of Canal Water quality
    Solutions: Representative sampling points will be established throughout the entire system. Also established will be a periodic sampling schedule as follows, based upon degree of resident occupancy:
    Occupancy : 1-25, Sampling once every four Months, 26-50 Composite sampling once every two months, 51-75 Composite sampling once every month, 76-100 Continuous sampling, recorded.
    Installation will be made of a permanent recording, remove-sensing, water-quality monitoring system at 75 % occupancy.

    H. Preservation of Tidal Wetlands
    ( for those living In the Canals area and wanting to read more about their Palm Coast Canals and how they were designed and engineered you can read the 1972 treatise publication ‘…an approach to a New City: Palm Coast…’ about pages 130 through page 138 of the ‘Palm Coast Project’. )

  12. palmcoaster says:

    Thank You Pioneer. The very person that sure knows if the canals are regularly tested is our Engineer John Moden head of our Storm Drainage and Swells for the City of Palm Coast. I never see any testing at least around the Country Club Cove. What I saw today one more time driving south in Old Kings Road to Town Center and just adjoining the southern end of the Graham Swamp are those two newest development the Toscana and the Hidden Lakes I think both gated. Hope the annexation being intended is not to have more of those in the near future inside our beautiful Graham Swamp invading our conservation reserve under the SJRWM now.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you also PalmCoaster.
    The Federal ‘Consent Agreement’ ordering ‘Consumer Redress’ specifically for us all and to benefit future Palm Coasters specified:’….significant areas of Recreation..’ , and ‘…significant areas of preservation…’ and ‘…significant areas of Conservation…’ We suspect the ‘Graham Swamp Conservation Area’ would comprise a small part of the 15,000 acres of ‘Green Enclaves’ for Palm Coast. Again, it is on the Federally ordered ‘Map’ which helped buyers in Palm Coast to select their Lots or House/ Lot packages, etc. And as you say, it is one of the critical components for our protection against a ‘ 100 year flood ‘. Look above on Mr. Tristams Map…see the ‘Ribbon Lakes’? ..that area is where Brigadeer General Jose Martin Hernandez shipped his goods from his third Plantation here – St. Josephs’ Plantation here UP…to the Port of St. Augustine before the United States became the United States….( on the right hand side of Florida Park Drive )….
    We keep looking…and somewhere on Florida Park Drive a family has large square Coquina Rocks…which came from the Sugar Mill – does anyone know WHERE they are…we keep looking…thank you.
    Hopefully in time, we can get an official ‘State Marker’ for that site which would enhance the efforts of Tourism ( jobs ) and Scenic A1A….

  14. Anonymous says:

    Reply to Palm Coaster:
    One of our properties is in the center of ‘The Core’ of ‘ Country Club Cove’ of Palm Coast. ( ‘The Core’ was the name given by the Federal Trade Commission Federal Investigators here. ) Anyway…the city is rehabbing our swales..and every day…we keep looking for Mastadon and / or Wooly Mammoth bones. We are hoping since we are very close to the ancient Archaeological and Paleontological Site of Bon Terre FL 0005. ( FL stands for Flagler County…and the numerical sequence is the sequence the sites were recorded with the State of Florida Master Site File).
    We really are hoping for a Sabre Tooth Tiger Bone….if one is there it would mark us and not only old …but…Ancient…and that would help with Tourism. We’re hoping since it is all about jobs here…
    It was a very good day when our ‘Entrance Monument’ , a Feature we paid for in 1971 was restored back to us…it was a very good day to have it back for us…
    For the newer arrivals….the ‘Smithsonian’ was here and evaluated Palm Coasts’ Bon Terra’ FL 0005 site and found Mastadons and Wooly Mammoths…’…
    it is all about Tourism..and jobs…we can hope our efforts help the struggling families here…we can hope…

  15. PJ says:

    I’ts a swamp, period. If it is costing us money to annex, like lawers and staff time why do this now? Put it on the plan but table it for now. Now is not the time to spend a dime. The city council does layoffs and spend. Poor management they all make me sick. I can assure you of change in the next election. New faces need to be on this board. Folks that question the city manager and staff as to the why do we need to spend this money?

    Get rid of these bobble heads. My vote will go to a new face. Please step down the rest of you council people. You should be ashamed of yourself to layoff and buy a swamp at the same time. SICK!!!!

  16. palmcoaster says:

    PJ I agree with you. If you ever have time go and park off Colbert Lane heading south on the right hand side where the small Graham Swamp sign is in the fenced area to prevent cars trespassing the parking area, You will see very mountain cyclist there. Take that trail on a cooler day and experience the beauty of the swamp, as you call it. You will see the old mounds of huge sea shells, and the quiet forest just interrupted by the noise of a running armadillo/deer or the myriad of birds.Can also be accessed from Old Kings Road half way from PC Pkwy and the entrance to now Town Center. Sign and parking on your left while driving South. One of many things, why I love around here and hope can help to preserve.

  17. PJ says:

    Palmcoaster, can you tell me if there is some truth to the fact that some group that purchased the old golf course wants to bring multi-family/low income housing to the old golf course off lake view blvd in matanzas woods?

  18. lawabidingcitizen says:

    pj, welfare housing subsidizes builders and is the only profitable game in town. That it destroys neighborhoods is of no concern to anybody other than the residents of the area. The builders build and government “compassionates” do well by doing good then they all move on to a new locations leaving the debris behind.

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