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Flagler Beach Again on Collision Course With Boating and RV Parking Regulations

| June 25, 2010

Palm Coast bans them. Flagler Beach doesn't want to be as draconian. But what about boats? (Robert Kimberly/Flickr)

It tells you how explosive the question of boat and RV parking can be in a beach-side community. Flagler Beach commissioners couldn’t agree on so much as basic parameters to discuss the issue Thursday evening, or whether to let its advisory Planning and Architectural Review Board have at it first, as would normally be the course of action when a regulatory change is proposed. The most they agreed on was to talk about it some other time.

Which is another way of saying that, as has happened before, they’re leaving it up to Commissioner Joy McGrew to break the stalemate.

McGrew was absent (she’s on vacation in North Carolina), reducing the commission to four members and a paralytic 2-2 split on what’s at the core of the latest issue with boat parking in Flagler Beach: should RVs be treated the same way as boats (or vice versa)? Commissioners John Feind and Jane Mealy think they should. Commissioners Ron Vath and Steve Settle think boats and RVs should have separate rules.

“Some people haven’t noticed: we do live on an island,” Vath said.

Feind didn’t see the logic. “I’ve been through this three times now,” he said. “If we’re going to get people mad at us, we might as well get everybody mad at us and get it over and done with. I really think we should do whatever we’re going to do and do it. I don’t see how we can say RVs and not boats. I mean, that doesn’t even seem fair to me. And if we’re going to write an ordinance, we should write an ordinance that covers both of these things.”

Listen to the Commission’s Complete Discussion of the RV-Boat Proposal
Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

The most commissioners could decide was to have the matter put on a future agenda. When that happens, expect the same public response as in 2006, when it was standing room only in the commissioners’ chambers, and some people had top leave the room because of fire marshal regulations. In Flagler Beach, three things matter more than any other, Vath says: boating regulations, surfing near the pier and dogs on the beach.

Yet you’d be surprised about the relatively small number of boats and RVs in this beach-side community of 5,000. A mid-June census of boats and RVs by the city produced the following results: a total of 130 boats, including 10 jet skis (83 at the north end of town, 47 at the south end), and 20 recreational vehicles, 16 of them at the north end of town. There were also 93 boat trailers.

Commissioners didn’t bring up the question of whether RVs should be treated differently than boats. A resident did back in January, by pointing out that the current ordinance — which the commission isn’t enforcing anyway — is ambiguous about RV parking. So commissioners, after a marathon discussion then, agreed to clarify the ordinance. That process only posed a new question: if RVs are to be regulated more stringently, as the proposed ordinance does, should boat parking remain relatively unregulated?

The current ordinance is vague. The proposed ordinance is clear. And it does what Feind and Mealy favor. Some basic points:

  • Boats and RVs must follow the same rules.
  • Boats, trailers and RVs may be parked alongside or on residential properties as long as they don’t obstruct vehicular traffic or perspective, for safety reasons.
  • Boats and RVs may not be lived in.
  • Boats and RVs must be kept in working order and be properly registered, with tags. No wheel-less stuff on cinder blocks in anyone’s yards, in other words.
  • Boats and RVs  must be owned by the resident of the property, to prevent out-of-towners from turning Flagler Beach lots into parking lots. Visitors can park their boats or RVs on friends’ or relatives’ property for up to 72 hours.
  • Boats and RVs larger than 40 feet must be stored in fully enclosed garages or carports. (That one isn’t likely to stick, as Virginia Cassady, the city’s attorney, called it “overregulation” and recommended against it.

Cassady summed up the proposed regulations as “good sense.”

That’s about where good sense ended Thursday evening as commissioners took up where ambiguity left off, meandering back and forth in a 30-minute discussion over how to handle the proposed ordinance they had asked for. The proposal did go further than commissioners may have intended: They wanted clarification of RV rules, not necessarily a redrawing of boat-parking rules. But that just why Cassady was submitting the proposal to them before it went to the Planning and Architectural Review Board—to ensure that the board was getting something the commission was comfortable with.

Ron Vath (© FlaglerLive)

Vath wasn’t comfortable with the way it was being presented, calling it “camouflaged” in the agenda, a characterization Penny Overstreet took issue with toward the end of the meeting: “I am the person who drafts the agenda, and I didn’t put it on there to hide it. As a matter of fact, previously, I would have never, or your former clerk would have never even put a bullet on there. It just would have been city attorney report and they would have verbally said something to you, so I really thought I was doing a good thing.”

She was: local government agendas can sometimes be the modern equivalent of impressionism without the art—all fuzziness, no precision. Not in Flagler Beach agendas. Fuzziness there begins when you step up to the commissioners’ dais. The agenda item on boats and RVs was not only detailed: it included 10 pages of background material (See the material, including the proposed ordinance, here.)

The fuzziness on boats and RVs can only last so long, however. “We need to deal with boats because we’ve  received criticism that we weren’t dealing with boats,” Mealy said. When commissioners will do so is not clear: they have one of their most difficult budgets in years to approve, and they have a new city manager to pick. They may delay the boating issue until after those two have been dealt with.

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5 Responses for “Flagler Beach Again on Collision Course With Boating and RV Parking Regulations”

  1. John Liccardo says:

    In my opinion, boats and RV’s should not be viewed similarly. As a beachside community, Flagler Beach would be expected to have boats stored on the owner’s residential property.

    Having been the owner of both a boat & recreational vehicle, I maintained a clear distinction between both modes of recreation and always stored my RV off premises in a storage facility where they belong. Boats, on the other hand, within certain parameters – such as size, condition etc., should be allowed on the owner’s property.

    This situation is not as big a problem as it is being made out to be. Take a look at other even more upscale communities.

  2. Pat Ferraro says:

    Madam Mayor, City Commissioners and Acting City Manager;

    I have been a resident of Flagler Beach for 27+ years and have owned several properties in our city. In 2000 it was my desire to build a new home with sufficient garage space to accommodate the storage of a Recreational Vehicle. The property that I purchased, built on and have subsequently lived at is XXX. This property was specifically chosen so that a structure for a RV could be constructed in such a way as to be unobtrusive and not detract from the neighborhood. I would definitely have preferred to stay on the beachside but there was, at that time, no available property that would suit this criteria.

    We travel extensively and when in Flagler Beach our 40’ motor home is always stored inside the garage. This structure was built in such a way that it appears to be just an attached two-story section of the primary residence. Again, this was done deliberately, at an additional construction cost of $70,000+, so that the storage of this RV would in no way be conspicuous or offensive to my neighbors or the city in general. I was also aware, at the time of site selection, that there was an ongoing issue regarding another building in the area that was being used to store a RV. It was constructed of galvanized tin and appeared to be nothing more than a garage in a residential-zoned area. This was creating a lot of discord and was viewed as an eyesore for the neighborhood. It was my tantamount desire to not do this. I feel that this was successfully accomplished as scores of people, in the intervening nine years, have repeatedly commented that they are not even aware that a large Recreational Vehicle is stored on this tract.

    It has now come to my attention that the City of Flagler Beach is proposing an Ordinance that, as proposed, would allow for the OUTSIDE storage of Recreational Vehicles. I wish to inform you that I am ADAMENTLY against the adoption of this ordinance. I, and other property owners in our City, who have indoor storage for their RVs, have abided by the requirement to house these vehicles INSIDE a structure APPROVED by the Building Inspector and all other Architectural and Enforcement entities. I have done this willingly and with respect for my neighbors and in a sincere attempt to protect the visual integrity of our city.

    Please be informed that it is my fervent desire for this practice to continue. I want you, the City Commission, to maintain the prohibition of outside parking of Recreational Vehicles. There are many facilities in the area that cater to Recreational Vehicle storage if this were necessary. Please continue to uphold the appearance and beneficial aspects of our community.

    I trust that you will see clear to maintain the integrity of Flagler Beach and I welcome any response to this email,

  3. AACHMED says:

    Hey Pat, We Agree with you 100%!! Not only do we have Neighbors with RVs in their yards, with people in them and out of state Plates and Electric Cords going from their House to the Rv, We have Full size Over the Road Tractors parked as well!! The old Food Lion parking lot has been a Truck stop- Rest Area for some time now! This 4th of July weekend past we attempted to park in the City Parking Lot on the southside of the Fishermans net but could not even get through due to the Large RVs Camped there! And they were still there the next day!! We took pictures of the “NO” Overnight Parking sign next to them.Bottom Line is There are Numerous Places to store Recreational Vehicles that will not fit in a Garage or Covered Carport area. The smaller Boats or Jet Skis that can be covered and put out out of Plain View should be Excluded, but I think most people with these smaller vehicles dont want them out in the Salt air anyway! The Ordinances are only as good as the Paper they are written on if “ENFORCED”, Example: Sign States, “NO DOGS ALLOWED” in the wickline Park Area, We have came out of the Library and watched numerous people walking their “Dogs” doing their Buisiness next to the signs and keep on walking not even bothering to pick up what the dog left behind, whats wrong with this Picture?? Example # 2 Signs in front of our BeachWalks, Illegal to park or Block Entrance to beach walk, Are you kidding, Drive up A1A any Afternoon!! #3 DO not Enter OneWay Street, be Real Carefull Driving the Right way on South 2nd and 3rd Streets, You have to Dodge the Vehicles going the WRONG WAY!! #4 Take a Look at the Path alongside the Topaz BeachHut where The sign says Illegal to disturb Sea-Oats-Vegitation, The Vegitation no longer Exists along with about 20 other areas as well!! Kudo’s to the City of Flagler Beach’s Motorcycle Officer, we have seen him on numerous occasions either Warning or ticketing people for what we just mentioned! Glad to see Him out on Friday Mornings when the Farmers Market Demolition Derby Parking Race for a Space Starts!

  4. Shark says:

    Here’s a great idea. Instead of pissing taxpayer money away on worthless projects, build a storage facility, hire a couple of old farts and make money for a change for the county. I keep my R.V. at a local facility and believe me it’s a big ripoff.

  5. Clint says:

    Some of the homes in flagler beach are little more then broken down 50 year old “shacks”. I have seen some of the Newer RV’s and they are better looking then some of the homes in the Hammock Dunes area.
    Beverly Beach campground and the adult mobile home community is like its own little world. If I could afford one, I would sell my house and buy an RV, live in it and drive around the country staying at all the State Parks in the USA. No more property taxes or cutting grass !!!!

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