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Missing From Salamander Hotel Proposal: Community Consensus and Respect for Past Agreements

| January 19, 2015

Salamander's 198-room hotel would replace the lodge, a part of which is visible to the left, above a publicly accessible beach near 16th Road in the Hammock. (© FlaglerLive)

Salamander’s 198-room hotel would replace the lodge, a part of which is visible to the left, above a publicly accessible beach near 16th Road in the Hammock. (© FlaglerLive)

By Chris Goodfellow

Since first expressing my opinion in November to the Flagler County Commission and the Planning Board and with the latter turning down the application for the new Salamander-proposed, 198-room hotel in the Hammock in a public meeting December 9th, I have had some additional thoughts.


There are two distinct issues here. One is approval of a development plan and the other is a change in the plat restrictions on the property. Somehow the cart got ahead of the horse. Whether the development plan is approved, the plat restriction must be dealt with and it certainly should be dealt with first because the development is moot unless the plat restriction is changed.

The question is: does the community at large in Flagler County want an existing plat restriction, which was put in place to limit further development on this property changed? This question must be dealt with carefully for several reasons, not least of which is moral hazard and the continuing respect for decisions of past county commissioners, community cohesion, and future exposure to legal expenses if litigation over this matter ensues.

It is abundantly clear that previous commissioners sought fit to negotiate a restriction limiting future use of this property. This was done transparently and in full acceptance by both parties. This is a contract in no uncertain terms, and it is my understanding this has already been tested in a court decision.

Chris Goodfellow

Chris Goodfellow

While one may argue that zoning changes are done all the time, and we employ our county administrators and elect our county commissioners to use their good judgment to make these rulings in the general welfare of the community, common zoning changes and plat restrictions are not necessarily one and the same. This is one instance in which changing an existing plat restriction might have a much broader impact on the community at large, and in my humble opinion it demands a much higher bar to effect a change.

For serving commissioners to turn over and reverse a previously negotiated agreement essentially negates a previous county commission’s judgment and hard work. It should only be done under the most extreme circumstances, otherwise it sets dangerous precedents. I believe there are very few instances in which something like this should be done. An imminent threat to public health and safety is one instance we all could readily understand. Financial benefit to a private party, especially a private party that knew full well when assuming ownership such restrictions applied, does not meet this test. For me, this is the crux of the matter. It is a question of the integrity of the Board of County Commissioners both past and present to respect contract law.


A precedent-setting change the county commission should avoid absent clearer consensus from the Hammock community.


On the other hand, this does not mean there is not a path to securing a change that would permit a redevelopment of the site. I purchased my home here with certain plat restrictions and I would never consider attempting to modify those plat restrictions without the consensus of the entire 29 property owners of my home owners association. Likewise the path to getting a plat restriction change in this instance lies in finding the consensus among all parties paving, the way for the county commission to make a change without setting a precedent that could affect future applications. At the very least if there is no consensus presented to the commissioners to solve this, a referendum should be held.

So far there has been a lot of shouting and misinformation. Unfortunately, Salamander officials brought a good deal of this down upon themselves perhaps through a basic lack of understanding of the community in Flagler and the Hammock. Instead of probing the community regarding what might be acceptable as a hotel re-development in terms of size, structure and location, they went ahead and prepared plans for 198 rooms based on their needs alone. It is the fait accompli approach. No wonder there is such opposition.

A major argument has been made that if the re-development doesn’t go ahead, then the entire existing infrastructure will fall apart, people will lose all their investment, and so on. These tactics are not at all productive in producing a consensus. Instead of bringing the community into the early stages of design, Salamander went ahead and presented a design of their choosing. Thus they ignored potential advice that would have pointed out, for instance, that situating a loading dock to interfere with entrance to Old Salt Park and putting a 70-foot south wall to look up at from Old Salt Park might not be a good idea.

Yes, I would like to see a new hotel in the Hammock and an investment that creates jobs and revenue within the County. In my November letter to the commissioners, I attempted to make the constructive suggestion to Salamander to consider another location. I also suggested to Salamander, subsequent to the rejection of its proposal by the Planning and Development Board, that Salamander perhaps consider scaling the size back to 80 to 120 rooms in a completely different and less imposing structure in the shape of an “L.” The short side would be on the north so it sits further back from the beach, and the long side would run north-south. It would be no more than a two story structure.

The fact of the matter is that this is not a large parcel of land. Attempting to sandwich in 198 rooms in two east-west towers of four and five stories is going to create a structure disproportionate to the site. Salamander has made the argument that they need 325 rooms for their business plan. My understanding is that they have approximately 125 already in the tower operating in a condo-hotel arrangement. Could they not acquire or make arrangements with existing owners in the tower for the additional capacity if their hotel was downsized? In fact, it seems to me that the existing owners of those 125 rooms in the present arrangement might find themselves out in the cold for a good part of the year, without revenue, if there are 198 rooms in the main structure to occupy first.

It is still my hope that Salamander officials will reconsider their design and approach and bring some knowledgeable community parties into their planning so that community interests can be dealt with and consensus on an appropriate structure for the size of this lot can be achieved before once again presenting a contentious proposal to the county commissioners in February. It is far better to present a new plan that has the support of everyone, including the Planning and Development Board, than dividing the community.

Salamander needs the community support and Flagler could do well with the investment. I am sure there is a way for all of us to be winners.

Chris Goodfellow is a resident of the Hammock.

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28 Responses for “Missing From Salamander Hotel Proposal: Community Consensus and Respect for Past Agreements”

  1. Groot says:

    Flagler County’s greatest resource is no doubt, the Hammock area. Flagler has managed to do what no other county in the area and perhaps the state has done, we have preserved the beach area. Volusia is a disaster, St Johns has preserved what it has preserved with primarily state land. One solution is to simplify this, no more than is already there. The two story structure idea is probably the best solution. Go take a ride from Ormond to South Daytona Beach or from North Lauderdale to Dania and further south and you’ll get the idea. Less is more. More in the way of quality of life, ultimately more income, more property values, more for future generations. Do not ruin what is uniquely Flagler and do not over develop the natural areas in the county. Flagler County or Volusia County? What do you want?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. We do not want a concrete jungle here. The changes are not fair to those who already have bought in the area. It is not right to do take the public beach from the people the guidelines have already been put in place from the past on wanting extreme growth to this area. Would this open anything up to the community or just guest and members? Would the people who live right around 16th no longer be able to walk to the beach like they have always or would they now have to get in their car and drive a mile down the road because they stare at another guard gate.How do you trade off what belongs to the people for for a few when the most do not want it.Plus blocking those who paid good money for a ocean view. Many people come here from everywhere to taste and see the old Florida feel. We have some wild life that lives here .No where on this coast has this beauty. Let them go some where else that welcomes this idea. We already have many vacation rentals here and some remain empty a lot of the time. What about the increase traffic on this two lane road . The scenic route . Granted it would create some jobs at minimum wages and a few higher the the trade off is not worth it. As much as Palm Coast is growing there is room for more development else where. I hope greed and not listening to the wishes of people does not prevail. I also wonder if you change this will this open Pandora’s box to destroy Flagler County Coastline. What else will come.Isure hope we do not end up looking like our neighbors to the north of us and south. Well this open us up later to strip centers along the road for a more commercial look.I hope the people on the board will here the voters and not the sound of money.

  2. Lancer says:

    I concur. This is a monstrosity that doesn’t have community or infrastructure support. The jobs to the area are negligible.

    The county needs jobs brought in by courting and bringing in businesses, in the tech industry for instance, that will provide a strong base. We don’t need another concrete eye sore.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a 10 year owner of a beautiful condo that I purchased for me and my families enjoyment of the beautiful view that was NEVER to be impaired by any other building in the plat restricted area!!!! This monster of a building would drastically impair my view of the beautiful beach and ocean and dramatically reduce the amount of my investment ..I paid a lot of money because of my full knowledge of the restrictions to any further building . It is not fair that BIG builders would for GREED alone be allowed to impair what I bought in good faith. Lupert Adler/Salamander has other properties in the area that could gain substantially from their buildings…Why not go there??? Investors have lost their shirts at the Conservatory due to lack of building and property values have drastically fallen…Why not build there???? Why must they feel that just because they have BIG money backing them they can bully their way where they ARE NOT wanted. BUILD where it has time and time again been DENIED them!!!!!!!! I sincerely hope that the Commisioners keep their integrity to their word and continue to once more act on behalf of the people and the unspoiled beauty of the Hammock community.

  3. palmcoastpioneers says:

    Title Defects there pursuant Federal Trade Commissions’ Consent Agreement F.T.C. C-2854 & ’15 Years Compliance Report’.

  4. Flagler Resident 45 yrs. says:

    I don’t believe that building this will improve our employment concerns. The hospitality is not what Flagler County needs to attract jobs. We have to bring jobs and businesses that benefit all. I believe something in Hi Tech would be a better way to bring a more qualified labor force to our county.

  5. confidential says:

    Good work Hammock neighbors, keep up the good fight!! Don’t let them do what was done by Centex/Palm Coast officials/FCCOC to us here, with the Palm Coast Resort/former ITT Sheraton. They fed us a bunch of lies on t-shirts and meetings and we lost forever 300 resort jobs and gain an eyesore that sticks up like a sore thumb in place of our uprooted tropical hammock, bar lounge pool, shared to by all residents, including the event dock in the intracoastal.

  6. Will (#1) says:

    Missing from all the complaints above is an understanding of the essential premise of the Salamander proposal. In order to be competitive with other beach resorts up the coast, they’ve calculated they need more rooms in order to attract business groups in midweek. That means heads in the beads right next to convention facilities and dining. That doesn’t mean a hotel in some other location, not contiguous to the expected business meeting which will bring people here.

    If they can do it all within the footprint they already have without limiting 16th road beach access, and only relocating trees that Ginn planted 10 years ago, I think it’s a winner. For the few people in the tower whose view is blocked by the proposed buildings, maybe Salamander could estimate the reduction in property value and write them a check, now, or when they sell their condo. Just a thought.

  7. tomc says:

    No No No more concrete jungles

  8. Lin says:

    And if the proposal is not approved, what happens then?

    Would the people of the hammock be happy with a closed resort next to them
    When a property has outlived its useful life, it gets modernized, rebuilt, sold, abandoned or torn down. I don’t want to see another palm coast resort. I love the beach, don’t want that to change but be careful what you wish for. You don’t get to choose which will happen to the property if the proposal goes down. I’ve seen too many proposals come up against resistance — the owner makes a business decision that brings even worse consequences (legal) for the community.

    • Joy Ellis says:

      The hotel that is proposed is not within the footprint of the current building. It is much larger.

      We need to figure out how to encourage Lubert Adler to meet the responsibility of maintaining their property. This blackmail and poor management is a very scary tactic.

  9. Tim Hale says:

    Beware of ‘anonymous’ and exaggerated claims. The claims of a ‘monster of a building would drastically impair my view of the beautiful beach and ocean and dramatically reduce the amount of my investment’ are inaccurate and meant to scare people.

    The truth is the new ‘monster of a building’ is actually 2 feet SHORTER than the current Lodge building.

    It has very little impact on current views and any impact is far outweighed by the commensurate benefits – that is the judgement the Hammock Beach condo owners who voted 80% in favor of this project.

    Lastly, the claim of ‘drastically reduce the amount of my investment’ was disputed earlier this week by Jay Garnder – Flagler County Property Appraiser when he spoke to Hammock Beach home owners (OHPOA). He clarified that the property reduction claims being made from 4 years ago are not relevant to this project.

    Mr. Goodfellow presents an articulate letter. I respectfully disagree on 2 points and agree on a 3rd:
    1) the ‘alternate location’ concept does not work in the Salamander plan because it is predicated on leveraging the existing rooms and amenities that already exist at the main Hammock Beach building – I agree with Will #1’s comments.
    2) the comment ‘Instead of probing the community regarding what might be acceptable as a hotel re-development in terms of size, structure and location, they went ahead and prepared plans for 198 rooms based on their needs alone.’ is inaccurate. Salamander spent many, many months working with the residents of Hammock Beach (including a standard ‘working committee’ from every property owner association) doing exactly what Mr. Goodfellow suggests. The current design is the outcome of the collaborative process. It is that collaboration that has resulted in overwhelming (86%) support from the people most directly impacted by the new Lodge – the residents and members of Hammock Beach. Salamander also did multiple meetings with hammock interest groups: Scenic A1A Pride and Hammock Conservation Coalition. Evidence of the impact of those sessions is demonstrated by the 2 most recent changes:
    – elimination of the proposed parking lot on south 16th Rd (which would have displaced trees)
    – moving the entire building 15th feet FURTHER away from the dune line than the current Lodge (thus enhanced marine life protection versus today).
    Mr Goodfellow may not have been in those working sessions but many, many other residents of the hammock were. i personally witnessed many of the sessions with Hammock Beach owner sessions and the A1A Pride and HCC sessions. I am sure they occurred.

    I agree with Mr Goodfellow on the ‘plat restriction’ point. I would prefer the plat restriction NOT be changed. I would leave it ‘as is’ to prevent any concerns. The Lodge already functions as a hotel, restaurant, meeting rooms, golf pro shop, locker rooms, pools, member lounge and member parlor. The new Lodge has these same functions, albeit with more room. I believe we should simply let the current use be continued and not change the plat.

    • Concerned and say no says:

      I do not think anyone here has stated fear but truth of what it is and concerns and affects to many and maybe be more ways to one then the others but what remains is the people here do not want it. Spending and building more is not a for sure thing it will bring in money we all can see how things are going around the world concerning the economy. Sorry with these extreme changes would change and hurt what is here. It will set up for future of more of this to come.

      • Tim Hale says:

        Dear Concerned,

        What are the ‘extreme changes’? I think that is the key difference that we all need a common understanding about.

        The proposed new Lodge is:
        – on the same site at the existing Lodge (an already developed site. it is not ‘undeveloped land’ as some people were incorrectly told)
        – it is 2 feet shorter than the existing Lodge (there are no ‘new towers’ as some have ben incorrectly told)
        – it is 15 feet further from the dune that the existing Lodge (thus less impact on the dune environment)
        – beach access to 16th road remains as open & accessible as it is today

        What is ‘extreme’ about any of that? I feel a great deal of misinformation was spread about the project and people, unfortunately, based their opinions on that misinformation.

        If you want to see actual pictures of the proposed building & site plan, etc you can see them for yourself & decide if it looks ‘extreme changes’: https://www.facebook.com/HammockBeachLodgeFacts

        Respectfully.

        • JT says:

          Corporate Real Estate giant Lubert Adler (LA), a $19 billion real estate investment Company, is requesting re-zoning of Hammock Beach Club (HBC) golf course properties.

          This is not just a Hammock Beach issue, but one for ALL who live /visit the Hammock Community. Currently, multiple Hammock Community boards (5) plus the Flagler County Planning & Development Commission have voted ‘no’ to this proposal.

          Hammock Beach Club plat 35 is affected…a narrow stretch of oceanfront land that was to be held as a ‘buffer’ in perpetuity. Such re-zoning is in conflict with Board of County Commissioner plat restrictions established in 1998 .

          LA ’embraced’ these plat restrictions in the 2000’s, and aggressively sold HBC real estate under that premise. If approved, land given by the county would become an immediate gift of millions to a $19 B developer!

          The ‘198 Hotel rooms’ are additive to existing Hammock Beach Club Condos / Villas – becoming 706 units ….with only 16th Road as the access point. This enormous mass of buildings far surpasses any Condo/ Hotel room per beachfront acre metric in neighboring counties creating safety concerns.

          The Developer cannot fill the Hammock Beach Club today, thus the new Salamander plan is largely dependent on major Convention Business coming to our ‘Hammock’ neighborhoods. At best, this can be categorized as ‘extremely aggressive’ given Central Florida’s competitors – Orlando, Daytona Beach and Amelia Island.

          Thus, we jam an additional 198 rooms into a small parcel of land, in front of the Hammock Beach condominium building. All this from a developer & selected HBC advocates who have no professional, current ‘impact study’ in hand regarding the effects to the Hammock Community!

          The Hammock Community is a very special part of our Barrier Island, one of the few remaining maritime treasures on the East Coast.

          We don’t need more government, let’s all follow the rules!
          Why can’t LA maintain the existing club with dues, revenues from robust operations? The truth is ,,,no one can answer that question as this is ‘developer / investor re-engineering’ at work. Despite numerous requests, they choose to withhold this information. So, until we have full disclosure they have no support here. If they can’t manage the property and keep it up as they promised members…sell out, let the ‘market’ work in a normal manner! No more government ‘bailouts’!

          Let’s call it like it is! We believe the HBC is a very profitable property! Disagree? ……prove us wrong with audit-ready, quantifiable information.

          This is our issue….Do we really need to put this burden on the BOCC?

          We are ‘for’ Hotel / Conference Center expansion that grows our community, creates jobs, and protects the environment; but not at this location. Let’s hope the developer is flexible and entertains these alternatives and prudently manages the future of our wonderful Hammock Community.

          Let’s get to work and solve the problem….

          Respectfully,

          JT

          • Tim Hale says:

            JT,

            Please re-check your facts:

            RE-ZONING: LA is not requesting a re-zoning. The county introduced a potential re-zoning but LA never has. LA believes the current plat restrictions should stay in place as they have historically protected the golf course and will continue to do so. LA merely is asking to redevelop the existing Lodge site for the uses as today: restaurant, meeting space, hotel rooms, bar, fitness, pools, golf pro shop, locker rooms. Yes, with more hotel rooms than today & larger meeting space – but the land use is the same and the density does not change.

            ENORMOUS MASS OF BUILDINGS: the new Lodge is a minor addition to the structures already in place in the Hammock Dunes DRI. The proposed building is shorter than the current Lodge and is far shorter than the large condo buildings a Hammock Beach and Hammock Dunes. The incremental impact of the 178 new Lodge rooms is only a 3% change to the community volume. How is that huge?

            MEMBER DUES: Hammock Beach has lost nearly 1000 memberships (45%) since peak. That is a great deal of lost revenue. Anyone who uses the amenities has watched the cost savings and job losses over the years. It is unlikely that a large number of new members are going to suddenly appear. They have not appeared at nearby clubs: Hammock Dunes and Grand Haven. That is why both of these clubs have been forced to raise their dues. Club memberships are shrinking and it is putting economic pressure on them everywhere. Hammock Beach can offset this with resort guest revenues. Salamander is proposing a revenue model that is proven to work today at Amelia Island and Kiawah Island. If we don’t embrace such a model, the future of Hammock Beach looks like many other clubs: declining memberships, rising dues and ever increasing service level challenges.

            I agree, let’s follow the rules. The current Lodge site is a beautiful site and is already used in the manner Salamander proposes to redevelop. It is a perfect spot to transform that facility from a run-down, under-utilized one into a world-class one that will reinvigorate Hammock Beach and Flagler county in general with new jobs, new investment and a new reason for people to discover the beauty of Flagler county.
            In fact, the new guests to Hammock Beach could well be just the solution Hammock Dunes and Grand Haven need to find new potential residents & members. Members who prefer a private club experience over a resort club experience.

            • JT says:

              Facts are facts . This place has been stripped of its financial integrity by those you support. Sadly, your interpretations are not in line. A 21 room lodge now becomes a major hotel, one of 198 rooms!

              I have one question for you ….were is all our HB club money going? A $19 billion company who is buying resort property in Tampa as early as mid 2014, things must not be that bad…..so why the bailout? If you know, tell us all….if you don’t then you have no grounds for such a bold request of members.

              This will be the biggest STING of all time if they pull it off…..no rules, respect or integrity for those who have been here long before you.

              And if you consider an increase of 178 rooms minor, that is absurd..your inputs above are ‘baseless’. You have no understanding of this business.

              Anyway, best wishes,

              JT

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think anyone here is using scared tactics here but speaking truth of what is. The truth is the people don’t want it. Spending more money is no guarantee that this will work and hurting the people for big money to gain is wrong. Some of these changes could hurt some more in some ways then others as well as the beauty that’s here. We do not want the look or that life style here.the changes could cause a domino effect no one wants here.

    • JT says:

      Corporate Real Estate giant Lubert Adler (LA), a $19 billion real estate investment Company, is requesting re-zoning of Hammock Beach Club (HBC) golf course properties.

      This is not just a Hammock Beach issue, but one for ALL who live /visit the Hammock Community. Currently, multiple Hammock Community boards (5) plus the Flagler County Planning & Development Commission have voted ‘no’ to this proposal.

      Hammock Beach Club plat 35 is affected…a narrow stretch of oceanfront land that was to be held as a ‘buffer’ in perpetuity. If approved, this is in conflict with Board of County Commissioner plat restrictions established in 1998 .

      LA ’embraced’ these plat restrictions in the 2000’s, and aggressively sold HBC real estate under that premise. If approved, land given by the county would become an immediate gift of millions of dollars to the developer. In essence, a Community gift to a $19 B developer! Why can’t they maintain the club with dues, revenues from operations? The truth is ,,,no one can answer that question as ‘developer / investor re-engineering’ is at work. Despite numerous requests, they choose to withhold this information. So, until we have full disclosure they have no support here. If they can’t manage the property and keep it up as they promised members, they have to go….sell out, let the ‘market’ work in a normal manner! No more government ‘bailouts’!

      The ‘198 Hotel rooms’ are additive to existing Hammock Beach Club Condos / Villas – becoming 706 units ….with only 16th Road as the access point. This enormous mass of buildings far surpasses any Condo/ Hotel room per beachfront acre metric in neighboring counties creating safety concerns.

      The Developer cannot fill the Hammock Beach Club today, thus the new Salamander plan is largely dependent on major Convention Business coming to our ‘Hammock’ neighborhoods. Really? At best, this can be categorized as ‘extremely aggressive’ given Central Florida’s competitors – Orlando, Daytona Beach and Amelia Island.

      Thus, we jam an additional 198 rooms into a small parcel of land, in front of the Hammock Beach condominium building. All this from a developer & his selected HBC advocates who have no professional, current ‘impact study’ in hand regarding the effects to the Hammock Community!

      The Hammock Community is a very special part of our Barrier Island, one of the few remaining maritime treasures on the East Coast.

      This is our issue, let’s solve it! We don’t need more government, let’s all follow the rules! We are ‘for’ Hotel / Conference Center expansion that grows our community, creates jobs, and protects the environment; but not at this location. Let’s hope the developer is flexible and entertains these alternatives and prudently manages the future of our wonderful Hammock Community.

      Let’s call it like it is, and get all this behind us. Then, we can take dues, operations revenues, reasonable developer profits….and this will be a highly profitable property! Disagree? ……prove me wrong with audit- ready, quantifiable information. Do we really need to put this burden on the BOCC?

      JT

  10. Rob says:

    Mrs. Johnson, the Salamander founder, has little to worry.
    If past performance is a good indicator of future behavior then she can count on: Meeker, Revels and take your pick from two others. They only need three.

    Before any vote the elected should be polled to find if they have any interests, hidden or otherwise, with the developer. And if they do don’t participate.

  11. Joy Ellis says:

    The special thing about Flagler County and the Hammock is the lack of congestion and presence of natural beauty. The site which Salamander wants to use for the hotel is not large enough for what they want to do. The deed/plat restrictions which were in place when Lubert Adler bought the property insure that the golf course will be a buffer between development and the ocean in order to protect the dunes, beach and public access. Unlike many other coastal areas of Florida, Flagler County has protected the beach for residents and visitors. I hope they will keep the promise that the deed and plat restrictions are and maintain what draws people to our community.

    • Tim Hale says:

      Ms Ellis,
      Your comments are not accurate to anyone who actually reviews the current Lodge site and Salamander’s site plan.
      1) “The site is not large enough” – look at their site plan and photos on the county website. It fits within the bounds of the current site and provides LARGER SETBACKS than the county requires? In fact, the site could support a larger design but Salamander has made it smaller by planning larger setbacks and planting more trees as buffer
      2) ‘The deep/plat restrictions… insure the golf course will be a buffer…’ – this is redevelopment of the existing site thus all the existing buffers will continue to exist. No change in buffer.
      3) ‘Keep the deep and plat restrictions’ – Salamander agrees with you. They are NOT ASKING FOR A CHANGE in the PLAT RESTRICTION. Do you know that? The county has raised it as a recommendation but Salamander has not. The current Lodge already has restaurant, pro shop, lockers, hotel room, member lounge, fitness area, meeting rooms. The new Lodge would have the same uses and be more environmentally sensitive: further away from the dune, lower building height, more trees planted.

      Can we please shift this discussion to the actual FACTS of the proposal and away from misinformation that is being used to manipulate the uniformed public?

  12. Brad says:

    I believe that the Salamander proposal and development should be approved by the Commissioners. The bottom line is that this development has a lot of great positive economic impacts for the County. Jobs, tourism, exposure to the area for investment, more tax revenue for schools (half penny sales tax), etc. are all huge positive benefits for the entire community.

    We have seen huge bumps in tourism coming from not only the beach, but more and more sports tournaments in the area (a great economic driver). And we’ve had times of no vacancies. Salamander builds beautiful resorts which will bring in higher value guests as well. For our County Commission to not approve Salamander’s proposal would be an enormous economic miss in my opinion. It would show us a Commission that is truly NOT about economic development but rather purely about saving political face. We have already seen this Commission at it’s worse with the purchase of the old hospital, and this is it’s opportunity to show that it can make truly wise decisions that truly benefit the County even in the face of some opposition. Whatever way this decision goes is what will tell us if this Commission is about making the tough decisions because they truly stand for the well-being of Flagler County, or are they purely about politics.

    These and other opposition I have read through have been very frivolous and misleading. These points are more a desperate “hail mary pass”.

    1. Yes, we should always revisit past decisions of past Boards. Things change, and we can’t “handcuff” our community because of a past decision that doesn’t make much (or no) sense today.

    2. Property value impact. This argument ALWAYS comes up with anything anyone wants to do, and it is ALWAYS pure speculation. It is also a desperate move in any debate especially when their is no data to support it. Show us the actual study done of home value impacts in similar communities across Florida with a higher end resort developed near them. If anything, you will most likely see increases in those values as the area improves.

  13. Ron Boyce says:

    The residents in opposition do not want any development. Salamander bent over backwards to adress all the concerns to no avail. Bottom line here is the county staff is recommending this project. They are the professionals and have the most knowledge dealing with the comprehensive plan and the land development codes.

    There is no reason to delay this project any longer. The county commission most approve this project on February 2.

    Let’s no get caught up with decisions of past commision boards, this is the present and we need to move forward.

  14. TheBitterDivorce says:

    Have you ever observed the bitter divorce? Seems to me we have that type of emotional fog over this issue. Currently there is a 20 room lodge. They say they need 200 rooms to be competitive. Who am I to argue. I have stayed at their competitors lodges. Ritz Carltons, Casa Maria, Breakers over many many years as a part of corporate/business groups and I’d have to say they have a valid point, but who needs to be a sucessful lodge. To be sure, a court in bankruptcy can rewrite any and all agreements. Not a good outcome but a clean slate for a purchaser.

    From my observations, Salamader has handled this matter in a clean, open, above-board manner. If they recieve a green light, I sincerely hope they acquire a MAJOR equity position/interest in the “Salamader Lodge at Hammock Beach”. You deserve it. Pitty, you appear to have been tainted with whatever “Lupert/Aldler” means to some folks. The bitter divorce.

    I have been offended by the scorch, fear and burn tactics that I have heard of and observed.

  15. Sherry Epley says:

    Some growth and development along our coastlines is absolutely inevitable, sooner or later. If land isn’t protected by the “big bad government” making it a preserve or park, then it stays in private hands and is subject to the whim/corruption of legislators/commissioners. . . who often do not carry out the will of the people.

    I’m thinking the best we can do is try to keep the environmental impact at a minimum, while balancing the needs for public access to beaches that are legally “public”. . . and helping the private enterprise to be successful. Unsuccessful businesses can quickly create blight and create unhealthy communities with lower property values. In my opinion, the height restriction currently in place in Flager Beach should be extended into the Hammock. . . if it has not already been. FAR restrictions should be upheld 100% of the time! Balance is the key. The growth should be very closely monitored/restricted, and all citizens voices should have a powerful influence in decision making.

    The concrete jungles that scar the coastline of South Daytona, Miami, Destin, should NOT be allowed to creep into beautiful Hammock!

  16. Hammock Resident says:

    There are other options open to the applicant. One of those options, would be to build the proposed Hotel & Conference Center on another piece of property that does not have ‘plat restrictions’. The applicant owns various properties already or could search for a site acceptable to all. Several different groups & individuals have suggested such. It is my understanding, that the vast majority of opponents to this proposed development, at this particular site, see the value of such an effort, if it was redirected to a plat without such restrictions. If the BOCC rejects this application, a “ WIN – WIN” is still available, that would provide essentially the same benefits to the County, and the Developer, and increase harmony, without breaking previous promises, related to past land swaps / plat restrictions. It would also greatly reduce the risk of continuing litigation as balance would be maintained.

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