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Throngs of Residents Opposing Big A1A Development Fail to Stop Board’s Unanimous OK

| October 10, 2017

It appewared as if most of the population of the Lakeside By the Sea development on A1A at the north end of the county turned out at a planning board meeting Tuesday evening, to oppose a development at the north and southern ends of Lakeside. (© FlaglerLive)

It appeared as if most of the population of the Lakeside By the Sea development on A1A at the north end of the county turned out at a planning board meeting Tuesday evening, to oppose a development at the north and southern ends of Lakeside. (© FlaglerLive)

Countering strong opposition from would-be neighbors, the Flagler County Planning Board Tuesday evening voted unanimously to recommend approval of a pair of developments totaling 190 homes that would bookend north and south side of Lakeside By the Sea, part of the Matanzas Shores development on State Road A1A, at the northern edge of the county.

The development–called Los Lagos (The Lakes) or Las Casitas (The Little Houses)–is headed by John Kiddy of Jacksonville and the Atlee Development Group, behind a corporation called Duval Realty Trust. Approval was recommended by the county’s planning department. Adam Mengel, the county’s planning director, said the application is consistent with the county’s land development code.

Planning board members had plenty of empathy for opponents of the development. But at the end of a nearly-three hour hearing, they had no legal standing, they said, to oppose it. “If we have not found anything wrong with staff’s findings, what choice do we have?” Art Barr, a member of the planning board, said.

Board members said they’d had numerous concerns about the development initially. But the evening’s concessions by the developer and legal clarifications by the county attorney were enough to sway them in favor of the proposal, as did the revision of some of the application’s wording to formalize some of those concessions. “It comes down to property rights,” Mark Langello, one of the planning board members, said, suggesting that the opposition was driven in part by a not-in-my-backyard impulse.

The planning board’s approval is itself merely a recommendation to the Flagler County Commission, which must ratify the proposal before it can go ahead. No date has been set for the county commission’s hearing, which is expected to draw similarly organized opposition from Lakeside. But tonight’s vote only builds momentum for the development’s eventual approval.

The proposal drew fierce, at times angry opposition from what looked like the near-totality of the residents of Lakeside, a development totaling 126 homes: Close to 100 people turned up at tonight’s meeting, almost all of them opposed to the new development. Their opposition belied an agreement that had been signed between the Matanzas Shores Homeowners’ Association and the Lakeside Homeowners Association in May, seemingly green-lighting the development.

Several residents ridiculed the agreement, questioning its validity, calling it the work of a former president of the Matanzas association who had never disclosed that he had once been a consultant for the developer, accusing that former president of collusion with the developer, and pointing to the agreement as an example of the lack of transparency and shiftiness that has accompanied the crafting and negotiations around the project.

Residents also talked of the more recent concerns about flooding, which they say will be intensified by more construction to the point of making it “an existential threat” to Lakeside, in the words of one resident—Carol Scott, a member of the Scenic A1A board—or concerns about the size of the proposed homes: three-story, five-bedroom structures residents of Lakeside say will not fit architecturally or aesthetically with the Mediterranean look of their one-level homes.

Peter Duhart speaking to the Planning Board this evening.

Peter Duhart speaking to the Planning Board this evening.

“This project is flawed from start to finish,” Peter Duhart told the planning board. “The lack of transparency with the MSOA dealings with Duval, the questionable practices of our former board president who now happens to have resigned from the board, our overtaxed waterways, lakes and retention ponds, the density, the three-story proposed buildings, extremely close together, at a two-foot higher base elevation than Lakeside By the Sea’s existing dwellings, it’s simply a recipe for disaster. It is unconscionable that this planning board could hope to recommend to the county commissioners that this project go forward as described. There are too many unanswered questions.”

 “If we have another Matthew and this development is built, are we safer, or are we less safe?” another resident asked. Several questioned the county planning department’s assertion that the development will not be “adverse” to their safety.

The conflict seemed to follow a familiar pattern: existing homeowners want a proposed development that would rise nearby stopped, citing feared consequences focusing on flooding, traffic, safety and the like. But there were a few different wrinkles to this opposition that made it more complex than a mere nattering of NIMBYs—not in my backyard. The Lakeside By the Sea homeowners can point to recent flooding following hurricanes Irma and Matthew as portents of what could happen in the future, in worse, if more permeable land to their north and south were built and paved over—even though the flooding largely stayed in streets and yards, as the development’s engineering intended: the homes are built at a 9-foot elevation above water level, though the new development’s homes would be at 11 feet. Transparency is often questioned in controversial development proposals, but not to the extent that it was tonight, with the sort of specific accusations against a former president of the very homeowners’ association involved in the controversy.

Yet those accusations were soon sidelined as irrelevant by the county attorney.

Sidney Ansbacher, left, Planning Director Adam Mengel, and County Attorney Al Hadeed.

Sidney Ansbacher, left, Planning Director Adam Mengel, and County Attorney Al Hadeed.

Sidney Ansbacher, Duval’s agent, had sought to temper some of the opposition before the public comment period by outing to rest several concerns: “We have no interest in rentals,” he said. “The six to seven bedroom concern, we would stipulate to a cap of five bedrooms.” He assured the congregation that there could be an agreement that would essentially rule out short-term rentals. And he said there would be a cap of three stories, net, on the height of the buildings (a concession that drew no reward). As a final salve, he promised that there’d be no construction traffic going through Lakeside.

Then 20 people spoke, all but one opposed to the proposal. The exception was not in favor of the development, but was making a statement for the record. When Ansbacher spoke again, as was his due in such proceedings, he said “the large majority of the comments dealt with ad hominem attacks” on the ex-president of the association and on the nature of the negotiations. Noticeably, he did not deny the accusations, but said they were “not germane” to the current hearing, nor should be they be a reason to table the matter, he said. Speaking as he did in a deceptively soft and even tone, he then made a veiled threat of legal action “in another venue” if the planning board tabled the matter before addressing some of the speakers’ concerns one by one, mostly by restating his earlier concessions and adding a few details.

“I understand that people are concerned in Florida with storms. I’ve lived through storm after storm. I picked up after Andrew for my family in South Dade. I get it. But the criteria of the code are the criteria of the code,” Ansbacher concluded. “Beyond that I just want to point out something is going to be built there, and what was last permitted was 435 units. We’re down to 190. And I think that the record reflects numerous concessions, and while we regret the internecine battling among the associations, we believe this project stands on its own as meeting the applicable criteria.”

Al Hadeed, the county attorney sitting in as the planning board’s attorney this evening, told the board “that you not consider these agreements,” Hadeed said, “that you not make them relevant in any way to your decision.” The reason: the agreement is between two private entities that are not in the scope of the board’s considerations. That, in essence, gave the board the sort of legal cover necessary to vote in favor of the development, as did other steps that Hadeed said the developer fulfilled appropriately. Mark Langello a member of the planning board, spoke of Hadeed’s sidelining the controversy over the associations’ contested agreement as key to his decision. He was also swayed by the assurance that the houses would not be used for short-term rentals.

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21 Responses for “Throngs of Residents Opposing Big A1A Development Fail to Stop Board’s Unanimous OK”

  1. Sw says:

    Typical of this Town/County Government

  2. Marlee says:

    Solve the problem of flooding in Flagler County????

    We were told to “buy flood insurance”.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    Why the current residents voice is ignored simply because you have the wrong planning board members and county attorney. These developments are approved everywhere over unlimited greed…and they always allege legal reasons when actually the only real reason is that the county or cities on it do not have the proper infrastructure in place to sustain the new housing or commercial buildings. The number one and two lack of that infrastructure are sewer and drainage systems something that really risk the existing residents health.
    The word moratorium in new projects for lack of proper infrastructure is not in the planning board mind or legal advising team…just the greed prevails.

  4. RayD says:

    We have meet neighbor from Matanzas Woods who moved up to the area to avoid possible development in Matanzas Woods and now it appears he will get definite development in his backyard. I suppose you can’t win for losin!! It really would be better if the area was not developed any further. But, got to expand that tax base! Screw the environment and quality of life!

  5. Paul Pasternak says:

    Why do they call these “planning boards”? They should be called “approval boards” since they never say no to more development. I knew how useless they were when I went to one and the developer walked up and greeted all the board members by their first names. At that joke, the developer tried to tell us that 190 homes would not add any traffic to the one road leading out of the subdivision. It was approved of course.

  6. Ramone says:

    You people arguing against this development are unfortunately, ill informed. Property owners have a right to develop their property pursuant to the county’s comprehensive plan, land development code, as long as they abide by any other applicable state laws. You can’t deny someone their property rights just because there’s a lot of neighbors against the development. The will of the people is irrelevant. This is not a popularity contest. If you’re against a project, you need to find competent, substantial evidence that the proposed plan violates one of the aforementioned plans, codes or statutes. If you want to get the county sued and lose a big law suit, as well as get the development built anyway, keep advocating for denial just because you don’t like it. Pool your money, hire a land use attorney and a civil engineer to find something to hang your hat on. Anyone that buys real estate adjacent to vacant lands that doesn’t anticipate and research future development is being naïve.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s funny how once the Boomers think they are there no one else should move there. It all belongs to them and no one else should develop and move there. Well your gonna be disappointed because alot of people much younger are moving there. Get use to it, because Florida does not belong to the Boomers anymore;) Everyone who wants to live here can, nothing you can do to stop it anymore
    Have a nice day:)

  8. Dave says:

    Happy to hear that a bunch of whiney homeowners can’t dictate the rules, what if all the squirrels and turtles had a meeting before u built ur home, voting on not letting you build there? Just face it, people with bigger, nicer homes are moving in to your little community. Dont like it? Leave.

  9. Barbara M says:

    The agreement that the county attorney told the board to ignore was, in fact, essential to the approval of the project. I think we can assume that an agreement that provided for sewage for the planned homes would have been deemed absolutely necessary for approval of any planned development. If the agreement is not valid, the plan cannot be implemented. And yet the county attorney told the board to disregard any issue of the agreement’s validity. This is like saying we’re going to approve a chair because it has four legs and a seat. So what if there is evidence of severe termite damage on one leg? Pay no attention to what you see! When the chair crumbles and someone gets hurt, it’s not our problem. I think the residents realized that what this means for them is legal fees, because the county has chosen willful blindness at their expense.

  10. Roll on 2 says:

    These decisions need to be done by referendum, not by a planning board! Time to put FHD back on the 2018 ballot.

  11. Janet Sullivan says:

    If I understand correctly, there will be no short-term rentals (only 6 months +), I’m curious as to who would actually want/need a 5 bedroom home long-term? Most 5-bedroom homes in this area are built with short-term vacation rental in mind. That’s what concerns me– is there a loophole somewhere that will indeed allow these homes to become short-term vacation rentals that we have fought so hard against?

  12. Wishful Thinking says:

    All citizens are entitled to the protection of their health, welfare and safety above all-
    Developers have no legal rights that override the welfare of residents – uses which are ‘unnecessary’ in the real world have been rejected in Florida’s District Court of Appeals in the past.. A little research and a pro bono sharp attorney should help stop this wholesale county giveaway.
    Our county is going mad

  13. Paul Pasternak says:

    Hope you all enjoy drinking saltwater and continuing to water your estates with your own sewage. Oh, and you can enjoy the same crime, traffic, and taxes just like you had up north.

  14. Sam says:

    Let them develop the area, if you don’t own it your fight should be null. People should have the right to build, if you don’t like it move out to North Daytona!

  15. John Barber says:

    Whoever wrote this article did not get their facts straight. They relied on lies by a disgruntled group of people led by a former Boared member. did not verify the facts. The former President of the MSOA did not resign, his term was up after serving 12 years as President of the Board. The Full MSOA Board approved the development agreement with Duval, not just the President.
    The President in question never served as a consultant to the developer and never was employed by any of the principals involved in Duval. The MSOA was obligated by a settlement agreement to co-operate with any potential developer who purchased the property. All Board members were aware of all discussions with Duval and all actions were reported on at the Board meetings.

    None of this has any bearing on the role of the Planning Board and should never have been a part of the presentation except to slander and blame someone else.

  16. Jim says:

    This is not so much a ” not in my back yard ” protest as it is a ” right in my neighborhood ” protest. These nearly 200 new homes will have full use of all the existing infrastructure such as swimming pools, beach club,, boat club, tennis courts, etc. Clearly the answer is to let Duval build their houses but have a separate development with no connection with Lakeside or Matanzas Shores other then the waste water treatment plant. As. To the flooding problem after listening to Adam Mengel speak the whole county is flood prone and just waiting for the next disaster. He also did a wonderful job of speaking on Duvals behalf at the board meeting.

  17. Sign of the times says:

    We live in a time when anyone can be accused of wrong doing. The accuser need not make the case , need not present facts just present an assumption or opinion That opinion usually supports what one wants to believe.

  18. Pogo says:

    @Usual Suspects, etc.

    A land deal in Florduh. What could go wrong?
    – Who Profit the Prophet

    6The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 7All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. 8All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

    – Ecclesiastes 1:6 to 1:11 KJV

    Scriptural study aides:

    Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, and Trademarks

    Search for Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited …


    Straw men (and women); maiden names, fictitious names – and more – all create a long and winding path when following the money.

    fictitious name….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..7.6.1251…46j0i10i67k1j0i10k1j0i46k1j0i67k1.0._lbiNoppstg

  19. BeachLvr12 says:

    Sounds very familiar to some of my neighbors here in Flagler Beach when the bars (such as Johnny Ds) developed their own properties. I’m sorry that you built your homes next to a property someone else owned with every right to develop. Sounds like a personal problem to me. When my husband and I purchased our lot, we researched exactly what any surrounding land use was for. We passed on the first one further west because of the possibility of future industrial use (as an example). I’m sorry that you chanced it and lost but come on…. this IS a “not in my backyard” complaint and that’s that. Glad the developer won in this case as he has every right to develop what he owns to the agreement of land use without question.

  20. palmcoaster says:

    Our reality in Palm Coast C section when it comes to the lack of proper sewer/drainage infrastructure.
    Bought my home in 2003 of Clubhouse Drive and for first 4 years no problems…then after nearby Canopy Walk, Tidelands, Bella Harbor and other condos were added along Clubhouse and Palm Harbor we started getting sewer problems with every heavy rain storm or hurricane, in the two lift stations located one block from each other by the golf course and the fire station…now we have to endure the never ending parade of brownies trucks day and night for weeks relieving the two lift stations with the mess in the right of way of mud and damaged sod, caused while in and out and the unbearable noise day and night to the adjacent neighbors across Clubhouse Drive added to the whistle and read lights alert all night and day also along Clubhouse Drive by the old sewer pumps that are no longer sufficient to handle the higher sewer flow. So we are told now; be happy that now is the noise of the trucks and the emergency whistles and not the sewer backing up in your houses! Why? simply because the city of Palm Coast and its planning board did not put a moratorium in developments until our proper sewer infrastructure was in place affecting now the current residents. When we all see also our swales and the corner of PC Parkway and Clubhouse flooded its e-coli on it from the old deficient and in need of improvement sewer system never built by ITT in 1975 to be able to handle all the new developments approved by the elected Palm Coast officials and administrators since we became a city in 1999. Unfortunately the greed of local developers, realtors, lawyers, and the obliviousness/fear to take a stand by the people that we elect is what silence often the throngs of residents rightfully complaining about new developments approvals without proper infrastructure.

  21. Paula says:

    “He assured the congregation that there could be an agreement that would essentially rule out short-term rentals.”

    “Essentially”? “Only” five bedrooms? We have had short-term rentals that have included two sets of queen bunks in a room – that is 8 people right there – in just one bedroom!

    If this is going to become a reality, be sure there are no short-term rentals allowed. The effect on you peace of mind, neighbors knowing neighbors, infrastructure and your amenities will be unbelievable. Believe me, we’ve lived it.

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