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Painters Hill and Hammock Dunes Property Owners Will Pay Extra Tax for Erosion Control

| December 20, 2017

One of the houses more severely affected by erosion following Hurricane Matthew. It's among the houses getting a seawall soon. (© FlaglerLive)

One of the houses more severely affected by erosion following Hurricane Matthew. It’s among the houses getting a seawall soon. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Commission today approved four new special taxing districts along the shore, three of them to pay for protective berms in the Hammock Dunes area and a fourth to pay for a seawall in the Painters Hill area. Property owners in those districts, who are in agreement with the new levy, will pay a supplemental tax to defray the cost of the new structures, to be built by county government before the next hurricane season.


The commission today only approved the boundaries of the district. Government and property owners are still negotiating what the levy will amount to for the owners. Those figures are to be submitted to the commission at a subsequent public hearing in January. The tax would be in effect for the homeowners’ associations in the Hammock Dunes area for five years. It would be in effect for 15 years for the property owners along Painters Hill.

Many homes along the 21 properties affected in Painters Hill were red-tagged, or declared unsafe to live in, by government inspectors after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, as the storms had eroded the houses’ foundations and in some cases collapsed parts of the structures. In the Hammock Dunes area, the storms blew away what had been natural sand barriers and dunes, washing ocean water over swaths of land, demolishing vegetation, and making the zone much more vulnerable to future storm surges.

A protective solution for both areas was essential. The question was how to put those protections in place specifically to protect private property owners without the projects costing the rest of the county’s taxpayers. Special taxing districts are that solution since they affect only those who directly benefit from the coming protection.

“We have worked with all these groups almost since literally weeks after Hurricane Matthew,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “This is kind of coming toward the finish line of getting the agreements together, the districts set up, and hopefully in mid to late January getting the sand moving and the dozers going and protecting these folks.”

The northern taxing districts, in the Hammock Dunes area, affect the Ocean Hammock Property Owners Association, the Hammock Dunes Owners’ Association, and LRA Hammock Beach Ocean LLC, which essentially amounts to Hammock Beach’s golf course. The Hammock Dunes Owners Association parcels slither along the coast starting at Jungle Hut Road to the north and ending at Varn Park to the south. Ocean Hammock’s parcels stretch along the shore from Jungle Hut to just north of Cinnamon Beach Way.

“Today all we’re doing is establishing the boundaries of the district. The assessment will come next summer and will be based on the agreements that have to come before you,” Coffey said. He noted that “the public does go across these lands, sea turtles nest in these lands, so there’s a lot of dual benefit, public and private, in all of these.” All the agreements with property owners are voluntary.

Mike Gill, president of Hammock Dunes Homeowners Association, and Jim Ulsamer of Ocean Hammock had only compliments for the plan and the county’s efforts. “There was no playbook for this,” Ulsamer said. “We had a variety of different types of communities and situations that we needed to address here, these even go beyond today. I don’t think anybody is happy that it took so long but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.”

The 21-property Painters Hill seawall taxing district starts with the property of Howard McLaughlin at 3221 North Oceanshore Boulevard, immediately south of the property owned by Flagler Beach Marina owner Howard Sklar, and encompasses the next 21 properties, ending at 3109, one of two adjoining properties owned by Derek Fraser, the former Bunnell fire chief. The two properties are registered under the defunct name of 3109 N. A1A LLC. It was a little more difficult corralling the needed property owners for that one.

“It’s a tricky business to get everyone on the same sheet but we’ve been blessed, we’ve got a lot of great folks in our community, we had a few holdouts but I think Irma changed some minds at the last minute with some of these holdouts,” Coffey said. The taxing district will allow property owners to get the needed protection from the sea wall without having to hire their own contractor, take out a mortgage, or contend with 19 different sea wall designs along their stretch of ocean. (Two of the 21 properties already have sea walls.) The projected, uniform sea wall is expected to stand about 12 feet from most homes and to have significant amounts of sand on either side of it.

“Our goal is to definitely have it in before hurricane season,” Coffey said.

The county’s resolution approving the taxing district notes that Hurricane Matthew severely eroded much of the county’s beaches, “erasing large swaths of the county’s dune system, flooding entire neighborhoods, and damaging and destroying public infrastructure and private property on the barrier island.” The resolution includes one error, referring to Hurricane Matthew as a Category 4 storm that passed along the county’s coastline on Oct. 7, 2016.

Matthew was last a Category 4 at 3 a.m. that day when it was just past the Bahamas and still well offshore between West Palm Beach and Vero Beach. By 9 a.m., when it was parallel to Cocoa Beach, it had been downgraded to a Category 3, paralleling the Flagler shore during the 3 o’clock hour as a Category 3. By the time it was level with Jacksonville, it was a Category 2. Hurricane Irma was a tropical storm when it reached Flagler.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the new districts, with Commission Chairman Greg Hansen absent. Hansen had taken part in several meetings with homeowners previously.

The Ordinances and Maps Outlining the Taxing Districts (2017)

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11 Responses for “Painters Hill and Hammock Dunes Property Owners Will Pay Extra Tax for Erosion Control”

  1. Facts says:

    Is LRA Hammock Beach LLC in agreement? There commitment is very important to the homeowners that reside behind the golf course property between Cinnamon Beach condos and Malacompra.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time. These people have been getting a free ride for far too long. If you are stupid enough to build a house on the edge of an unstable coast line you should pay for it. I guess you can’t fix stupid though….they keep on building them there one right after the other. Seems like the county would stop issuing permits, but that would not be like them…..they are greedy. It is shameful at how much money is spent on this dissolving coast line. Why stop at the coast line, go ahead a build homes right down there on the darn shore or out in the water. Call those reefs in progress.

  3. Tokyo says:

    Greedy???

    Another totally uninformed post, Anonymous. You are really good at it. FYI, Hammock Dunes HOA paid over 3 million dollars last year to replenish the sand on the dunes structure after Matthew. No FEMA, no nothing. And we are preparing to do it again. Did you read the article?? A taxing district is established to pay for a specific need. And another FYI, those greedy people in the Northern Peninsula pay over 20% of the property tax base for Flagler County every year. If they weren’t greedy enough to buy or build, that means that you would be paying 20% more every year on YOUR property taxes! That is, if you own property, which is probably not the case.

  4. Steve Vanne says:

    If u build on the ocean u got the money to pay for it u should have to pay a fee.

  5. Anonymous says:

    TOKO—That’s all? That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what has been spent over the years. You apparently fail to realize even if it were grant money, DOT money, or whatever…that is all tax payers money—yea, even HOA money is the people’s money! We have paid far too long for ignorant people who build their house where they know in time could put their house at risk to be washed away.

  6. fools says:

    Pay as much as you want to feel safe, build walls, truck in sand, it will not stop the ocean – ask the dinosaurs who tried to stomp around on Florida soil, but sadly it was 95% underwater at the time. If you want, you can pay my enterprize a tax so you feel safe about the fact you’re going to prevent climate change from damaging your property. I can take cash, credit, paypal, heck even bitcoin. Besides, nowadays we all know climate never changes, but if you and many others like you pay my proposed tax to my enterprize, it’ll make you feel safe and prove to naysayers the immensity of your strength in numbers steadfast devotion, and how wrong everyone else around you is. Don’t wait, Pay me, today! $10 for every $1000 of property value, and my close associate Bob the Builder does the appraisal, for a one-time fee of $15,000. Why choose Bob? Well, to you, Bob’s professional services mean seamless transitioning from worries to peace of mind. Don’t be left in the cold, don’t get washed out, don’t miss out on this opportunity to save your property and all of our properties – because with money humans can do anything. Yes folks, it’s true. That’s why the dinosaurs could not stomp all over Florida, because my enterprize, and my trusted associate Bob the Builder, did not yet exist! Call us today for a free no-cost consultation, or for a free DVD tutorial to get started into a safer future for you and your loved ones, today!

  7. Sherry says:

    I see the “green eyed monster” in the comments here. Look. . . we are all in this together.

    Those who do not want to use taxes for relief from natural disasters, are often members of our brain trust climate change “Deniers” club. These kinds of “Super” storms perhaps could have been curtailed a bit by listening to our scientists and DOD, and moving away from dirty fossil fuels years ago. The trouble is that the Republicans and the idiot in our White House are disassembling the EPA and speeding us all even faster towards more and more natural disasters.

    Those who disparage their neighbors, who are victims of such disasters, are certainly displaying a horrific fear filled, hatred of humanity. . . as directed by FOX and the ALT Right. Karma is a powerful force. Be very careful of such self righteous condemnation of others.

    Where precisely should everyone build their homes and businesses? Where is that “bubble” where there are NO:

    1. Tornadoes
    2. Hurricanes
    3. Fires
    4. Earth Quakes
    5. Floods
    6. Crime
    7. Hunger
    8. Guns
    9. Ignorant people
    10. Racism
    11. Unemployment
    12. People of Color

    Oh Yeah. . . LA LA LAND. . . where perfect “anonymous” lives. . . as a “legend in his own mind”!
    .

  8. Paul says:

    Good to know where the seawalls will end. The thing about seawalls is that they significantly contribute to sand loss where they end. At least we can be ready for the two new inlets. The easy access to the ocean should really improve the fishing around here.

  9. Shark says:

    My seawall needs repair – are they going to fix it – NOT!!!!!!

  10. JT says:

    Hammock Dunes’ sand was washed away, similar scenario in Flagler Beach. Millions of dollars….gone!

    One can hope we learn from these episodes. But have we in this new era of shoreline Management?
    After a Hammock Dunes Beach walkthrough, it’s very obvious that the vast stretch of Flagler County
    Dunes / protections must be expanded westward (where possible), not just eastward to again be washed away?

    Build Dunes to FEMA approved HEIGHT and WIDTH topped with dense vegetation for protection. Otherwise Federal, County and HOA investments will be gone, yet again! The Environmental and Engineering experts need to advise, approve these plans…hopefully they have.

    (Take a drive to just north of Marineland in St John’s County…see the way Dunes should be built! )

    To answer Facts question …the LRA Hammock Beach LLC , does not seem to be in agreement with FEMA Dunes standards above, exposing those who live behind it. The Hammock Beach OHPOA Representative needs to push for standards above, nothing less.

  11. palmcoaster says:

    A seawall repair just in our salt water canals, for us not covered by anyone except our own pockets is about $300 plus the linear ft…I imagine in the ocean front has to be more expensive..then the ocean front owner as well should pay for that if destroyed and his house fell on the beach below as photos show…Not to be paid by all of us in the county.

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