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Council Approves Rezoning for Apartments on Old Kings Road That Drew Strident Opposition From Woodlands

| September 4, 2018

The proposed apartment complex would go up just north of the Oak Trails Boulevard entrance to the Woodlands, off Old Kings Road. (c FlaglerLive)

The proposed apartment complex would go up just north of the Oak Trails Boulevard entrance to the Woodlands, off Old Kings Road. (c FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 7:58 p.m.

The Palm Coast City Council this evening approved a zoning change off Old Kings Road to accommodate a $10.5 million, 74-unit apartment complex between Utility Drive and Oak Trails Boulevard, just west of the Woodlands. It was a 4-0 vote.


The apartments are designed to offer a somewhat affordable option to local residents at a time when affordable rents are a rarity. The complex will be split between one- and two-bedroom units priced at $663 for one-bedroom units and and $796 for two-bedroom units. The maximum building height currently is 50 feet, it would rise to 60 feet under the new zoning. The complex would have a community center, a pool, a business lab, a multipurpose room with kitchenette, fitness center and a laundry. The site plan for the project has not been developed, as that stage, ahead of the zoning change, is premature.

But the complex is generating opposition from neighbors, particularly from residents in the Woodlands subdivision to the north. It is the sort of opposition that has become routine from Palm Coast residents no matter what the project, no matter where it’s placed: residents, basing their opposition mostly on assumptions and prejudice rather than evidence, don’t want to see apartment complexes near them, assuming, against evidence, that complexes bring crime or what residents variously euphemized as “undesirables,” euphemisms that tend to mask references to blacks or other minorities.

Palm Coast government hosted an informational meeting about the project on July 9 at the Palm Coast Community Center, drawing 75 people and much opposition. The Palm Coast Planning Board, which has become inured to the routine of opposition, recommended the project at its August 15 meeting in a 5-1 vote, again to much opposition.

Prefacing her remarks by saying that she has nothing against apartment complexes, one resident of the Woodlands, a realtor, said the complex would create problems by over-burdening the sewer system in place there, and add more traffic into Oak Trails. A Woodlands resident who bought a house there three years ago said the temporary jobs created by the project would be “nice,” but there would be no long-term job creation of note. Further, as she twice referred to the project as “a giant building,” she said once the property is rezoned, it could become a “Section 8 property,” a reference to federally subsidized housing that opponents of apartment complexes often associate with “undesirables.” (In fact, the proposed complex off Old Kings could qualify for state subsidies, according to its developers.)

“It’s nothing against the 55 and older community, it’s simply a concern, once we’ve rezoned, it opens the doors for so many things that we are just not open to, as homeowners,” the Woodlands resident said, drawing applause.” And so it went.

The opposition before the planning board mirrored the opposition the board and the city council heard only a few months ago when hearing the proposal to rezone another section of Old Kings Road, further to the south, near State Road 100, to multi-family zoning: there, the opposition came almost exclusively from Hidden Lakes, the 300-home development north of Town Center Boulevard off Old Kings Road. That opposition, too, recurringly focused on fears of added traffic, proposed sending any apartment complexes to Town Center, and called the proposal a “slippery slope.” The planning board and the council ratified the zoning change.

The project is the work of the Richmond Group, the 7th-largest apartment-complex owner in the country, with 1,500 properties and 115,000 units nationwide since 1987, investing some $20 billion along the way.

“We develop, own and manage these projects for the life of the project,” The Richmond Group’s Mac Ross told the planning board in August. “So what you’re getting, and what that means to you, is you’re going to get a member of the community, you’re not going to get somebody that’s here to develop something cheaply and flip it. We have an in-house management company that’s based out of Tampa, they manager all of our projects throughout the nation, so when you walk into a leasing office at one of pour multi-family development, you’re speaking with a Richmond Group employee, OK? You’re going to get somebody that’s in this community and that’s going to take pride in this development.”

The Richmond Group of Florida is interested in the area because of its ready access to central areas of the city and to I-95.

Ross said the developer “is not in the business of building things cheaply” or creating unsafe communities, a recurring concern. “You have to have an income, you have to meet a strict background check,” Ross said. “It doesn’t make sense for the Richmond Group to build something that’s not going to be leasable, that’s not going to be safe and not going to be quality, because we’re owning it for the life of the project.”

He described potential residents as “people leaving the workforce, working part-time, maybe not taking in an income that they used to take in when they were working full-time, maybe they’re on social security, so it’s a real benefit to people that are leaving the workforce. It provides an affordable option for those people.”

Higher residential density will bring benefits such as more economic development and an increased tax base, he said. “Spending creates spending,” Ross said.

The project would generate 300 temporary construction jobs and four permanent positions, generating just over $200,000 in property taxes in its first year of operation, plus $172,000 in parks and road impact fees, $174,000 and $193,000 in water and sewer impact fees, and $7,700 in meter fees, plus some $90,000 in permitting fees.

Board Member Sybil Dodson-Lucas raised a concern about traffic on Old Kings Road. “My only reason about not worrying about it too much is because we’re in the process of four-laning that road,” Planning Board Chairman James Jones said. (The city plans to four-lane it, but its current capital-improvement plan includes no money for such four-laning in the next few years.) While no traffic study has been conducted ahead of the project, the zoning change is actually lowering the potential traffic on Old Kings Road, not raising it. In other words, the current commercial zoning designation, if maintained, could draw a strip mall that would generate more traffic than would an apartment complex.

Ray Tyner, the city’s planning manager, said that while traffic is a potential concern, numerous commercial developers could apply for a development and never appear before the planning board. What concerns may be raised about traffic would be dealt with at the site-planning process. “That’s when you get into the details,” he said.

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24 Responses for “Council Approves Rezoning for Apartments on Old Kings Road That Drew Strident Opposition From Woodlands”

  1. Richard says:

    Four-laning Old Kings Rd between 100 and Palm Coast Pkwy is a no brainer. Parts of it is already four lanes. SO the argument of more traffic congestion is down the drain. If the existing sewer system cannot handle what’s already there then install a bigger one. That should have been done previously with the future vision for Palm Coast. As far as the residents of Woodlands complaining, well they will complain about anything and everything. Let them complain and go forward with the project. There are other entrances and exits to that housing complex besides the one on Old Kings Rd. They can use the one on Colbert or there is one close to the CVS Pharmacy.

  2. Common Sense says:

    Yeah, us old dudes over 55 have much to be ‘feared of. LOL. Hey, we might attack y’all with our bingo dabbers! Get a life people!

  3. Jan Reeger says:

    NIMBYs and negatives are always around. Where did the naysayers live when they were young and just starting out. It is only 74 units and the developer’s web site looks impressive. They do a nice project. This is exciting. Hopefully we will finally get some affordable housing. I hate the general assumptions that Sec 8 people or 55 or older people or youth or work force people or any other folks that would live here are “undesirables”.

  4. Duncan says:

    The opposition complaints are not based on assumptions and prejudice, its based on protesting using any cause that might stop the project. Home owners want to preserve thier home values and its factual that an apartment complex will likley dirve appeal down. Nobody wants an apartment complex in thier backyard.

  5. Really says:

    What the powers that be are and should realize is one cant spend themselves rich.

  6. Mary Fusco says:

    Jan Reeger, how long do you think it is going to be before these nice apartments are destroyed much like rental homes in Palm Coast? 55 and older do not destroy. When I lived in NY in a very rural area someone got the bright idea to plop an apartment complex in the middle of everything. School district went to hell, area went to hell. Home values are one thing. A way of life is another. We have enough issues going on in the whole of Palm Coast right now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    These homeowners in the Woodlands would be a lot more credible if they bothered to keep up their own properties so that the development doesn’t look like “crackerville”.

  8. Born and Raised Here says:

    If you want to bring business and companies to Palm Coast, you must accomodate the work force. Not everybody wants to purchase a home, if they transfer to Palm Coast.

  9. Mary says:

    Undesirables?Masked reference to blacks and minorities? No, it references low lifes of all colors and nationalities that are too lazy to get a job and would rather steal stuff from other people, you ass hat.

  10. palmcoaster says:

    We do not have our infrastructures; sewer, drainage and road up to date to sustain that proposed housing.
    Our sewer lift stations and pumps are out dated noisy and insufficient that they have to use sewage tank trucks with heavy rains so we do not get sewage backing up in our houses east of I-95. Adding more housing will worsen our sewer service to the existing residents. Rain intrusion in our sewer system stench in PC Parkway and surrounding areas.
    Drainage in Old Kings road is a joke also with every rain and water makes ponds on the road endangering the traffic in that one lane Old Kings Road.
    The same road as is now, is insufficient for the additional traffic to be created without turning lanes.
    I can’t believe the cheap rentals advertised by the builder when are offering also pool service and will need the high cost of common area lawn care and etc. and pay a management company included in those rates…Just the monthly cost of common area maintenance in small places like Arbor Terrace behind Publix or Old Kings Commons “and without a pool” is over $270 a month per unit! So do not understate a real rent as a sale speech.

  11. 107 says:

    74 Units of headaches and problems. Look at the Madison Green Apartments! People moved out as fast as they moved in! This is terrible for Palm Coast. There are plenty of homes in Palm Coast to rent–no need for this in this area. Of course, like always, the city council does what they want and not what the people they represent want. If there was a real need and reason I could see it, but that is not the case. Shame on you Holland, Cuff, Klufus—-when your terms in office are up you can pack it up and go on like McLaughlin and go live with Landon.

  12. Paul Pasternak says:

    I don’t know why we even have zoning in Palm Coast and the waste of time for a Planning Board. Regardless of how an area is zoned, if a developer wants it changed, it gets changed for a well greased palm.There is no quality of life left in this town, and I got here in 1974. Back then we used to joke the town was not Palm Coast but Compost. We didn’t know how good we had it back then.

  13. Percy's mother says:

    Jan Reeger:

    Have you ever lived in a neighborhood with more than a few Section 8 houses?

    Or does your comment come from a utopian idealistic mindset?

    and . . .

    Mary, DEAR:

    Can no one just make an observation these days without it being considered “a masked reference”, a “dog whistle”, etc?

  14. Richard says:

    @ Paul – and it hasn’t gotten much better since then either!

  15. PalmCoastPioneer says:

    Dr. J. Norman Young, ‘ Father of Palm Coast ‘ gave EVERY prospective buyer for ‘ The Palm Coast Project ‘ this publication: Note Page 144 and his many density statements and publication:

    http://palmcoastcorehomes.tripod.com/id16.html

    OR

    Palm Coast – Digital Commons @ Boston College Law School
    https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1975…‎Similar
    May 1, 1972 … An Approach to a New City: Palm Coast. Norman Young. Stanley Dea. Follow
    this and additional works at: http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/ealr .

  16. Knows Jack says:

    Built it, they will come. A lack of housing is near crisis in Flagler. Reality is, they are coming, build it!

  17. Bill says:

    WOW over 600K in FEE”s alone. what will the city waist all that money on not to mention the some 200K per year in taxes it will then be getting???

  18. thomas says:

    Score: Realtors 7 Citizens 0

    The city will always choose tax revenues over citizens objections.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It’s a good start. We need about a few dozen more affordable housing complexes for ALL ages to make up for the shortage in our community. The reality for many working people in this housing market is that they are forced to take in roommates or move back with parents, just to afford a place to live. The rents are skyrocketing, the wages are stagnant, and the result is a lack of household formation for millennials, which is troublesome for the future.

  20. Anonymous says:

    GOOD GOOD ALL YOU WELL TO DO
    ASSES. IT AIN’T ABOUT YOU
    ACCEPT IT. WE NEED THOSE APARTMENTS
    HOPEFULLY THEY BUILD .MORE
    REALLY GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO
    CRY ABOUT. BOO HOO
    BRING IT ALOT OF THEM

  21. Jack says:

    I attended this meeting and this was not the only housing complex project approved. One project called the Major Project Plan “American Village” is currently being cleared for building on Pritchard located off Whiteview Drive. The plan calls for multihousing 210 homes, 45′ to 50′ wide lots. This area also has a sewage problem. They are packing them in like sardines.

  22. Flagler County Citizen says:

    This is great for our county! Affordable housing allows people to consume with a decent quality of life. It’s good for local business, good for attracting new job growth. It’s fantastic. It frees up housing in town for able-bodied, full time working people, and we need those people in our county to stay! They can’t afford to stay, and that’s not too great for business nor for attracting job creators.

  23. palmcoaster says:

    Jack now I see why the manager is wasting all those millions destroying and redoing the White View Parkway in our pockets….in something needed for that new “American Village” incoming project. Never mind that we have insufficient sewage infrastructure to sustain that project. Lets keep up with the stench and e-coli in our swales and streets every time it rains.

  24. mark101 says:

    More slumlord properties to devalue the homes around this apartment location. The only win-win is the rent collected and hell with the homeowners.

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