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How Flagler County Is Readying to Upend Bing’s Landing Park to Benefit Private Restaurant–and Political Donors

| November 19, 2018

Where Captain's BBQ will build its new restaurant at Bing's Landing. (Scenic A1A)

Where Captain’s BBQ will build its new restaurant at Bing’s Landing. (Scenic A1A)

With little fanfare, without planned discussion, and with neither public notice to neighboring residents nor a public hearing other than at an advisory level, County Administrator Craig Coffey is asking the County Commission on Monday–the last meeting before a new commissioner is seated–to approve a significant change to the look and feel of Bing’s Landing.

The change, set to be implemented immediately after the vote, would result in some destruction of the park’s prime green grounds to make way for a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, reducing the park’s open spaces. The change would also open the way for a full beer, wine and liquor bar in the new restaurant, though its owners say they’re not proposing one.

The county bought the 7.5-acre park in 1989 with $1 million out of the county’s voter-approved Environmentally Sensitive Land funds.

The change will be to the benefit of Captain’s BBQ, the privately-owned restaurant operating at Bing’s Landing since 2012, and whose owners, Chris Herrera and Mike Goodman, are heavy financial donors to county commissioners’ election funds. The commission less than two weeks ago appointed Goodman to the county’s planning board–which earlier this week voted 4-1 to recommend the change (Goodman was not part of the vote).

Captain’s, which has occasionally altered its layout, is in a smaller building immediately south of its planned new site. “The existing building is falling apart,” Jay Livingston, Goodman’s and Herrera’s attorney, told the county’s planning board earlier this week. (Livingston is also a generous donor to commissioners’ campaign funds.)

The county leases the building to Captain’s, for $750 a month. Captain’s owners have readied plans to build a 5,000-foot restaurant to the north of the existing building, keeping the old one going until the new one is ready so they don’t lose business and more than a dozen employees aren’t out of work. Their attorney says impact to trees will be minimal, and they say they will pay the cost of construction, (“up to $1 million,” according to documents) though the county will be responsible for demolishing the older building, building additional parking and installing the new building’s septic system. The county provided none of those costs in its documents, thus hiding a significant subsidy for the project.

And though Captain’s rent is due to increase to $4,000 a month once the restaurant moves into the new building, the county will cut that rent to $1,000 a month, ostensibly in recognition for the investment Captain’s is placing in the new building.

In effect, while the county claims it is not subsidizing the private restaurant, it partly acknowledges doing so in the lease, and is further subsidizing a private business that pays no property taxes on either the building nor the parking lot that services it, nor service fees for any upkeep of the area surrounding the building. The county, as landlord, has used county crews to service the building as well, and will presumably do so once the new structure is built.

That’s the essence of the lease agreement Coffey is asking the commission to approve Monday–the same day commissioners will have been on a field visit to Princess Place Preserve, another green space acquired with taxpayers’ Sensitive Lands funds that has become a little less green because of a project Coffey and the commission pushed through a few years ago: a set of “eco” cottages that will be rented to tourists and, at times, academics.

The county planning board voted 4-1 Wednesday to approve the site plan for the new building, which is not coming before the county commission. The planning board meeting itself was noticed, but the site plan was not, nor were Hammock residents neighboring the park (or anywhere) informed of the pending plan, as several such residents who found out about by chance told the planning board.

For Monday’s meeting, Coffey has done what county and city executives often do when they hope to draw as little attention as possible to potentially controversial items: he’s slipped through the item on the consent portion of the commission’s agenda–that portion that lists numerous items and that the commission approves in build, with one vote, without discussion, unless a member of the public or a commissioner asks to pull a particular item off consent. Yet the item was never part of a county workshop nor of previous discussion at the commission level, and it was not advertised nor were Hammock residents notified of it, as is the norm with various land issues. Since the change is taking place in a public park, the government is giving the item ironically less public notice.

Captain's BBQ and its surrounding parking lot at Bing's Landing. (© FlaglerLive)

Captain’s BBQ and its surrounding parking lot at Bing’s Landing. (© FlaglerLive)

At Bing’s, the county claims the Captain’s BBQ building size is increasing only from 4,157 square feet currently to 5,200 square feet. In fact, the 4,157 square foot area the county refers to does not correspond with the area documented by the property appraiser, who has the building at a smaller footprint. County Planning Director Adam Mengle said that’s because Captain’s has such things as an outside cooker and other areas that “are not being tracked by the property appraiser,” who’s looking “strictly at what’s under roof.” (See a size comparison of the two buildings here.)

The county and Livingston submitted the plan to the Scenic A1A Pride advisory committee on Oct. 26 and won a 7-2 vote of approval “with the provision that there will be no net loss of green space,” Dennis Clark, the group’s chairman, wrote Mengle. “Also included in the motion was the provision that any parking changes be reviewed by Scenic A1A PRIDE before implementation. During the meeting, it was clear that Scenic A1A PRIDE opposed any increase in building size or increased parking requirements as compared to the existing business.” While previous plans showed more impact to trees, current plans have one live oak and one dead oak impacted, and five palms, which would be relocated.

Clark himself was one of the two dissenters in the vote, and he has maintained his opposition since, speaking individually rather than as a representative of A1A. “This site plan is incomplete,” he’s written in a brief urging commissioners to delay a vote, “without the planned demolition and parking plan, the new septic system, stormwater management, archeology preservation plan, and total tree preservation plans. Any approval should be contingent on a full review of the entire plan and the total costs to the County. The septic system could be huge and impact many trees roots.”

A planning board member questioned Livingston about what will become of the old site.

“There was a discussion about using that area to expand parking,” Livingston said. “At the A1A meeting their recommendation states that they don’t want any net loss of green space. So the hope is, and the applicant supports this, that that area would become an enhanced part of the park. It’s a very nice location in terms of the view of the water, where it is at the back end of the existing parking area, so the goal would be to enhance that area of the park.”

But there’s nothing in writing from any side that certifies that there will be no net loss of green space: it’s merely a recommendation, though the county is looking at other areas for added parking: “We know there’s a need for additional parking,” Mengle said, “so that’s something we as the owners of the park are going to be taking care of, so we’ve got our staff, engineering staff is working on providing that additional parking.” But he didn’t say where that parking will go, though it doesn’t have other places to go but within the acreage of the park, thus almost inevitably netting some loss of green acreage.

Eight people addressed the planning board on the proposed site plan, seven of them opposed. The one voice in favor of the project was Bruce Page, president of Intracoastal Bank, who said he “might have a special interest.”

dennis clark rendering

Dennis Clark, who opposes the planned construction, produced the above rendering of the new building’s footprint. Click on the image for larger view.

“I applaud the county for being innovative and coming up with a private public concept to bring amenities to the citizens of this county and our guests, the important tourists, which is a very important part of our economy,” Page said. Acknowledging that he was in the minority then and there, he said Captain’s “truly proven track record” compelled approval, as does the plan to ensure no break in the business’ operations.

Other views were decidedly opposed. “It may be a beautiful building but it takes away all that space that citizens can use,” Lynne Rosewater of the Hammock said. “You don’t build a park so people can come to a restaurant, restaurants can set up wherever they want. This is public land, and on public lands there’s a responsibility to take care of the citizens who have the right to use it, so I feel like that has been lost in this, because the planning board is saying, is this in the need of the citizens where we’re putting it, and I’m saying it’s adverse to the citizens. You’re taking away their space so the only way they can come there and use that and have that view now is to pay to sit in a restaurant. It’s a wonderful restaurant. I eat there a lot but that’s not the point, the point is it doesn’t belong on public land that is a park and use up enough of that land that all that green part of the park is gone.” She said the board was “eviscerating” the park’s green spaces, “and I hope you realize that because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Though the board asked relatively few questions, its responsibility was to address the site plan exclusively–not to decide whether the plan was to its liking or not. Livingston, who reiterated that Captain’s had no intention to have a bar, said it’s not unusual for restaurants to operate in public parks. “Restaurants at parks is something that you’ll find throughout the state of Florida and in most states of the country,” he said. “Just in Flagler County in terms of public land we have Bull Creek, which is a park, we have Hijacker’s, which is county property, Funky Pelican is at a municipal pier, and we have Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing.”

“One thing that wasn’t brought up during Jay’s presentation is that it would be possible to rebuild on the current property,” Janet Sullivan of the Hammock said. “Yes, it would have an adverse impact to employees. Yes, it would have an adverse impact to revenue for the private business. But it’s possible, and if we move forward with this new building, we’re going to have an adverse impact to the park and to the residents who want to use the park. Somebody is going to be adversely impacted.” She noted that the county’s plan contradicts its own comprehensive plan, which calls for not “adversely impacting natural resources” in its publicly funded green spaces.

Moments before this article published, John Walsh, the Palm Coast Observer’s publisher, emailed commissioners, asking them to table the item scheduled for Monday. “The optics of this item are cloudy due to the fact that Captains BBQ owners, Mike Goodman, Chris Herrera along with the HBA donated $4500.00 to the election campaign of Greg Hansen and failed re-election campaign of Nate McLaughlin,” Walsh, an opponent of McLaughlin–and supporter of his replacement, Joe Mullins–wrote. “If this item is tabled until the new board members are installed it will remove the optics concerning McLaughlin. And it will give Hansen time to consider recusing himself from the vote.”

Goodman, however, donated $1,000 to Mullins in mid-October.

Clark, for his part, called the plan “pure destruction.”

The commission meets at 5 p.m. Monday in the first-floor board meeting room at the Government Services Building, 1769 E Moody Blvd., Bunnell.

Watch the County Planning Board Discuss Captain’s BBQ Site Plan:

74 Responses for “How Flagler County Is Readying to Upend Bing’s Landing Park to Benefit Private Restaurant–and Political Donors”

  1. Paul C Pritchard says:

    The restaurant was supposed to be a bait shop when originally approved. It now is in the tradition of the architecture of the Hammocks. This expansion will change that feeling and give the restaurant government subsidies that don’t square with a conservative approach to government.

  2. atilla says:

    If Coffey is pushing to approve this before the new commissioners are on board I’d think he has a financial reason to do so. He’s as crooked as the day is long.

  3. Laura Shaver says:

    Thought Landon was gone?

  4. JimBo says:

    NO. Please.

    Captains is fine where it is. Just create a little better parking for it. Don’t ruin any remaining clear space there.
    We need spaces like this as the county continues to grow. I enjoy Bings. It has gotten great use and is pretty crowded now on weekends. We need that space for people of the county.
    Have Captains buy its own land and put up its own building like any other business.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you FlaglerLive if not for you we never learn of this plan to take our public preservation lands for private profit. Bings Landing does not have the space for such a building and parking without taking away from the residents free parking space and enjoyment. Bings Landings is a small water front park and was purchased for preservation and not development.

  6. Willy Boy says:

    The article mentions “more than a dozen employees” while the building comparison diagram legend says 4 in the old building and 5 in the new. Are there 3 shifts, or what?

  7. wow says:

    Interesting way to use “Environmentally Sensitive Land”. I’m smelling swamp.

  8. John Russell says:

    If the restaurant wants to expand, there is plenty of property for sale near by, and that will not impact the park or employees. Do not allow the park to become smaller to support a commercial business.

  9. mark101 says:

    Nothing like ” reducing the park’s open spaces” to support a business that supports or are heavy financial donors to county commissioners’ election funds.. Sounds like someone bought themselves a new restaurant. Again citizens of Flagler County, Coffey the out of control Administrator is spending money foolishly. Get a foodtruck, make BBQ, tear the old building down and build a new building its place.

  10. S Welch says:

    The building Captain’s is currently in is old. It’s falling apart and there’s really no way to fix all that would need fixed. There is a lot of traffic from both locals and tourists that visit Captain’s, love the food, and enjoy the amazing views! The pavilion will still be there, as well as the green space next to it. There will still be green space there and the park will still be accessible. The fact that they are not asking for taxpayers to pay for the new building says a lot! This is one of the only waterfront restaurants we have around that is also accessible by boat. They need the additional space. So often when there are events going on, the parking lot is full, however not all those cars are at Captain’s. Additional parking is needed, as is a new, safer space. There will be plenty of green left, but I think this is a great move that should be supported before the current structure becomes unsafe!

  11. Good to know says:

    Thank you FlaglerLive for another excellent expose of local government fattening their wallets. And at the expense of a beautiful old growth spot on the river. I like Captains, there is NOTHING wrong with the place. It is NOT “falling apart”. If it is busy during peak season? You gotta wait, and enjoy nature a bit. If one live oak gets cut I’ll never eat there again, we are lucky that Daytona Pigstand (Now colts) can also make extraordinary brisket at destination daytona, so there is at least one alternative if you crave old school smoked beef. This is purely an attempt to make a few extra thousand a day during peak summer weekends, at the expense of waterfront parkland gone forever. Its already hard enough to enjoy this area unless your rich enough to own waterfront property in the Hammock.

  12. Richard says:

    What makes Capt’s BBQ any better than any other business or private residence? If they want to stay there then leave it alone if they want to expand then find your own property. I bet that I wouldn’t be allowed to build my private house on that property so why should a restaurant?

  13. Edith Campins says:

    Save the park. Let them buy their own land to build the new restaurant.

  14. tulip says:

    Sounds like the newly elected and re elected big money boys are already planning big things for their benefit. Money talks. They don’t care if some of the nice public area will taken for the restaurant., as long as they will have a place to eat, drink and hang out , bring their friends and the owners (one of which was appointed to the planning board after making a big donation) will make lots of money. Well I guess more tax payer money for sensitive lands will end up with being spent on what appears to be a venture to suit their wants,.

  15. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Civil words elude me…Every inch of Bing’s Landing belongs to the citizens of Flagler County , to use and enjoy . Hopefully chambers will be packed Monday demanding a NO vote together Coffrey’s immediate termination. Nate you can go out like a good guy and vote NO or leave your 8 years of legacy with Coffey grime all over. Your choice

  16. Steve says:

    Same stuff different day in Flagler. Properties of the many the benefit of a few. Why dont you put affordable housing in Princess Place. Ohh thatsright you already debuted that pipedream. What is wrong with you Pqeople smh

  17. Doug says:

    How pathetic is has become that if you’re a political donor you can get whatever you want. Shame on this scumbag Coffey who has corruption written all over his sorry a$$. Sellout.

  18. marlee says:

    Hey everyone…
    email the Flagler County Commissioners before Monday’s evening meeting:

    Here are Flagler County Commissioners email addresses fyi:

    Charles Ericksen Jr.;

    Gregory Hansen;

    David Sullivan;

    Nate McLaughlin;

    Donald O’Brien Jr.;

  19. snapperhead says:

    From the original lease the whole thing was a farce. How many other restaurant spaces can you rent for $750 a month? The going square footage rate plus a premium for being in a park that naturally generates business traffic should have been charged in the original lease. Crony capitalism at it’s finest. Socialize the costs..privatize the profits.

  20. marlee says:

    The thing is….it is difficult to find the details of their plan.

    New septic system?
    How many trees will have to come down for that?

    It’s a historical piece of property. I was so impressed with the County when they preserved it for that reason and with…. voter-approved Environmentally Sensitive Land funds!

    Come on Flagler County, keep the Hammock unique and what we all thought it was intended to be.

  21. palmcoaster says:

    I was really going to attend Monday’s FCBOCC meeting against this consent agenda, but thinking it twice I won’t, simply because those that voted Hansen and Mullins instead of McDonald and Gentile Youd now need to go and battle the one’s that they elected, as I didn’t. I knew these type of projects will start coming with them. So to all those planning to attend, please do and good luck.

  22. rick says:

    Don’t let this happen, citizens of Flagler County! Do something about it! Show up in numbers and voice your opposition to this outrageous abuse of our beautiful public park. Call, write, and email commissioners involved in whatever process takes place to approve or deny this scam. Why should the government give what is essentially free rent to a business so that it has a competitive advantage over other similar private businesses? OF COURSE THEY SHOULDN’T, AND CAN’T BE ALLOWED TO!! Don’t just complain and roll over, folks. Show up and raise Hell.

  23. rick says:

    And 5 pm on a Monday? Could they pick a more difficult time for working people to attend this important meeting? Coincidence? Probably not.

  24. Tax payers stand up and demand that Coffey be fired says:

    This reeks of Coffey maneuvering to get Nate McLaughlin a job somewhere! McLaughlin is the only commissioner to be replaced this year, and if the other commissioners let Coffey get away with another scheme they deserve to be removed from office for violating their oaths of being a good steward of our tax dollars. Mullins said he was going to see to it that Coffey is fired and lord hope that his contract is revised first and the golden parachute is removed first. This man is dangerous and does not have us the tax payers in his best interest. Those that have the sweetheart deal renting Bings for pennies can purchase land and make their own way. I would expect that the county attorney would be all over this because he is an environmental attorney, but because he is not, only tells me he is in on the scheme! He needs to go too! How much more sneaky can one get? Does Coffey really think that we tax payers are too stupid to see what he is doing?

  25. Joseph says:

    The way to stop this from happening is to get everyone to stop going to rhe restuarant. This will end the problem! Maybe we need everyone to start a protest.

  26. Concerned Citizen says:

    So here you have two private business owners paying cheap rent on premium space all while padding the pockets of our commissioners so they can get re elected to protect said agreement.

    The county then purposely tries to sneak this issue past us but Flagler Live gets hold of it and lets the public know. Btw thank you Flagler Live.

    Our BOCC has finally shown it’s true colors. They no longer care about representing the people of this county. Their loyalty can be bought by “campaign contributions” from private business owners.

    It seems to me that a whole lot of the “Sunshine Law” was violated in this sneaky process. I hope Flagler Live investigates further into this and asks for records. Might get interesting.

    I seem to recall recently petition floating around from Capt.s BBQ to ask the public to approve the expansion. After reading this I opted to not sign. Maybe we need to counter this with our own petition.

    Bings Landing was meant to be a park. Not a place for an over grown BBQ place.

  27. Bob Smith says:

    Coffey is clearing the deck prior to the seating of the “new” BOC. The RV storage lot proposed for Colbert Lane near Palm Coast Plantation is also back for approval after being rejected previously. The review process for this proposal has also been short-circuited to expedite approval; something stinks in the state of Flagler.

  28. Ben Hogarth says:

    While I want to see the restaurant succeed just as much as anyone, this is NOT legal. It simply can’t be no matter how they are spinning it if the article is correct.

    Florida Constitution Article VII Section 10 clearly states:

    “Neither the state nor any county, school district, municipality, special district, or agency of any of them, shall become a joint owner with, or stockholder of, or give, lend or use its taxing power or credit to aid any corporation, association, partnership or person.”

    There is plenty of case law and attorney general opinions from the last 50 years to further illustrate how wrong this deal is for the taxpayers of Flagler county. Once again, proof that this is NOT “life well run.”

  29. Jay Rhame says:

    I guess the advocates of this project are using Primary Program Objective (e) to justify their position. But I don’t see how “nature tourism property” applies to a restaurant.

    Flagler County
    Environmentally Sensitive Lands
    Land Acquisition Manual

    pages 9 and 10

    Primary Program Objectives
    Preserve wildlife habitats and protect the health and diversity of wildlife,
    especially threatened and endangered species of plants and animals.
    Promote improved water quality and protect the Floridan aquifer and preserve water recharge areas.
    Preserve rare natural communities and wildlife habitats/ecosystems.
    Preserve unique cultural, historic, scenic, and significant geologic features.
    Promote economic development through the creation of nature tourism property, infrastructure, and opportunities.
    Promote appropriate public use and enjoyment of acquired lands including public access to water bodies for recreation activities that are consistent with ESL stewardship principles.

    Secondary Program Objectives
    Preserve green space as passive recreation in close proximity to development to provide refuge for residents, visitors and wildlife, in coordination with the Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan where possible.
    Reduce capital acquisition and land management costs by partnering with other agencies.
    Enhance existing recreation facilities and natural reserve areas throughout the County by acquiring adjoining properties.
    Establish wildlife corridors throughout the county promoting wildlife protection, habitat preservation and migration, in coordination with the Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan where possible.
    Establish recreational trail corridors throughout the County promoting alternative transportation modes, nature viewing, and fitness/exercise recreation opportunities.
    Restore damaged habitats that can have substantial positive environmental impacts with restoration. Higher weight will be given if this action can produce a tangible financial return to offset purchase or land management costs.

  30. jake says:

    Come on people, we all know it’s Trump’s fault. The usual choir isn’t here, Pogo, Sherry, etc. because this isn’t a “I hate Trump article”, it’s about local business and Palm Coast corruption. The circus is still up and running in Flagler County, yet the choir doesn’t have time for this nonsense.

  31. Realist says:

    The corruption in Flagler County knows no bounds. it was paradise and a dream come true when I moved here 25 years ago. The place has deteriorated in every way possible. We need a political enema.

  32. Beth Cash says:

    If there is going to be minimal “green space damage” WHY IN THE HELL ARE THE TREES MARKED?! GO TO BINGS! LOOK AT THE TREES! THEY HAVE SMALL MARKS ON THEM!! Like they are marked to be cut down! WE CANT LET THIS HAPPEN PEOPLE! To loose such a beautiful space to greed would be a tragedy!!

  33. Brass Tax says:

    First off, I hope those opposed to the idea of expansion really did their research before commenting. Although Captains opened in 2012 it has pretty much become a landmark in the hammock and now a national draw for the county and city. I have no skin in the game except for being a 30 year resident and fellow business owner, I know for a fact several people have stated one of the reasons they moved into that part of town is because of Captains Barbecue as corny as it may sound.

    One of the things I myself realized and appreciated from teen to now adulthood is that this city and county will get behind you and aid you in your endeavors where they can, especially if you have drive and stay local. Its a two way street Chris and Mike have kept that business thriving and growing longer than some corporations that rolled through and folded. I believe a huge public parking area is being planned in the area as well as a public park anyway so the hammock is going to lose trees either way. What Captains brings to the area is worth far more than what they’re asking for. We should continue to support and grow with them as well as other local businesses.

  34. Sherry says:

    Thanks to Flaglerlive. . . AGAIN. . . for keeping our community informed of such “backroom political deals”!!

    I regret that I will not be able to attend the meeting, as I will be on my way to New Zealand, but I have sent an email to all the commissioners strongly opposing any expansion to a restaurant at Bing’s Landing. I have long thought that county manager Coffey needed to go. This whole story seems to indicate political corruption within the county leadership. It’s just too bad we didn’t have better replacements running so that they could all be voted OUT!

  35. PAUL HOWELL says:

    First, I must commend the author(s) of the above article. While I got a bit bleary eyed with the detail, I thought it was extremely informative.

    Second, I must commend the comment posters. Equally informative.

    New to the area, but I have visited Bings Landing and really enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area. I have not been to the existing restaurant, but it seems to do a healthy business when I go by. I hate to see much more alteration to what is already there.

    I am encouraged that there are citizens that are knowledgeable and willing to be proactive on this issue. I am afraid I am too ignorant to do more than encourage those with more knowledge to speak out.

    From what I have read, I think Snapperhead may have hit upon the innate problem…….
    ” Socialize the costs..privatize the profits.” Of course, not to mention the environmental and cultural impact.

  36. Lorraine C says:

    As a new resident of Palm Coast this sounds very shady to me

  37. Robjr says:

    Flagler county.
    A microcosm of the current administration in Washington DC, minus 1 village idiot.

  38. Robert Lewis says:

    Something smells rotten in the state of denmark. Preferential treatment given to the political donors of failed county commissioners. Is this really what we are seeing? How can it be that Nate McLaughlin and his cronies get to vote on this before he is removed from office. This is using public land, public tax dollars and public resources for the betterment of a private entity. We are watching corporate welfare unfold right before our eyes. This stinks to the high heavens of coffee all over it. I already voted out one bad commissioner. The remaining three are put on notice that they have to vote no, or the residents will vote them out in 2020!

    We are taxed enough already! It is time they stopped creating winners and losers and create a fair environment and lower our taxes.

  39. polly dunkel says:

    Thank you FlaglerLive!! None of this smells nice! First, we get past the election before the public learns about this. These deals were all made and ready to approve tomorrow night. Why did PALM COAST OBSERVER or NEWS JOURNAL not inform the people? Second, CAPTS BBQ has been making money on the public’s land! Now they want to ruin Bing’s with a big building- again -with low rent, sewers etc., paid for by the public. Why don’t we just pay for the building as well!

    Bing’s Landing is the JEWEL OF FLAGLER COUNTY! It is well used every weekend by the public, boaters, and fishermen. It is a beautiful place to enjoy and they want to muck it up! This whole project needs to be dumped. Let CAPTS BBQ find other land on A1A and build there.

  40. Can't believe it says:

    It would be great if many would show up at the meeting and voice their opinion. HOWEVER, it is just as effective to EMAIL THE COMMISSIONERS AND ADMINISTRATOR voicing your opposition to this plan. They need to know we are aware their shenanigans and plan to stop it. There should be some input from the Fagler county residents before the county approves such a plan.

  41. Ellen Tozzi says:

    Bottom line question, what are we to do to stop it

  42. Cheney says:

    Brass Tax,

    The best thing about Captain’s BBQ is the location. Why should the public have to give up public land to subsidize a private business? Other restaurants in town don’t get that kind of preferential treatment. Why should the county pick and choose what businesses to support? As you said, Captain’s has been extremely successful. Let them buy a piece of property and build their own business. Isn’t that what capitalism and the Republican Party is suppose to be about. I am so tired of politicians who can’t find the monwy to fund their schools or other social services, but can always find money to line their pockets or the pockets of their friends.

    I don’t believe for one minute that people are moving here to be close to Captain’s. They move here for the gorgeous public spaces: our beaches, our trails, our parks. Let’s not allow the politicians who are suppose to serve us give our land away to private businesses.

  43. Dave says:

    I’m calling for a local BOYCOTT of CAPTAINS BAR B QUE!!! This has gone on long enough! That land is ours the people to enjoy NOT for some buisness to profit, They can go buy land outside the park if they want to continue doing buisness in our area! Trying to compare the pier restaurant as the same but that is completely out of line, please dont let this deal happen it will ruin our beautiful Florida park.

  44. A Hammock Resident says:

    So, County Commissioners, you want me (taxpayer) to pay for a commercial sized septic system on the Intra-Coastal Waterway? It may affect some trees? Ya think? What about the ICW? What’s the huge pump station, owned by the City of Palm Coast, doing in the Hammock? I’ll never understand the ongoing greed of some. Just nobody home.

  45. Laurie says:

    To Marlee—– Thank you for posting the email addresses. I have sent emails to all of them! We of course as PC residents, all know how this will end. The powers that be, will stop at nothing to get what they want, regardless how the citizens feel. I hope everyone FLOODS their emails with protests!!!

  46. gmath55 says:

    Been here 16 years. Palm Coast NOT what it use to be. Just saying…….

  47. Upset isn’t even the word says:

    I’m sorry this is the worst thing this board has done to date. First of all, Chris Herrera has ruined the park. When you go there he always has his truck and boat pulled up blocking the walk way or boat ramp. He acts like he owns the entire park. The food is mediocore and I absolutely refuse to take a step into this joint. If he wants a waterfront restaurant then go buy a piece of land and build one with his private funds. This is BS. We are going to this meeting and calling for a boycott of this establishment. This should piss every off in this town to the core.

  48. Angela Yacuzzi says:

    I’ll rent the existing building on the water for $750 a month

  49. Stinks of NY or NJ says:

    Sounds like something out of the New York or North Jersey play book.

  50. Brass Tax says:

    I would put my life on it half of you folks couldn’t find Bings Landing if you were standing on it. The county still owns the land just like when that dumpy little bait store was there! Captains Barbecue helps bring revenue in not just for itself but also the county, city and other local businesses.

    and Cheney I don’t care what you believe! What I was saying is Capts Barbecue at Bings was part of their overall decision to move here after eating there and taking in the local atmosphere. You guys need to point fingers and be upset at the large developer corps not the locals. This is one of the reasons people don’t want to set up business here, no not because of the city and county but because of all you retired, crusty, pension packing cry babies misdirecting your anger for politicians at two guys selling barbecue. If I were Chris and Mike I would pack up shop and go someplace else and let Bings become the feral cat colony it was before they moved in.

  51. KJ says:

    The Sierra Club in 1955 warned that “Both the material and intangible resources of our land are constantly threatened by men who would exploit them for short-term gain. Much of the tangible wealth of the earth – the timber, grass, oil, minerals, and watershed – is gone. And the intangible wealth of nature – as expressed through the National Parks and Monuments and the great scenic areas – is continuously imperiled. The vigilance of individuals and organizations dedicated to an ordered progress of civilization.”
    The most critical element to the future of conservation is informed, citizen engagement.
    And as John Muir stated before he died: “The battle for conservation must go on endlessly. It is part of the universal warfare between right and wrong.”
    Citizens of Palm Coast stand up and defend those special places protected for the enjoyment of all and not the profits of a few. If this idea continues down this path, boycott the current restaurant that is there and send a message with the power of your wallets that we will not be ignored.
    This is not capitalism, this is cronyism. This is an affront to any and all hard working restaurant owners in the area who do not get the crutch of governement to run their enterprise. I bet the septic system for this new restaurant will cost the county more than the building costs the restaurant owner who then will still enjoy a discounted rent to offset his costs. How unfair and un-American this is. Rise up people and stop this fraud.

  52. Dennis McDonald says:


    My phone has been nonstop on this item since FL alerted the Voters of the latest attempt to violate them. You will find the included link/article about firing County Manager Dinneen will have amazing parallels with Flagler when this is over.

    The part of Heather Post[dancing with joy] will be played by Joe Mullins and Hansen will play the part of County Chairman Ed Kelley weeping for the loss of his “Leader”. Sheriff Staley will be smiling from ear to ear just like Sheriff Chitwood. Rick has good reason as Chairman Hansen/Coffey are the landlords from Hell. Maybe then three votes from the all NEW BOCC will force the sheetrock off the areas the CDC [and those pesky 2015 pictures] called out in their 10/2/2018 letter to investigate. What if Coffey failed to build the new Sheriff HQ according to the Florida Building Code he is statutorily and directly responsible to enforce ? TERMINATION for Cause ?

    There are Voters that are ready to run a petition drive to oust Coffey. I am told there are websites now that assist in this process making it much easier than when Ruffalo and I tried to Recall Netts in 2013. Even Netts smelled the coffee [no pun intended] and dropped the Electric Tax so the Recall was called off. May I remind you that in just two short years we may be swearing in your replacements. In reality that makes the start of your re election bids only less than 18 months from today ! Election history was made in Flagler this month as over 19,000 Voters made a conscious effort to find an alternative to the party line. Congratulations to Jane Gentile Youd.

    Choose wisely gentlemen

  53. Kathleen Brady says:

    Am I missing something? I do not see a location for the meeting.

  54. Miss A says:

    Nope… taking down too many trees and blocking The View. This plan doesn’t work. Take improvements to the existing building and extend it to not ruin the existing environment that belongs to the county and taxpayers.
    Save the trees and The View don’t let this happen to one of our parks

  55. Willy Boy says:

    Folks are riled up. Rightly so.

  56. Hmmm says:

    STOP GOING TO CAPTAINS NOW!!!! Dont wait until its built.

  57. KJ says:

    Brass Tacks, I don’t know about others but when I read someone post a comment and one of their first thoughts is to state “I don’t have any skin in the game” immediately makes me suspect of that person’s intent!
    I have been to Bing’s Landing but not for the restaurant, I went as a newbie to the area to explore the natural beauty along the intacoastal and discovered much more with the archaeolgical site and the history of the setting. The reason we fell in love with this quiet corner of Florida was the natural beauty and culture of the area both of which has been preserved by caring Floridians who had the vision to protect the history both natural and historical of the area. Keep clear cutting and paving it over and that special place will be lost forever.

  58. Hammock Bear says:

    Were neighbors notified of this proposed plan? This is historic property and the bottom line in this is Greed. Thank you Flagler Live for presenting this News. Craig Coffey should sit in the corner wearing a dunce hat at the closed meeting tonight. The county planning board voted but the Public was not notified.

  59. Mark Juliano says:

    This is a bad deal for Flagler County and the surrounding area. How can the County Manager & Commission support utilizing tax payer dollars for the sole benefit of private development on public land? Land that was purchased with public funds. How can they support continuing to maintain the building, grounds and parking area for a mere $1,000.00 per month? What a deal, squarely on the backs of us tax payers…

    And, to place this item of such significant costs and loss of public use on the Consent Agenda without discussion says it all. They know its a bad deal and are trying to slip it under the radar.

    It comes down to this…WHERES THE PUBLIC BENEFIT?

  60. Ben Hogarth says:

    I’d like to take a moment to explain just one important detail – this deal as drafted is 100% ILLEGAL in the State of Florida. Please let me explain:

    Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 10 clearly states:

    “SECTION 10. Pledging credit.—Neither the state nor any county, school district, municipality, special district, or agency of any of them, shall become a joint owner with, or stockholder of, or give, lend or use its taxing power or credit to aid any corporation, association, partnership or person”

    While we all want to see this restaurant and others succeed and while the amount of capital improvements by their building a new structure on site are certainly welcome… the subsidizing of the lease and exclusivity of the agreement invalidate the terms as legal under Florida Constitution.

    Case law (Stare decisis) over the last 60 years reflects a strict definition and measurement of what is considered “public purpose.” While Captain’s BBQ provides a quality (private) service and has been a good lessee for Flagler County, the terms of the new agreement would be inherently illegal based on prior court rulings. Not only would the lessee need to illustrate some public purpose in order to be legally subsidized (via lease costs) by the County, the lease terms must also be directly for “public benefit.” The reduced rent as a payback for construction of the structure, to be exclusively for the use of the lessee, does NOT satisfy the court definition of “public benefit.”

    Please refer to O’Neill v. Burns or Attorney General Opinion (AGO) 79-56 for further proof of this:

    O’Neill v. Burns –

    AGO 79-56 –,non,profit

    Another shining example of “life NOT well run.”

  61. Allen L Pollock says:

    Where is this public meeting tonight??
    I assume somewhere at the Flagler Government Building.

  62. snapperhead says:

    Existing commercial properties in Flagler rent for $14-18/sq foot. For sake of argument we’ll use 5000 sq ft. That’s $7000/month rent minimum-$9000/month at the high end. Even at $4000 rent that’s a steal, $1000 is a joke.That’s $84000-$108000 a year…minus the $12000 rent they’ll pay..we’re subsiding it at a tune of $72000-$96000 a year. Multiply that by 20 year lease. We,re subsidizing the cost of that new building not even counting county expenses for demolition and septic. And have been subsiding that business since the original lease was signed. I’ve never set foot in that business specifically for that reason. Smokin D’s in St Augustine gets my BBQ business when I get the urge for some great BBQ.

    @ Brass Tax you’re making conflicting statements… “Although Captains opened in 2012 it has pretty much become a landmark in the hammock and now a national draw for the county and city.”

    “I would put my life on it half of you folks couldn’t find Bings Landing if you were standing on it.”

    If Captain’s is such a national, county or city draw wouldn’t at least half the residents know where it is? And why should Captains be so fortunate? Let’s have the county subsidize ALL the businesses in the county.

  63. Dave says:

    Congratulations Captains Bar B Que! You are ruined in this county! Dont even attempt to open a new place anywhere in our County! You have showed all of us how little you care for the citizens of Flagler. You and your restaurant are not welcome. I will be going to the meeting tonight along with my neighbors to make sure this will never happen!

  64. Percy's mother says:

    Instead of spending precious time commenting on this website, here is contact information. So please call AND e-mail to make your displeasure heard:

    Board of County Commissioners
    (386) 313-4001

    County Administration (Coffey)
    (386) 313-4001

    Coffey’s e-mail:

    County Attorney
    (386) 313-4005

  65. snapperhead says:

    I need to amend my figures posted earlier…sq ft is per year. So 5000 sq ft would be $70,000 – $90-000 per year rent minus the rent proposed of $12,000 per year so taxpayers are subsidizing rent at Captains to the tune of $58,000-78,000 per year…not including additional county costs.

  66. Lnzc says:

    What a scam,politicians getting richer
    I don’t go there,2 times,why should my tax money pay for it

  67. Mark V says:

    The owner of Mala Compra was Joseph Hernandez. Mr Hernandez was the first elected representative for the State of Florida when it entered into the United States, He was also the presiding member of Florida’s first House of Representatives. He was also a General during the Seminole Wars in which he captured Osceola, Wild Cat, King Philip and Yuchi Billy. The property at Bings Landing not only contains the foundation of his plantation house but also several other structures that have not been located. Mr Hernandez also had a plantation called St Josephs which is where the Island Walk shopping center is located. Remnants of those structures existed into modern times and were bulldozed by the developers. During this same development the remains of a Spanish mission called San Josef was also bulldozed. We need to hang on to and leave unadulterated what little remains of Flagler’s past. We will never be able to get it back. Perhaps the Caps Barbecue people can donate money to each side of the campaigns in St Augustine’s next election and then propose a restaurant in the grassy area by the Castillo de San Marcos. Remember the phrase…What’s in a name…Mala Compra in Spanish means Bad Bargain. This is a bad bargain for the residents of Flagler County.

  68. William Betts says:

    Funny how the boys, at least one of them is a big Trump supporter, yet they use crony tactics, to make tax payers pay for their restaurant.

    Where in gods green earth can you rent a full restaurant space for $750 a month?

    Sorry boys, time to act like the conservatives you claim you are and reach into your pocket and buy your own land.

  69. Outsider says:

    I am a conservative and generally pro-business, and I love barbecue to boot. However, I am a lover of Florida’s natural beauty and the history of the area also. It is absurd that a private business takes up half a park that is supposed to be one of the few free places left to enjoy and access the intracoastal. As others have said, there is plenty of space in the county for a barbecue joint. Town Center is still virtually empty. I understand why they would like to have that view for their business, but that prevents others from viewing it at all unless they are eating there. And $1,000 a month to rent, even if it’s just for the land? That’s ridiculous! I have nothing against these guys who have built a nice business; I just believe you could build it somewhere else, and I will still happily patronize it. I’m afraid you’ve just kicked a hornets’ nest. Good luck.

  70. sue says:

    The city is pro business to some when it suits their fancy , but they shut down the new hot dog vendor in the Sears parking lot after a week in business stating you can’t sell hot dogs in Palm Coast , but never disclosed that fact when taking his permit and other bullshit fees.

  71. anony says:

    I know exactly where Bings is, and have eaten at the BBQ place. It is mostly empty the few times I have gone there. They need to expand it as an addition to their place, without taking up any additional county lands. This proposal is a ripoff to the taxpayers. Stop electing republicans! They are the ones proposing this and allowing it, while upping everyone’s property taxes and proposing additional taxes on everyone. NO to this.

  72. NortonSmitty says:

    Wow! I can’t believe the vitriol of the responders here!
    If it wasn’t for Captains BBQ I doubt if any of them would have ever heard of Bings Landing Park, save for a few who use it to launch their boats for free on the county taxpayers dime. It still offers the Bait Shop for the fishermen, giving up at least 1/2 of the square footage of the buildings interior seating that could have been used to generate 10x the revenue per foot if it was used for the BBQ, so they have lived up to the original agreement at considerable cost.
    .For the record, before I retired I did work for Chris and Mike building and repairing their kitchen equipment. I found them to be fair and principled in all the dealings I had with them and I hope they feel the same. I watched and helped as they invested their savings into property they didn’t own on the assumption that they would be successful by providing a service to the their community that would improve the lives of their neighborhood, and take pride in doing it. And they did. I watched Chris get up at 3:00 AM for years to start the fires and set up the smoker before going to work at sunrise while Mike came in and finished the meat and sides, and both worked until closing, doing their best to provide the best Q in the county. It made them successful, not rich.
    As for the dozen employees, I’ve witnessed myself how they are treated. Most of the kitchen are the best of the low-income students and recent local High School grads. White and Black. They are not only trained to do their work, I saw it myself they are being mentored and they take the time to improve them all, knowing only a few will stick around and work for them. FlaglerLive, interview a few of them yourself if you don’t believe me. And as far as the building itself, they are going to invest at least $500,000.00 of their own money into property they don’t oen and have still offered to quintuple their rent. The Council offered less in appreciation for their efforts. What efoorts is another matter.
    I know the area they are planning to build on. It’s just a grassy area with no environmental significance. And in a couple years the area where the old buildinng was will be the same or better.
    I haven’t talked to them or even eaten there for a few years, so this isn’t biased by friendship. And if you know me at all you know I’m not in favor of Crony Capitalism, or even Capitalism in general. And as far as the Political donations and aspirations, hell yes get pissed off. But we all know we live in Palm Coast and how things get done here. Get mad at the system, not the good people forced to work with that corruption just to make a living and offer something good to the community.

  73. Fisherman Joe says:

    Remember it is no longer a bait shop, they do not sell live shrimp. Do you call the gas station down the road a bait shop just be cause they sell frozen shrimp.

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