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Divided County Commission Approves Captain’s BBQ Lease That Will Reshape Bing’s Landing

| November 19, 2018

The commission chambers filled up this evening as had not been the case since a land-use issue in 2015. (© FlaglerLive)

The commission chambers filled up this evening as had not been the case since a land-use issue in 2015. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Commission in a 3-2 vote this evening approved altering its lease with Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing, the county park in the Hammock, enabling Captain’s to build a new, exclusive, 5,000-square-foot, 31-foot-high restaurant in the focal center of the park.

The vote followed sustained, pleading and at times indignant opposition over a “rush to judgment,” but also equally sustained and enthusiastic support for the restaurant, its pair of owners and what was portrayed as the added value it brings to the park–as a destination restaurant and as a structure to be donated to the county.

The final tally was 19 speakers for, 22 opposed from a chamber that had not been that full since 2015, when a land-use issue involving the now-defunct Sea Ray Boats plant off Colbert Lane filled the chambers and required overflow to be moved to the chamber’s mezzanine. There was overflow again this evening, though unlike 2015, tempers were largely in check. There were a few outbursts from the audience immediately after the vote.

The commission was equally divided, with Commissioners Greg Hansen, Nate McLaughlin and Dave Sullivan voting to approve the lease and Donald O’Brien and Charlie Ericksen voting to delay approval pending further discussions. It is McLaughlin’s last consequential vote as a commissioner: he lost his re-election bid to Joe Mullins, who will be seated Tuesday. “I do not support loading an agenda or rushing things one day before I take office,” Mullins told commissioners at the beginning of the meeting, clearly to deaf ears. (In an email to local media after the vote, Mullins called the commission’s action a “stunt,” and said “this type of deception will be met with a strong fight in the future.”)

The plan will permanently alter the complexion of the 7.5-acre park, acquired in 1989 for $1 million with funds out of the county’s voter-approved Environmentally Sensitive Lands trust: The new building will replace the restaurant’s existing and decaying location currently tucked in a more dissimulated part of the park to the south.

Captain’s will build the new restaurant at its own expense and turn the 150-seat structure over to county ownership when it’s completed in late 2019 or 2020. It will assume maintenance and insurance costs through the end of lease, which was extended to 21 years, potentially to 26 years, but will pay no property taxes and no impact fees, and will benefit from a lease that locks in a $1,000-a-month rent for five years. (Unlike Flagler Beach’s lease with the Funky Pelican, the restaurant on the city’s pier, Flagler has no provision requiring Captain’s to pay a share of its revenue, beyond rent, to the county.) The lease also opens the way to a full bar, though Captain’s owners say they have no intention of going down that road, and may add four boat slips for restaurant patrons boating along the Intracoastal.

The area of Bing's Landing park that will give way to the new Captain's BBQ. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The area of Bing’s Landing park that will give way to the new Captain’s BBQ. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The county will demolish the older building at its own expense and reconfigure the park for more parking, a new septic system and more green space in place of the old building, though none of those costs have been submitted to the commission. The county also never submitted an estimated cost of repairing or rebuilding the restaurant in its current location. Nor has it produced any documentation showing that the current structure was unsafe.

Few, if any people speaking against the plan had an issue with Captain’s, a popular restaurant, or against the dynamism it has generated at and around Bing’s. But the process surrounding the last-minute unveiling of the lease rankled its opponents as much what they see as the project’s heavy-handed footprint. Yet proponents of the plan repeatedly claimed, falsely, that its opponents were aiming to “knock down” Captain’s just as it has become successful.

County Administrator Craig Coffey was in discussions with Captain’s lease holders since last spring on the project, but did not submit the new lease proposal to the commission until last Friday, and did not present the lease to the Scenic A1A Committee earlier this month, when the committee voted 7-2 to support the plan. Committee members now say most will have voted against the plan had they seen the lease.

Most of the nearly two dozen people who spoke against the lease approval tonight echoed Dennis Bayer, the Flagler Beach attorney who chaired the Environmentally Sensitive Lands committee in 1989 when the county bought Bing’s. Bayer said he had no issues with the restaurant, but the deal raised too many unanswered questions. “Is this a fair lease to the county?” he asked.

Chris Herrera and Mike Goodman, who’ve held the lease since 2012, have been framing the deal as a donation to the county, as as “giving back,” in Herrera’s words. One of the opponents of the deal ridiculed the suggestion, telling commissioners that given the county’s generous subsidies, “you are actually financing it because the rent you are charging is just not suitable.” (Goodman had welcomed people walking into the meeting before 5 p.m. by handing out Captain’s BBQ buttons.) 

But the lease-holders, particularly Herrera, who’s well-known in the fishing community and whose environmental stewardship was a recurring point this evening, were credited by their supporters for running a strong, popular business willing to make a substantial donation to the county. Supporters said fixing the existing building “doesn’t make sense, that the restaurant brings in tourists who otherwise would never visit Bing’s or the county, that it generates sales tax as a successful business, and that “where it’s going to go to is the least usable part of the park currently,” as one supporter described the empty space where it would go. “As a taxpayer, I’d rather they build the building than I build it,”  he said.

Coffey, the county administrator, opened what would prove to be a nearly three-hour segment of tonight’s meeting to impress on the commission that the building “is no longer salvageable without building from scratch,” at a cost he could not provide. (He said other locations were considered, including replacing an existing pavilion with the restaurant so as to avoid any disruptions to existing green space. “That’s our most popular pavilion in all of Flagler County because it has  open fields next to it,” Coffey said, seemingly overlooking the irony that Captain’s would eventually block that open space. He said Captain’s will be responsible for providing 25 trees, yielding a net gain in trees at the park.

Commissioner Don O’Brien questioned how, when the restaurant boasted of $300,000 in improvements just a few years ago, structural problems could be so severe now as to require the whole building to be scrapped. “We weren’t addressing any structural problems, per se,” Coffey said.

Commissioners voted at 8:40 p.m., with much of their agenda still ahead. 

75 Responses for “Divided County Commission Approves Captain’s BBQ Lease That Will Reshape Bing’s Landing”

  1. Violet says:

    What a travesty. I am going to be ill.

  2. Rick Belhumeur says:

    This agreement stinks. I’m not against public/private partnerships by any means, however this lease that was approved is an awful agreement by the County. The County residents will be stuck with it for a quarter century… long after most of those that approved it will be here. Liquor will eventually be at this establishment which will equate to higher profit margins that should be shared with the County after meeting established dollar $ thresholds. Even Flagler Beach was smart enough to do that when the Funky Pelican lease was created. This lease hasn’t been thoroughly thought through by those that created it.

  3. Why says:

    Look at what will be at the county’s expense? What is wrong with these commissioners? Boycott this place.

  4. Will Hazz says:

    Coffey is working hard to catch Jim Landon’s Prima Donna stature. And apparently, this commission adores him. Sucks to be us.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    Good grief to all of those opponents that voted Hansen back into the commission…You got what you voted for.

  6. Dennis McDonald says:

    At this hearing NEVER was there a discussion of competitive bids being sought, Problem ?

  7. Robert Lewis says:

    Hansen and MacLaughin voting for their political donors. Shame on both of these men. They have absolutely no shame. And for Dave Sullivan to tote the party line for probably a free lunch. Shame on these men for selling out the tax payers.

  8. Hammock Bear says:

    How many old oak trees will be removed for more parking? Since the building is in such a bad state, would there be a law that would require it be rebuilt on the same space? Certainly hope the Old Florida style will remain. Will there be a bait and tackle shop too? Good ole boy tomfoolery. What a shame.

  9. Grateful dad says:

    What about the boat launch that requires dockage until you move your truck and trailer out of the way. Where do you tie up your boat while you park? There isn’t enough dockage space available to support the smaller version of this restaurant. Every summer weekend the basin is full of boaters eating lunch inside, perhaps they should monitor channel 16 for take out orders so dock space remains available for vessel launching. Us hammokians are gonna be pissed the hell off, guess we won’t be eating here.

  10. MarkingTheDays says:

    Captain’s BBQ just made my no-fly list.

  11. Dave says:

    Disgusting! I will never eat at this pethatic excuse for a restaurant. Flagler county is a corrupt county being taken advantage of by the very ones meant to better it. I hope they fail miserably at all things. Florida deserves better than this. The people of Flagler Desevre better.

  12. Realist says:

    Makes me glad I voted to get rid of McLaughlin. He was always bad for Flagler and his last act of stupidity underscores the point.

  13. Pam says:

    A great win for Flagler County, the Hammock and taxpayers of Flagler County. Captains brings tourism and revenue to Flagler County. The new building (entirely funded by Captains) will have little negative impact to the Park and opens up a new more beautiful area and view to be used by users of the Park. Thank you Flagler County Commissioners for seeing the great benefit this project will provide.

  14. Rita Salazar says:

    This is ridiculous Bings Landing was donated by miss Bing herself to be as a park nonprofit building to allow locals and other individuals to come and enjoy the park have a place to launch your boat hang out at The Pavilions what in the world now there is a restaurant who only had to pay $750 a month didn’t have to cut the grass then not have to pay the taxes they did not put and because they made a huge donation to the political Commissioners and now they’re entitled to have waterfront property on 7.5 Acres of a park who does that how much would that piece of property cost you if you are living on the water every month and with your taxes so we not only paid a cut their grass we pay them to be there we all do each person in the hammock what’s wrong is you have people who didn’t grow up there don’t really know the history of it they don’t care they just come down here and eliminate you don’t spread it out that’s not right they are allowed to 368 hundred thousand dollars a year and they don’t have to pay the taxes on it Waterfront and they don’t have to pay for it..No I don’t think it’s a good idea..No Restaurant..There are plenty of Restaurants in the Hammock and they pay their share of taxes impact fees..STOP…

  15. Really says:

    Will Never visit

  16. Rick says:

    “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot?” Joni Mitchell

    Unbelievable. Revolting.

  17. Tax Payer says:

    And to think, voters voted Hansen back in office and Sullivan, Ericksen and O Brien didn’t give a rats ass about the people present or Bings beauty. This is a travesty. This is evidence that it doesn’t matter if people go to meetings or not, they are ignored. This is evidence that this was a sweet heart deal for the benefit of McLaughliln–who is looking for employment. I agree with others, we all ban Bings and not eat at this location. It was Joan Affatato that questioned former Chair Barbara Revels, who has a real estate business, about the cheap rent. It’s not what you know, it is about who you know Craig Coffey needs to go. We can only hope that his scheming with the old hospital will bring forth criminal charges against him and he will get what he deserves. I hope there is some way the Miullins can bring this all back up at the next meeting and recall this mess and stop it. Mullins, you made promises, I sure hope you will keep them.

  18. marlee says:

    19 speakers FOR this??? You’ve got to be kidding?!

  19. Jay Rhame says:

    This decision reminds me of a passage from John D. MacDonald’s, A Flash Of Green (1962).

    “Once upon a time there was a mountain peak with a wonderful view, so that people came from all over to stand on top of the mountain and look out. The village at the foot of the mountain charged a dollar a head to all tourists. But so few of them could stand on top of the mountain at the same time, they leveled the top of the mountain to provide more room and increase the take. This seemed to work, so they kept enlarging the area on top of the mountain. Finally they had a place up there that would accommodate ten thousand people, but by then the mountain was only forty feet high, and suddenly everybody stopped coming to see the view. This convinced them people were tired of views, so in the name of Progress and Tourist Economy, they turned the flatened mountain into a carnival area, and every night you could see the lights and hear the music for miles around. They still attracted customers, but it was the kind of people who like carnivals instead of the kind of people who like beauty.”

  20. Coyote says:

    Did Coffey hire Jim Landon as a personal assistant? His methods and tactics sure seem like it.

    And you gotta love the Scenic A1A Committee – “Committee members now say most will have voted against the plan had they seen the lease.” Then WHY? did you vote to support it last month without seeing the lease?

  21. Kathy says:

    Such a shame that commercialism is taking over a piece of our history and one of the favorite parks that my husband and our family enjoy visiting. It’s all about greed.

  22. Can't believe it says:

    We can only hope that Joe Mullins will put this run amuck administration and commission in check, starting today.

  23. Vinny says:

    Goodbye Bings…..I will NEVER visit this place again. I HATE BBQ !!!!

  24. Richard says:

    This was a “done deal” even before this meeting. Perfect display of local government corruption and non-transparency. Politicians are bred and trained at the local level and by the time they get to Washington they are experts in concealing corruption.

  25. capt says:

    And so it continues, the fleecing of Flagler County by Craig Coffey. a pure indication that he needs to go. How much money is this man going to spend at the taxpayers expense to satisfy his own personal agenda. .

  26. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thank you Flagler County BOCC for destroying a beautiful park. I have eaten at this place a couple of times and was never impressed.

    We all know you approved it because Coffey is crooked and the commissioners are receiving “campaign contributions”


  27. snapperhead says:

    It was quite clear early in the meeting that McLaughlin was going to vote for it. And the supporters claiming Captain’s is such a huge draw for tourists in the area was laughable. For the whole time they’ve been open,until the last few months, I managed a local business, 90% of it’s customers were tourists, spoke to dozens if not more a day. Not once, ever, did anyone ever ask me where Captain’s BBQ is. Princess Place.. sure, Ag Museum..all the time local golf courses… now and then…Golden Corral..almost daily
    The owners are probably good people and have done a good job building a business but that doesn’t make it right to use taxpayer money so directly to benefit one business. The rest of the hogwash how this benefits the whole community is BS. There’s no legitimate reason this couldn’t have waited until they got all the costs associated with it. Like everything King Coffey gets his marionettes to approve this will be a much more expensive venture than people realize, count on it.

  28. Florida voter says:

    I’ve made comments to this effect before, but it needs to be made again:

    Can someone PLEASE investigate the Commissioners’ ties to this deal? Are they getting direct support from those involved on the Captain’s BBQ side? (Yes, but does it constitute bribery?) What companies are going to be used for this $1,000,000+ project and are how are those companies linked to our Commissioners?

    Do we have County regulations requiring a cost estimate before a vote? (Apparently not.) Do we have County regulations requiring a bidding process on something like this (septic, parking, and demolition of the old building on the County’s $$)? If we do have a bidding process, is it skewed toward a few select companies that it virtually guarantees those companies will win the bids? Too many projects in Palm Coast/Flagler County don’t pass the “sniff test.”

  29. Hmmm says:

    Pam said “Captains brings tourism…”!!! Yeah, like people are talking about Captains in Colorado right now. Its just an ole bbq shack. Lets just put a dave and busters there as well.

  30. tulip says:

    I watched the meeting on tv last night and agreed with every one that spoke against it. They all had good valid reasons and the real estate person who got up and gave the financial analysis of how it will actually cost Flagler County hundreds of thousands of dollars to allow this deal to go through. Hold on to your hats folks, this is only the beginning.

    The only person who had the concern and common sense about discussing all the pros and cons, financial options, etc at workshops was Mr. Obrien. He has been the only one to see both sides of an issue on this board. Erickson did vote no, to his credit. End result is McLaughlin is out, but left a very bad image in a lot of people’s minds. Hansen and Mullins who are good buddies and Sullivan will probably be the “clique” .Gee, it didn’t take long for one of the “big donors” and a vested interest in the business to get appointed to the planning board. He sure is going to be totally approving of the plans and some of his “generosity” to the campaigns is now getting repaid.

    Mr Peterson and someone else said in their comments something to the effect that this was no emergency that this decision had to be quickly made tonight, I totally agree. This was planned and going to happen. McLaughlin is trying to weasel his way into something, so has to cater the those who can do the most for him .

    At least I have the peace of mind knowing that I didn’t vote for either Hansen or McLaughlin.

  31. fiscal says:

    re Can’t believe it says:

    I foresee Mullins doing even WORSE. He has no principles
    Good luck, Flagler County…You are going to need it!

  32. Wow says:

    Well played Capt BBQ. Now we subsidize your business and you walk away with the profits. No property taxes? Good grief.

  33. Never says:

    I love BBQ and USED to visit Captains regularly until today. I will never go there again and I will leave negative feedback about the restaurant on every website I can find

  34. Diane J Cline says:

    I find it interesting that this group also spearheaded opposition to the salt marsh restoration. The group performing the work has made a lot of concessions to achieve harmony and yet they remain at a hardline no. Very interesting.

  35. Brass Tax says:

    @ snapperhead Of course no one asked YOU where Captains was, TripAdvisor gave them all the info they needed.

  36. Just the facts says:

    You get what you voted for.

    Will never go there again.

  37. Ramone says:

    It’s obvious that Coffey wanted this deal done before Mullins was seated. That’s why this was rushed onto the agenda at the last minute with little public notice. Despite the fact that they’ve rushed this new lease on the agenda and obtained approval with a 3/2 split vote, it may not be over yet.

    The project proposes a new restaurant, with an increase in seats to 150 (which just so happens to be the minimum required to get a 4COP SRX liquor license). Because they’re not repairing an existing building, any new building would no longer be grandfathered in and should meet both the County’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code requirements. It would be interesting to see what the Park’s Future Land Use Category and Zoning Designations are. I can’t imagine the Park’s zoning and comp plan would allow new commercial buildings in the park. Incompatibility with the Comp plan is a big deal. Also, I don’t know how close the nearest gravity sewer is, but if at all possible, now is the time to run the necessary utility lines to make this connection. The last thing we need is another large septic system on the river bank. If the majority of people are upset over this, they may want to consider hiring a good land use attorney (or at least a competent planner) to look into this issue.

  38. Lnzc says:

    Been there 2 times,bad food,never again
    What a bunch of crooks running Flagler county
    Hope Mullins cleans out the gang

  39. Mark101 says:

    Well I guess NO MORE Capts BBQ for me and my family and my friends that come visit. . Amazing a person can paid for political support via a donation and got their wish , a new restaurant. Shameful that the County Commissioners can be bought for a few bucks. . See ya trees and just think Coffey is doing this all for the tourist and the taxpayers expense.

  40. Ben Hogarth says:

    I said this in the last article and I will say it again – the entire deal isn’t just unethical – it’s 100% illegal under State law.

    The Florida Constitution and subsequent case law has established a standard of “public purpose” and “public benefit” that this deal nowhere comes close to satisfying. I have no doubts this “deal” would not survive a legal challenge. (See last article comments for legal links). I think Dennis (an attorney) was quite modest about his concerns of the same when he stated that he believed the lease terms were not favoring County tax payers.

    Here is a public park and a private business that has been afforded the opportunity to use a building at a public park for its private purposes – for a fair cost. Now, they have been given a larger footprint in another section of the park for their exclusive use to build another building (at their cost) and as a result, for a monthly rent that would equate to a public subsidization of a private business for the private inurement of those business owners. ILLEGAL – and this is why you see so much outcry from the public. They know it is WRONG – they just didn’t know until now that it is also illegal.

    If I were an attorney in the County I would immediately file a Writ of Certiorari to the Circuit Court to review the Commissions vote and the “due process” and observation of general state laws for the action taken. I’m fairly certain the terms of the lease would be invalidated by the Court and for all intents and purposes, “thrown out.” Obviously this costs a filing fee, but I am sure that if the complainant did not have the funds, they could easily find people willing to chip in to the cause.

    And if I were Mr. Mullins, I would make my first action at the next meeting to call into question the issue and demand a revote on the item. My second action would be… well I will leave that up to his imagination.

    What a tragedy and more proof of backroom deals that do not benefit the public.

  41. A Hammock Resident says:

    No one discussed the commercial sized septic tank, next to the ICW, paid for by the taxpayer. Just wait, a few years from now, the trees between the new building and the view, will be removed. Twenty five little baby trees will be put in place of the mature trees that will go. Chris has a boatload of buddies in the Fishing Club, not representing the general public. Three commissioners voted on a project they didn’t have enough information on, bad job! Hey, thanks for our new building that will be occupied by the two guys for 25 years. Sweet deal for them, one the citizens don’t get. WE ARE NOT GOING TO PATRONIZE THE PLACE AGAIN!!! Mullins, please clear this us for the people of the Hammock.

  42. Percy's mother says:

    The whole county should e-mail Coffey regarding their displeasure at this travesty.

  43. Dave says:

    I will now take my boat, with friends and business associates, to Hidden Treasure. No longer will I take them to Bings. Glad I have a lift!

  44. Kevin says:

    Ramone raises some valid concerns regarding violating the Comprehensive Plan, why have a Comp Plan if you don’t honor it?
    Here are some points we posed to Mr. Coffey this morning:

    We reviewed the Flagler County Environmentally Sensitive Land Acquisition Manual. We could not find anywhere in that document where the proposed relocation of the restaurant fits with the program objectives as outlined. In fact, the project seems to be anathema to the core beliefs of County Government as expressed in this document. We cite the following primary and secondary objectives supporting this interpretation:

    Primary Program Objectives
    a) Preserve wildlife habitats and protect the health and diversity of wildlife,
    especially threatened and endangered species of plants and animals.
    b) Promote improved water quality and protect the Floridan aquifer and preserve
    water recharge areas.
    c) Preserve rare natural communities and wildlife habitats/ecosystems.
    d) Preserve unique cultural, historic, scenic, and signifi cant geologic features.
    f) 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
    a) 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.

    There is nothing in these objectives that lend credence to the proposal. Even with the construction of a new septic system for the new restaurant does not support Primary Objective b. since the increased size and greater patronage of the restaurant will result in greater septic waste production thus requiring the new system but offsetting any potential benefit of having it built at current usage levels. In other words you are adding waste water to the acquifer instead of reducing it.

    Primary Objective “e) Promote economic development through the creation of nature tourism property,infrastructure, and opportunities” it could be argued does not apply because the restaurant and associated parking will likely limit access to the public who want to enjoy the park for passive recreation and historic and natural passive activities. In other words patrons to the restaurant who have no purpose in visiting the park other than to eat are actually hindering access to the public to this public park.

    The project also seems to violate the intent of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

    We also research the statutes associated with the funding for this acquisition and it seems that any conservation easement requirements associated with the funding are being violated by the project thus risking the funds and placing the County at risk to be asked to refund the original funds allocated to the project.

    Now in regards to the process, perhaps you can clarify certain statements appearing in the press that indicate that although this project was first discussed last spring but not presented to the full board until last week. Here is the statement appearing in
    “County Administrator Craig Coffey was in discussions with Captain’s lease holders since last spring on the project, but did not submit the new lease proposal to the commission until last Friday, and did not present the lease to the Scenic A1A Committee earlier this month, when the committee voted 7-2 to support the plan. Committee members now say most will have voted against the plan had they seen the lease.”

    How do you justify these gaps and last minute public discussion if the story is accurate?

    Finally, we cannot understand how, with the elections less than a week ago and there being a new Commissioner elected replacing an existing member, why the meeting and vote was not held after the new duly elected Commissioner took office? Wouldn’t that have shown greater respect for the electorate?

    We are disappointed with the outcome of last night’s meeting and despite your assurances to address our conserns for the environment and aesthetics, the fact remains that the fiscal impact to our County do not add up to being positive for the taxpayers nor equitable to other business owners who take risks everyday while investing their equity in their own enterprise without the public assistance that these business owners will enjoy. We do not see the economic benefit accruing to the taxpayers but to the private business owners and this public enurement is wrong.

  45. Facts says:

    Wake up Florida! The legislature is taken Homerule. How can a local government create a comprehensive plan and land development code without using local property zoning codes? This is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2011 when the legislature passed Senate Bill 883 they took away local property zoning laws. So if you are not located in a gated community with vacation rental prohibitions in your documents all bets are off. All of these politicians cave to lobbyist. It is all about money and power. It really does not matter what party is in control. Yes, the fix was in before the meeting.

  46. Ben Hogarth says:

    I’d like to add that Ramone and Kevin bring up EXCELLENT discussion points regarding the comprehensive plan. This fits into my statement about having the circuit court review “due process” (apart from general provisions of law). A good land use attorney could absolutely file the writ (of certiorari) to the court for review and I have no doubt the commission vote would be overturned.

    And the whole idea of adding waste to the water system within a park and land management plan designed to reduce such loading is abhorrent. This is NOT a responsible form of environmental stewardship nor is it an honest way of conducting public business.

    I will add that it is a shame that the A1A Committee approved the concept and blessed the project without seeing the lease terms. I probably don’t need to opine that this was most likely done purposefully in order to pull a veil over their eyes. Nonetheless, as an advisory committee, they should not have approved something of which they did not have full disclosure. Shame on all parties to this corruption of public purpose and gross negligence.

    I’m surprised the entire business community isn’t up in arms about the sweet deal being given to this business at taxpayer expense. What business would NOT want this kind of opportunity? And that is precisely why this is not legal – everyone would be doing so already if it were.

  47. Feddy says:

    Captains food is not that great anyways no better than the chain joints like Bono’s or sonny’s bbq. The only advantage they have was the location but that will go away. Smokin D bbq blows them out of the water anyway.

  48. Len says:

    If the county has real estate available for lease to the public they should issue a public notice in all the local press describing the property that is available for lease, how it is zoned and request proposals that are within the counties strategic plan parameters for that property and which are communicated. The county should engage a commercial real estate firm to establish the market value of the the lease of the top three proposals. A second submission to the finalists requesting their “last, best and final lease payment offer” should be put forward to the Board for a comprehensive review and approval of the final selection.

    What we have in Flagler County is a County Administrator who isn’t well schooled on how a real professional does the job, despite having a top notch double dipping assistant, and a Board of Commissioners who let him run his s&^tshow without any competent oversight or direction.

  49. anony says:

    Want to keep taxes from going up and the county from giving away historical lands to the highest bidder? Don’t vote for republicans anymore,.

  50. rick says:

    This scam should open the door for other business owners to demand similar terms on other desirable county owned properties that might exist, under threat of suit for preferential treatment. And, hey, the whole purpose of this restaurant being granted a lease in the first place was to provide a reliable bait shop in the park, because the county couldn’t operate it efficiently themselves and didn’t want to, so they hired it out hoping that attaching it to a profitable restaurant would keep it functioning. Guess what happened. They bailed on the baitshop, and Captain’s no longer provides the service they initially agreed to provide. Another important page from this book of greed and corruption. In your face, Flagler County residents, right?

  51. Fiscal says:

    Now THAT is laughable.

    Mullins has NO experience, no principles….wait and see, Flagler.

  52. Ramone says:

    I took a quick look at the Future Land Use Element (FLUE) Map and it shows the Bings site is designated “Recreation and Open Space”. If you look through the Objectives and Policies in this land use, there are numerous conflicts within.

    According to Flagler Live this property was also purchased with Environmentally Sensitive Lands Program funds. The main objective in H.1.2. is to protect, preserve or restore ecologically significant areas for environmental protection and resource based recreation. Cutting down the trees and vegetation for development of a 5000 sq. ft. restaurant certainly runs counter to this objective.

    Also, if the Mala Compra ruins haven’t been scientifically extricated from this site, they will be violating several policies relating to historical and/or archeological sites.

    This definitely needs a closer look? Is anyone familiar with the site development plan review procedures in Flagler? Does the site plan for the new restaurant have to go through an advisory board and then Commission approval process? Or is it approved in house by staff?

  53. Hammock Bear says:

    Does this mean there will be no Pavilions to rent anymore and to have cook outs??? Our golf group has rented those spots for many years and many live in St.Augustine, where in St.John’s county there is no such place to have a cookout like at Bing’s. The Pavilions are used by various groups and families for parties and cookouts. The entire plan seems illegal. Hope a pro can find the illegal parts to stop this insult to a beautiful piece of land and to the taxpayers in Flagler County.

  54. Flagler Paddler says:

    Such a travesty! Maybe it’s time to start a petition on MoveOn!

  55. Edith Campins says:

    And the citizens of Palm Coast lose again.

    I wil make sure that my friends, family and vistors never go there again. I am sure their mediocre food will bring in lots offtourists to the area…not.

  56. Robert says:

    This is so simple: A beautiful public park, irreplaceable and a rare piece of land overlooking the ICW and an awesome sunset, and an historic archaeologic site, is sold off to private business for absolutely no beneficial reason to the owners of the park, that being the residents of Flagler County.


    Obviously it wasn’t to create revenue. Was it to increase traffic to the park? Of course not. What normal, reasonable person would say, “Hey, this is a good idea. Let’s throw away this spectacular park and build a restaurant here. And let’s give them a lease at a tiny fraction of what the land would lease for on private property.”? There is no reason whatsoever other than to line the pockets of greedy individuals, either for power or money, or both.

  57. robert says:

    Addendum: The late John Henry Hankinson, who so recently fought so hard to promote the purchase and preservation of Long Creek and other environmentally sensitive areas across the water from Bing’s Landing, must be rolling over in his grave at this deal. He was a powerful green attorney who lived in Summerhaven for many years. If he was alive, he would have the influence, knowledge, and will to stop this outrage. Sadly and unfortunately for the less capable of us, he passed away only last year.

  58. Crookedman says:

    Never again will i bring my family and freidnds to captains

  59. jackson35 says:

    Wow, so corruption, palm will soon be nothing but section 8 housing and blacktop!

  60. Richard says:

    Baynes BBQ (Flagler Beach), Smokin D BBQ (St. Augustine) AND Smokin J BBQ (Tampa FL) are all 1000 times better than Capt”s BBQ any day of the week! The ONLY reason I stop at Bing’s Landing is to enjoy the ICW, Manatee’s, talk to the fishermen, watch the boaters come and go, etc plus IF I happen to be hungry I may buy a BBQ sandwich. Take that serenity and open space away and it will no longer be a stopping place for me.

  61. jall08 says:

    Nice return on investment for a campaign contribution. The whole thing was a disgrace.

  62. Barbara M says:

    Thank you – You reported this in a thorough, objective, factual way. Truly appreciated by your readers, and even some of your critics, no doubt.

  63. Concerned says:

    Remember people…vote them out. They are spending our money simply because they are politicians and they were bought. I also agree, boycott this place for taking away our beautiful and serene park.

  64. Concerned Citizen says:

    Several things we can do here.

    1.) Boycott Captains BBQ. Boycotts do work and send a powerful message.
    2.) Protest. If enough folks get together and protest that also affects Captains Business.
    3.) Ask Flagler Live to investigate further on our behalf and keep media pressure going. Eventually the State will get involved and handle the illegal aspect of this transaction
    4.) Demand a recall on elected officials for taking kickbacks disguised as “campaign contributions”

    Bings Landing is a public park and a historical site. If the county refuses to protect it then it’s our job as citizens of this county to step up.

    Likewise with our politicians. if they want to represent business instead of their constituents then we need to send them a powerful message by demanding a recal.

  65. can't believe it says:

    My family and friends are going to do our best to help solve the parking problem by making sure there is plenty parking available, for Hansen, McLaughlin, Sullivan and Coffey to get their free pulled pork sandwiches for life. We’ll be voting with our dollars by visiting other restaurants, which will be in St. John’s County.

  66. Dave says:

    Be sure to give CRAPtains BBQ a 1 star review on google!!

  67. Sue says:

    Not everyone agrees with the many negative comments on this article. More than 1000 people signed
    a petition in favor of Captains. Also read this link for another perspective –

  68. Eva says:

    Well they will not be getting my business. Unreal…

  69. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Lets picket OUR Bing’s Landing and post our signs, comments and photos on Facebook and also link our overpriced Tourist website . After all ‘Flagler has everything”… including instant paybacks for campaign contributions.
    Flagler County ” Zoned for Profit”. *Tip: Election time is the best time to cash in ….

    If we let them get away with this and don’t appeal what can we expect next?

  70. Jim O says:

    Two things:

    – BBQ Lives Matters
    – To those who are not going to visit Catains again. Thank you. I will double my visits and it looks like the lines will be less.

  71. Dave says:

    Jane Gentile I am with you let’s get coordinated! What a beautiful place to picket! Post the link to the Anti-Captains BBQ here so we can all follow

  72. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    To Dave
    I am ready!

  73. Dave says:

    Lines will be less indeed

  74. palmcoaster says:

    Why we loose our good first? Great stewart of our Florida Land Preservation an exemplary Florida attorney that will sure support our cause.

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