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In Big Victory for Bing’s Proponents, Commission Votes 4-0 To “Sidetrack” Lease With Captain’s BBQ

| December 3, 2018

County Administrator Craig Coffey, sitting in the center, as a dozen people lined up at the beginning of today's County Commission meeting to speak largely in opposition to recent Coffey-initiated proposals. (c FlaglerLive)

County Administrator Craig Coffey, sitting in the center, as a dozen people lined up at the beginning of today’s County Commission meeting to speak largely in opposition to the Bing’s Landing plans for a larger Captain’s BBQ. (c FlaglerLive)

In a surprise, and a big victory for opponents of a planned larger Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing, County Commissioner Dave Sullivan this morning moved to reconsider the county’s lease with Captain’s which it approved on Nov. 19. Sullivan was part of the 3-2 majority approving that lease.

Today, he was part of a unanimous vote not so much rejecting the lease, but to have it “sidetracked for a while,” giving commissioners time to be presented with fuller information. Sullivan was joined by Commission Chairman Don O’Brien, and Commissioners Joe Mullins and Greg Hansen. Mullins was sitting through his first full business meeting of the commission, and had asked commissioners on Nov. 19 to delay their action then until he was seated.

“This motion is exactly what I was looking for when I spoke earlier. It’s not for or against the restaurant,” Mike Cocchiola told commissioners during another public-comment segment on the issue, just before the vote. He said it was a matter of better vetting the issue.

“I have come to the conclusion we do not have enough information yet to really go forward on that plan,” Sullivan said, recognizing that while he was supportive of the restaurant’s plans to expand, he was “not immune” to the public outcry, nor did he disagree with claims that the issue had not been properly vetted.

Mike Goodman, the co-owner of Captain’s, sat at the back of the meeting room, flanked by Jay Livingston, his attorney, and former County Commission candidate Abby Romaine, a Hammock resident and former leader of a community association there. But Goodman, as on previous occasions, opted not to speak.

For opponents of the lease, the vote today was vindication of a swift and impressive effort to mobilize public opposition to the plan, opposition that swelled even after the November 19 vote, with demonstrations outside of Bing’s on two successive Sundays.

The meeting began with the customary 30-minute public participation segment. A dozen people lined up, and all but one called on the commission to rescind its vote approving a new lease with Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing. The 28-year lease enables that restaurant to build a new, larger building nearer the center of the park, with a bar, at its owners’ expense but with generous subsidies from the county, including rent limited to $1,000 a month for the first four years.

The plan galvanized staunch opposition from Hammock and other county residents who see the county park, acquired with taxpayers’ Environmentally Sensitive Lands program dollars, compromised by the business’ expansion, with little oversight by the county: the commission approved the lease without any independent analysis about the claims that the existing building is no longer viable (even though the lease provides for it to be usable for another 30 months), what the new building will cost, what it will look like, and so on.

“The first thing is we don’t want a bar and a bigger barbecue in our park,” one resident said, describing the reaction to the plans as an outcry. “There’s been no due diligence to examine the facts of this.”

“I’m a registered small-government Republican,” Steven Hatcher of the Hammock said. “I do not think that Flagler County should be in the business of subsidizing a business.”

The lease was signed on Friday, County Administrator Craig Coffey said (to groans in the commission chamber), raising what County Attorney Al Hadeed said were potential “legal implications,” which Hadeed will examine.

After the vote to reconsider the Nov. 19 vote, the commission agreed to hold a workshop to discuss the lease on Jan. 7. The workshop would “reconsider” the lease and its configurations.

25 Responses for “In Big Victory for Bing’s Proponents, Commission Votes 4-0 To “Sidetrack” Lease With Captain’s BBQ”

  1. Lnzc says:

    If lots of park goers would go park there at meal times,there wouldn’t be room for customers,maybe they would move out of Bings landing

  2. Richard says:

    Not to be picky but there is a BIG difference between an opponent and a proponent. Just say’n.

  3. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Mr. Hadeed – With all due respect:
    1) First review Florida statutory mandatory requirements on land use acquired by a government agency using the ‘environmentally sensitive’ funding. Has the county complied 100%? Will the county be able to comply if new lease terms go into affect or will the county be in violation of ANY STATE STATUTE?
    2) Secondly: Review original lease terms agreed to by Captains’ and respond to numerous allegations that they have violated their lease agreements by not having the bait shop hours in compliance before you talk about legal implications for the county initiated by Captains owners. You should be more concerned about malfeasance and misfeasance filings against county staff instead

  4. CTPC Local says:

    Yay, you were able to delay it! But that’s about all that happened. The expansion will still happen (as it should). Business is business and business is good. Just another topic for people to moan and complain about. What would Flagler County residents do with their time if there wasn’t actually something to cry about!?

  5. tulip says:

    Dave Sullivan knew the first time it was presented that there was very little info on the subject, that it would be favor to the owners, and that it wouldn’t pay taxes because the restaurant is on county property, and that is was abruptly put before the board for political reasons. Sullivan will have some competition when he runs for re-election in 2020, so he is getting his favorable ducks in a row while there is still plenty of time, which is why he suggested a second look and to collect information. Hansen is another story.

    It was also suggested by Mr. O’brien at the meeting that ALL of the commissioners should be in attendance when a vote is to be taken. I totally agree. Ericksen was absent because he decided to take a cruise. The BOCC meetings are two weeks apart. Seems to me he could have taken a 4 day cruise during the open 2 week time period.

    My question is, can a commissioner, or commissioners, decide not to vote on a subject at the actual meeting because a commissioner is absent at the time and will wait to cast a vote when there is a full board?

  6. atilla says:

    Maybe this will piss off Coffey enough so he quits.

  7. Len says:

    Here is another case where the county commissioners are a day late and a dollar short – the lease has been signed! The Coffey and Hadeed s%^t show continues unimpeded by the nonexistent oversight of the commission.

    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.

  8. Agkistrodon says:

    I sure hope “sidetracked” doesn’t mean, Proceed, out of the eye of the public. How about this. Leave the natural place the way it is. Because when Captain’s is finished with the building, all you are left with is a silly building. LOTS of other places for “Captains” to build a larger establishment.

  9. Dave says:

    Now if we can keep this same energy until Captain’s bbq is completely removed from the park!. Let’s continue these protests each Sunday until we rid our park of this leech of a buissness. Nice to see we can make a difference!

  10. susan says:

    Pretty obvious what took place here. By passing AND Coffey signing the lease captains BBQ can now extort money or force compliance from the county by threating legal action. Coffey and Captains did this intentionally crony capitalism, socialize the expense privatize the profits or sue the government.

  11. Rhonda says:

    I hope Senator Hutson and Representative Renner are paying attention.

    Flagler County residents are starting to mobilize against decisions not made in the best interests of the community. Such as allowing businesses to operate in communities zoned single family – i.e. short-term rentals owned by investors.

  12. Charlie says:

    The original “Bait Shop” was a scam. Was almost NEVER opened and they NEVER had live bait. Creeps used it as a way to get their BBQ place built………

  13. Hmmm says:

    If i was Captains, i wouldnt feel comfortable resuming business in the current location, let alone this lease deal. After pissing off most of the community, which is where the money comes from, they’ll be lucky if they make enough to keep the lights on.

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    It’s only 4-0 because the BOCC got caught doing an illegal act.

    No ones sorry and as soon as we aren’t looking they will proceed with the deal then will be done.

    There still needs to be an investigation into the “campaign contributions” the Commissioners accepted. I’m also guessing that because of the lack of public notice Sunshine Laws were violated. If they went after Kimberly Weeks for recording they need to be held accountable for financial issues.

    Lastly if we are able to stop the Captain’s BBQ deal from going forward we then need to put legal pressure on our BOCC. Apologies and back tracks aren’t enough and don’t hold anyone accountable.

  15. Dave says:

    Continue to hit them where it hurts and give them a 1 star rating on google! There rating has already dropped and we can continue to expose the truth about this fraudulent buissness

  16. ftbl38 says:

    I find the whole situation very shady. While yes they have great BBQ and seem to have done no wrong. Bull shit they are taking advantage of the county tax payers. The captain’s donate $4,500 to certain county commissioners campaign, then give more money to the other county commisioners who were running once NATE got fired and Craig came under scrutiny. Possibly to help pretect previous deal made with county commissioners. $1,000 a month for rent locked in for 21 yrs WTF really, people wake the fuck up. FYI, some of the big sized restaurants in town, size wise (houligans, outback, carrabbas) pay over $10K per month in rent for the same amount of sq.ft that captain’s is approved for. They also employ more of our residents than captain’s. I know where I’ll be eating and spending hard earned $$$.

  17. Maffamike says:

    Point of info, at the Nov cc meeting Coffey was asked if the county inspected the restaurant to determine if our present building was unrepairable , before going into a lease for a new building . Coffey responded NO ….. he said he KNEW it wasn’t repairable no professional was called on and he never sent his crew in to check it out . Please tell me why one week ago Coffey sent his work crew over to the old dump where the Rams fly airplanes the ol d pump building on the property was in terrible condition his crew said it would be inspected and torn down if not repairable ps they removed wood from roof repaired it put on new roof did structural reapairs to exterior . Repaired and installed new entry area with new deck … etc etc etc only when Coffey wants to satisfy a new planning board member (mr Gooodman ) owner of capts bbq is the building to bad to repair or is there another reason????… go see the great job our county employees did . Good workers … did Flagler cc have any knowledge of this ?

  18. JOHN says:

    If the Commissioners knew they were going to undue (suspend) the earlier vote today on Monday Dec 3…. why did they sign the lease 1 business day earlier on Friday Nov 30 ? They should have delayed signing the lease. Personally I think all restaurants should have right to bid on the lease, but at a minimum, there should have been a thorough transparent process followed before the vote on options and before the signing of an actual lease.

  19. Jw says:

    Get off public owner land. Go pay millions of dollars for your own land and pay your mortage like many businesses. Thats all.

  20. Sherry says:

    THANKS AGAIN TO FLAGLERLIVE! Without this invaluable local news source, our community would not be informed about the decisions that impact us so powerfully!

    May I suggest that each of us should support Flaglerlive today. Please consider how in the world this story would have been made public without the hard work of great investigative journalism by Flaglerlive.

    Congratulations to those we attended meetings, spoke out, contacted county commission members, protested, etc. This is true Democracy at work, and we should all be proud of making out voices heard.

    But. . . it is not over yet. We must be vigilant and keep up the pressure on our political leaders to “do the LEGAL, right and ethical thing”! These kinds of “back room deals” happen much too often in Flagler county. We should face the possibility of corruption in the ranks of the county commissioners. Certainly Coffey should be fired, but somehow he continues to lead the commission around by the nose.

    An independent investigation should be implemented immediately in order to determine what steps need to be taken to bring honesty and integrity back into our local county government.

  21. marlee says:

    Meanwhile…the legal fund is growing.

  22. Beachcat says:

    Im watching Mr. Hansen. Will he continue to vote against his constituents such as the Matanzas Shores fiasco bringing in more than 100 new short term rental homes, as well as bloating Bings Landing with a monster restaurant and bar?

  23. Stretchem says:

    I see how to donate to FlaglerLive. How and where does one donate to the afformentioned legal fund? Has this been ran across a state attorney’s office?

    As for the citizenry, just don’t patronize the restaurant. Tell your friends. Find other businesses owned by the same people and do the same. The corruption is deep here. Put’em all out of business.

  24. capt says:

    @ Beachcat Mr. Hansen. does whatever Coffey tells him to do.

  25. Cheney says:

    You can donate to the legal fund at to support Flagler County Citizens Group

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