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Ex-Councilman Jason DeLorenzo, a Voice for Homebuilders, Is Palm Coast’s New Development Chief

| June 17, 2019

 He's back: Jason DeLorenzo, who served five years as a Palm Coast Cioty Council member and ran for a County Commission seat two years ago, will be Palm Coast's development chief starting in July. (© FlaglerLive)

He’s back: Jason DeLorenzo, who served five years as a Palm Coast City Council member and ran for a County Commission seat two years ago, will be Palm Coast’s development chief starting in July. (© FlaglerLive)

Less than three years after he left the Palm Coast City Council at the end of a five-year term, Jason DeLorenzo is returning to the city–as its Chief Development Officer. For home-builders and developers, the appointment is a long-coveted victory that brings their interests inside the city’s gates.

City Manager Matt Morton says he intends for DeLorenzo’s appointment to change the perception of a department for years seen as anti-business and anti-development: DeLorenzo for 12 years was the government affairs director for the Flagler Homebuilders Association, and of course a strong advocate for development and a check on impact fees, and has long called for better customer service and less rigidity from the city’s development division. He will now get to implement some of his goals, heading a department that includes planning, zoning and building.

Planning Manager Ray Tyner, likely DeLorenzo’s strongest competition for the top job–Tyner has been with the city 15 years and was among the five finalists–was instead promoted to be DeLorenzo’s deputy.

The two appointments together are a further reflection of Morton’s nearly radical shift of City Hall toward a more customer- and resident-centered enterprise externally. Internally, they reflect Morton’s approach to management: he wants directors in his mold–energetic, transparent, comfortable facing down institutional dogmas–backed up by deputies or managers with solid experience and institutional history. “I think the two gentlemen together, Ray and Jason, form in my estimation a dynamic duo,” Morton said this afternoon. He cited Tyner’s deep technical knowledge and familiarity with city history, while citing DeLorenzo’s expected ability to “rebuild and rebrand our approach to citizen engagement and service in the development arena.”

“Ray is an excellent employee, good guy, and I look forward to working with him,” DeLorenzo said. “I have strong knowledge of the code but he’s in the code all the time. I have a different style than Ray but I think we’re going to work great as a team. I’m really a people person first, right? I try to build relationship, build trust.” Once that’s in place, he said, “we can solve any problem.”

DeLorenzo’s appointment is a very loud signal to the development community that Palm Coast intends to have its interests at heart, which raises a question posed to both Morton and DeLorenzo: how does Palm Coast not send the message that developers have a blank check at City Hall?

“I think you saw that in practice when I was on the city council,” DeLorenzo said. At the time, he was with the Homebuilders Association. “I was an actual employee that was provided direction, but the direction never influenced my decision-making on the city council, I always took the community’s best interest first, and that’s how I’m going to approach this as well.”

Morton said it’s up to the administration, including himself, “to ensure that we’re being fair to everyone that we’re being responsible and that we’re not favoring builders or development. I don’t believe that’s going to be a problem, but we’ll continue to manage that.” He cites Tyner’s role as, in effect, a balancing act between DeLorenzo’s rebranding and a still-valuable legacy of careful and green development to preserve. Palm Coast’s canopy, in other words, is not going to be lost.

Nevertheless, Morton wants the message to be clear that rigidity is out and flexibility is in. “We have to swing the pendulum here, there’s no doubt about that, we were too far to the other side,” he said. He was referring to the city’s code. “I think we had taken on this mantle that the code book was an excuse to not do the heavy lifting of community development work. From my perception from what I heard was that we were too heavy-handed with this code book, we were too recalcitrant, ‘no, no, no.’”

DeLorenzo takes over either at the beginning or the middle of July. He’ll be paid $104,000. Tyner is currently earning $101,000. The promotion carries a 5 percent raise. So he’ll be making more than his director–$106,000, at least at the beginning. (DeLorenzo said the difference doesn’t bother him.) DeLorenzo for the past 18 months filled two roles at Southern Title. He was director of sales for the builder-development division, and was a government affairs liaison. He credits the company for preparing him for his next job, citing its leadership program.

The Chief Development Officer position was previously known as Community Development Director when held by Steve Flanagan and, before him, Nestor Abreu. Abreu retired. Flanagan is returning to the utility department to continue what Morton describes as “his mentorship” under long-time director Richard Adams, who is flirting with retirement. Morton says he changed the name of the position to make it more accountable.

DeLorenzo will have to improve the department’s image in that regard: twice since November its employees have been the subject of internal investigations and disciplining that led to resignations and suspensions. In one case, the chief building inspector was found to have favored one company over others. In another, several building division employees accepted gifts from a particular developer at Christmas, what became known as Whiskygate.

DeLorenzo’s appointment will also affect the political dynamics of the coming county commission races. DeLorenzo in 2016 ran for the seat Charlie Ericksen defended. DeLorenzo was aiming to run again, absent his appointment to the city’s post. Now that’s not possible anymore: the city does not allow its directors to serve on political boards. DeLorenzo’s absence from the race will likely open it to still more candidates, now that a known entity is not in the mix.

To DeLorenzo, the choice came down to thinking about family and his 10-year-old daughter: “Politics can get really nasty, especially during campaign season,” he said. The county commission job–even his current job–would have entailed being away from the house on evenings and some weekends at a time when he would rather maximize his time with his daughter. But in the end, “the challenge of taking over the department is really why I leaned one way over the other.”

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21 Responses for “Ex-Councilman Jason DeLorenzo, a Voice for Homebuilders, Is Palm Coast’s New Development Chief”

  1. thomas says:

    Between the Mayor and De Lorenzo, Palm Coast government is solidly in the pockets of the developers now.

  2. The original woody says:

    I thought we were draining the swamp not adding to it.

  3. Just wait for it says:

    WOW, If that is not putting the Fox in charge of the Hen house I don’t know what is. Maybe Mr. Morton should have asked Panera Bread why they would never do business again with City of Palm Coast and asked them for their input on Mr. DeLorenzo.

  4. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Congratulations Jason

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    So now developers have a paid lobbyist inside city government? Great.

    I have not seen devolpers have too much issue getting stuff done in Palm Coast. And they seem to be above any rules. As shown in recent issues with building inspections. I fail to see why we need another position to weigh down the already heavy bureaucracy.

    Time will tell if he remains ethical. That seems to be an issue in Flagler County.

  6. Layla says:

    This seems like a very good choice to me.

  7. Algernon says:

    Congratulations Jason. I know from experience that you have the ability and desire to look at a problem or opportunity from more that just one side – to better understand it before acting. Wishing you the best.

  8. Dan says:

    Congratulations Jason, I’m sure that you will do a great job.

  9. Steve says:

    Congrats, Jason. Great guy. Gets it done. Glad to see you back. Palm Coast is lucky to have him. He helped me when he was on the city council. I’m sure he will do a great job as Palm Coast’s delevopement chief.

  10. Concerned Observer says:

    I am also concerned with this new appointment. Mr. DeLorenzo’s history leads this reader to believe that his goal will be at the direct peril of homeowners and aggressively pro-developers. I moved here a few years ago because I LIKE the peaceful, safe, slower lifestyle of Palm Coast over what I could have living in Orlando, Jacksonville or even St. Augustine. I do not need or want the congestion, strip malls, high-rise condominiums, traffic, constant construction and faster pace of life of a big city. Homeowners of Flagler County need a protector of their desired lifestyle and not a protagonist for aggressive profit, rape, ruin and run of developers.

  11. Jerry says:

    Congrats Jason, I know you will do a great job.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    Now will be further eroded the quality of life and safety of the current residents in favor of developers with their heavy construction equipment allowed to mess up all our residential streets and given bigger impact fees exemptions that will be charged to us and reflected in our utilities even higher fees already planned and announced to be approved for 2022. In a household of just two retired people already our utility water sewer and garbage monthly is over $98/month….cant imagine a family of 5 with children opening faucets….how much is now. And the good old boy hand picking policies goes on…Jeez I can’t imagine how happy Mr. Tyner could be…serious?

  13. carol says:

    What a joke!!! Simply amazing!!
    What is wrong with the city manager?

  14. What a waste says:

    Why are there so many government employees making 6 figure salaries in this county??? This is out of control. Between the city, county, school board, sheriff’s office, I’ll bet there are hundreds of 6 figure salaries. And yet there are very few private industry jobs paying that high.

  15. Michael Cocchiola says:

    I believe Jason will balance development with quality of life in Palm Coast.

  16. palmcoaster says:

    Also doesn’t it look like a conflict of interest that Mr. DeLorenzo has been since I historically recall the Government Affairs Director for the Flagler Palm Coast Home Builders Association, to be hired as a city Chief of Building and Development? His been lobbying for builders all these years and who will be lobbying for us the existing residents quality of life then? So far we have to speak our frustrations 3 minutes on these hours long city council meetings trying to stop these construction, tankers and other semi supply 18 wheeler’s to be prevented from using our residential roads like Florida Park Drive as cut past thru to new developments and all businesses…for their financial convenience.Also enduring not having some soft bumps or humps circles calming traffic because the one’s that do not reside FPD road front and use it daily very selfishly oppose it and looks like they weigh more in our city council and mayor than the over five hundred families that reside in FPD and endure the noisy, contaminating and dangerous nuisance.,
    Associate Directors
    Jason DeLorenzo- and others.–LTA-10-237.html

  17. PC worker says:

    Wow this guy came from nowhere,guess it good to be friends with the Mayor. the CM knows nothing about this guy.The mayor should having nothing to say about personal.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Let’s be honest here, the city manager doesn’t know squat about these two guys since he has only been here for two to three months . He talks like they all have been old war buddies. The mayor is the puppet master here , she is pulling the strings as far as the hiring and that is out of bounds for here. This who transformation has been in the works for weeks maybe even months. The resignations that have happen recently were actually firings, force to resign. This is a miniature swamp like county, state , federal levels with dishing out exorbitant salaries with complete disregard for the taxpayers

  19. Diane says:

    Palm Coast deserves what it gets . What were you thinking ? Jason is laughing all the way to the bank .

  20. Scott Sowers says:

    Economics 101- Residential rooftops don’t pay the bills for government to be effective. Commercial development is what covers most of our tax bill. I don’t think the majority of people want stagnant development but would rather see more shopping and dining options. A government whom is welcoming and expeditious in working with a developer is what we have needed for a long time. Mr. Morton is taking the right steps to change the culture and the hiring of Mr. DeLorenzo is another step in the right direction.

  21. Siminee Paige Schmidt-West says:

    Congratulations Jason DeLorenzo! This is a fantastic appointment by the City of Palm Coast. You have an excellent history of Community mindfulness. We look forward to seeing you bring opportunity and progress to the area.

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