“I feel quite comfortable at the end of tonight’s presentation, you’ll find that there is an adequate legal basis for you to reject this project as is currently configured,” Dennis Bayer told Flagler County commissioners Monday evening.
Bayer, an attorney representing the Hammock Community Association, misjudged a commission that, though divided, voted 3-2 Monday evening to approve an unusually dense, 50-home subdivision on less than 14 acres at the juncture of State Road A1A and Jungle Hut Road called Beachwalk.
Bayer was asking the commission to reject the rezoning application that would enable the subdivision. The Beachwalk proposal has been before commissioners several times this year, and had previously been rejected. Jacksonville developer Ken Atlee made a few changes to the plan and a mediated compromise between him and county regulators emerged for commissioners to approve.
“While we appreciate that there has been changes to the plan we don’t think it goes quite far enough. There needs to be a further reduction in the densities,” Bayer told commissioners. “You are well familiar with the recent issues coming in front of you. The Hammock is basically ground zero for a significant amount of development. It seems every property owner is coming in for more and more and more of intensity than what they purchased the property for. So we’d like you to consider that this is going to be a decision that makes precedent with the other developments that are soon to follow.”
The argument didn’t convince Commissioners Donald O’Brien, Dave Sullivan and Joe Mullins. They first voted against an attempt by Commissioners Greg Hansen and Charlie Ericksen to reject the development, then, with little discussion (Mullins addressed septic issues) for approval.
The vote changes zoning from “urban single-family residential” to “planned unit development,” making the larger density possible. Without the change, development would have had to be limited to some 30 homes. At that number, the developer couldn’t make money, he claimed. The lots will be small, with a minimum size of 5,500 square feet, a width of 50 feet and a lot depth of 110 feet.
The houses would be under 2,000 square feet, and cover 60 percent of the now-wooded acreage with asphalt or concrete, though the developer and his attorney, Sid Ansbacher, insisted somehow that they were somehow preserving green space. “No one has debated the prior testimony before this board from our tree expert,” Ansbacher said, “that the best area of trees is being preserved.”
“I have a lot of problems with this,” Hansen said. “This does not meet the purpose of a PUD zoning, and I agree with that. This should stay R-C zoning. The plan that they have is a good plan, except it has 50 houses in it. Take that same plan, exact same with the buffers and everything else and put 36 houses in there and I’ll vote for it. But not until that happens.” He said the comprehensive plan states low density as a goal. “It doesn’t say we have to do it, but it says the goal should be low density. This doesn’t meet that in my mind. The emotional reason I have is that it’s going to ruin that part of the Hammock. So I’m just strongly against this. I just think it’s the wrong thing to do.”
The greater majority of people in the audience thought likewise.
“I know we will listen to many who will state the same arguments we’ve heard before,” Atlee said before an hour’s worth of public comment echoing Hansen. “That site plan is too dense, and on and on. I want to point out that we were reviewed three times at the [county’s technical review committee] resulting in your planning department recommending approval. Your planning commission voted 4-2 in favor of the PUD, and 5-0 in favor of the original site plan. We were then voted down at [the county commission]. That led to the mediation,” more meetings, and what he referred to as the final compromise.
One of the developer’s selling points was that homes in the subdivision would be connected to a central sewer system, as opposed to independent septic mounds. He and Ansbacher held the specter of another developer building fewer homes but connecting them all to septic systems, to the detriment of the region.
One of the few supporters of the project in the large audience at Monday’s meeting picked up on septic advantage. “I think a lot of people are not looking at the real picture of what they’re trying to do here,” Brent Bruns, the owner of a property at 5047 North Ocean Shore (or A1A) recently approved for a restaurant there. “Right now the Hammock is in a stifled position of no growth. And the reason there can’t be any growth is because there are a lot of larger parcels that could be commercial in an era that everyone would like to be commercial. As a matter of fact, the A1A Scenic [committee] has recommended some areas. None of those areas can be developed without sewer. We have someone coming to the table that is going to spend the money required.”
By the time commissioners were ready to vote, their meeting was nearing the four-hour mark. They’d dealt with numerous issues in their first commission meeting since the Hurricane Dorian disruption, and Beachwalk itself had been before them several times. They took their pair of votes, then moved on. Beachwalk may now be built.
I think single homes is the way to go on all the areas in Flagler County, if an individual buys a lot and wants to build that is great . I have a problem with developers clearing massive amounts of wooded areas to build these gated communities stressing the local infrastructure and the environment. I hope the commissioners took that into account. The increase on water usage, water-plant usage, noise pollution, smoke pollution and added traffic to our roads.
Ron Huxtable says
This will become a cheap, run-down problem for The Hammock five years after completion.
Amy Emm says
You sooo right!
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Disgusting. And shame on you, Joe Mullins. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Next hurricane? We will have to evacuate in shifts.
Donald Hoskins says
Isn’t it amazing that a community has so little control over it’s neighborhood.
Just goes to show that our county commissioners are more concerned about tax basis than what will create a nice looking area. Fifty houses on such a small lot dos not.
Linda Hansen says
Three of the Commissioners voted yes. The other two no. I don’t believe this had anything to do with the tax base, despite what they said in the hearing. This kind of density is insane.
sharon baughman says
I live within walking distance of this development and I am sorry to see the woods and greenery go. Many animals live in these woods and are now going to be displaced or killed. Shame on the commissioners for allow this to project to proceed. The Hammock used to be a nice quite place to live but not any more.
Pretty sure there are Gopher Turtles there. It’s pretty pricey and takes quite a bit of time to have them removed. Hopefully they will be held to the same regulations as private builders to protect the turtles.
I would hope so. Definitely loosing faith in our Government doing the right thing.
The homes will be built less then 2000 sq ft…that’s interesting because a lot of homes in the Hammock garages are bigger…Just Say’n
Nancy Meehan says
You are totally right The scientist s are all saying about global warming is due to environment we have created
We are changing so many lives of animals . Innocent animals will die so we can get more money more taxes more , more,more. When does it stop?
Sarah Sieling says
Sounds like your commissioners have been taking lessons from the Palm Coast mayor and commissioners. Tax base comes first. No concerns for current residents or the problems that these dense developments will bring to an area that was never meant to support them. 20-30 years from now Flagler county will be a huge slum with people living packed in with poor housing, lack of clean water and sewer problems. You can bet that the developers swarming into Flagler County will never live there and the mayor’s and commissioners who got rich giving approval to this kind of development will be long gone.
John R Brady says
Please remember these people when it is your turn to vote.
Save Palm Coast says
Does that picture remind you of the three stooges. Embarrassing last night for these three. 2020 two will be gone. And then Ed Danko will replace Mullins.
Kirk shea says
This has always been about extending the sewer line north on A1A .
Mike Cocchiola says
You tried Commissioners Hansen and Ericksen. My personal thought is that 50 homes on tiny plots is too dense for the character and ambience of the Hammock. I’m not convinced that 35 or so homes would have been profitable for the developers while preserving more green space. But it’s done, and I think the floodgate has been opened.
bill nelson says
So, I wonder what the yes vote was worth $$ ?? (and please don’t say that has nothing to do with it!!
There comes election time…just remember who voted against the existing residents quality of life.
Outside Looking Out says
Thanks to Flaglerlive’s new page design, we all get a large and clear picture of Flagler county’s three stooges or three crooks. The opinions of their constituencies are completely irrelevant. One must wonder what they gained. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Hammock Bear says
Big money usually wins as was seen in the approval of a development on tiny lots . One entry and exit appears on the blue print. Will short term rentals be permitted? How long will it take to evacuate in a hurry? Good ole boys won again. Disgusting.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
It is not the responsibility of any elected official to take into consideration ‘profit for the land investor’. Their total responsibility is towards those who pay their salaries with their hard earned dollars and who have an absolute right to expect their elected officials to respect their status as citizens.. voters and the real ‘ experts of what they need and want.
This crap about the septic /sewer argument as a basis for doubling investor’s profits is just .pardon me but in my opinion..pure crap..
As a seasoned real estate licensee for 40 years I highly doubt that Messes Investors would build any new home in 2019 on a septic system and advertise new heaven on earth modern homes on SEPTIC. Perfect sense and more practical on large lots an acre or more but not on 1/4 acre or less.
In other words the commissioners swallowed the investors ..yep…you guessed the only appropriate word ‘crap’. Not wanting to sound non ladylike I cannot find a more appropriate word for what convinced 3 commissioners to vote yes. They fell for it..
Although we live in Plantation Bay the hammock is part of my county that my husband and I adopted over 17 years after ‘fleeing’oue home in South florida… because the results of the irresponsible decisions of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s have turned my old home area into an overstuffed sardine can.
I am shocked at Commissioner Sulluvan most of all
If you saw all this in South Florida to the point where you moved up here…then WHY would you be “shocked” now?
You have seen it all before.
What did you think they were gonna do?
Local commissioners are scum who are always willing to be bought by developers.
I am very disappointed in Commissioners Sullivan, Mullins, and O’Brien. They could have voted for the developer to go back to drawing table and come up with a design that was within the current zoning. Instead they voted to allow this precedent to be set for future development. I am not anti-development just REASONABLE development within the constraints of existing zoning and the surrounding community. I do not believe the hype about some other developers coming in and developing the land with septic tanks and driveways on AIA and shame on the commissioners, especially Mullins, for believing this story. There is always going to be another developer around the corner – how do we know his design wouldn’t be better. Vote for the REALITY now, not what “could be”.
Totally agree and yes it sets a precedent because there is another development that wants to build South on AIA on the parcel where you turn to 95 via Hammock Dunes bridge and now what would stop them from getting approval. This development is a nightmare we live across the street and just to cross A1A now with traffic is pretty bad and now with 50 homes all entering and exiting on Jungle Hut as well as school buses, etc will not be pretty. We bought in the Hammocks because we loved the trees and the peace, now we know that in 5 years this place will be another South Florida! Shame on these 3 Commissioners and yes I will remember voting time!
Time to vote these losers out of office. I just wonder what kind of kick back they got.
Amy Emm says
Maybe Mullins can move out of that trailer that he currently says he lives in.
If I am reading this right. This new PUD is not a gated community protected by HOA documents. Then how can developer state that these new single family homes will not be vacation rentals?
Ron Huxtable says
you can bet that’s what they’ll become.
Ron Huxtable says
i’m betting it was substantial.
Willy Boy says
Sullivan, Mullins, O’Brien. Have you no shame?
Sullivan, Mullins, O’Brien I bet they don’t live in the Hammock so they DON”T care. These three are the token commissioners, working for the developers, working for that next check, or perk. They could careless what the residents of the Hammock think. They continue to demonstrate that they are IN bed with developers that also don’t care, IN IT FOR THE MONEY.
big john says
wow to think i voted for one of these guys………..
I am sorry for the Hammock but I am sorrier for Palm Coast’s dilapidated neighborhoods due to lack of code enforcement and concern.. The mayor is more interested in concentrated low income housing at the “town center.”
Job creators…well done commissioners. Now let’s get The Gardens project rolling and business be a boomin!
I hope you are being sarcastic.
Paul Long says
Our gullible commissioners. Taken in by the developer’s assertion that the cost of the sewer line of $380,000 is too expensive to do so they would go with septic if they have fewer than 50 lots to build on. Wouldn’t it be nice if the commissioners asked what would the 36 septic systems cost and would their prospective buyers really buy a tiny house on a tiny lot with a septic field and can you even have a septic field on such a small lot.
We need to replace the three commissioners that voted yes with three commissioners that have more smarts and have the interest of their constituents in mind when they vote and not the interest of the profit motivation of out of county developers.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
We had an outstanding alternative to vote for in the last commissioners election, but that candidate didn’t have a war chest funded by developers and other fat cats, so not enough people were aware of the person’s excellent credentials and willingness to represent the people’s voice. Next time pay very close attention. Flagler taxpayers should have NO confidence in the current bunch.
Edith Campins says
Shame on these three stooges. Remember this next election.
Angela Vargas says
So many run down and vacant houses in PC, and vacant lots. Why allow 50 new homes crammed in to an undeveloped area? Develop the vacant lots that are plentiful and located within areas that have already been developed. This is about one thing: money. Developers save money when they build 50 homes in one spot versus 50 vacant lots on existing streets throughout PC. And where the hell are all these home buyers coming from and where the hell are they going to work?! Traffic is already a nightmare. The Hammock doesn’t need a sardine can development. This is definitely opening the flood gates. Shame on them for approving this. Now those of us who are against it need to get our asses to the polls to vote them out. Enough is enough.
Janet Soto says
I am saddened that the man I voted for, the man who contacted us during problem times, would stoop to this unnecessary build. I am quite disappointed.
Wildlife friend says
I used to live rt down the street from this planned development. There are indeed Gopher Tortoises, among other wildlife, that live in those woods. It’s a damn shame that they will be forced to move, probably into human’s backyards, or worse, killed. Hopefully they won’t just bury the Gopher Torts in their burrows & build over the top of them like they did in so many other places. I’m sure the wildlife didn’t even come into consideration at this meeting. Smfh
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Can anyone answer how many of the county commissioners even live in Flagler County, and I don’t mean a Mailboxes Etc. address? It should be mandatory for Flagler commissioners to live full-time in our county. I’m still not convinced that Joe Mullins isn’t “just visiting” from time to time and actually still lives in his longtime Georgia residence. I hear he’s very particular about the renters he allows into his Georgia rental properties. I wish he would exercise the same care and consideration when voting for either the conservation vs. destruction of irreplaceable wooded land in Flagler. That picture at the top of the page says it all for me. Two smug old geezers who think they’re so much better than the riff raff who pay their overly generous salaries, and the classroom dunce who’s watching the school clock to see how many more minutes till he can bolt out the door.
Joy Ellis says
This approval was a stinging loss to The Hammock community. Beachwalk does not meet the Flagler County guidelines for the definition of the PUD or for the density which the Commissioners approved. They were right the first time when they denied the PUD request and the development. An increase in the buffers does not make it PUD worthy. The idea that the offer of the developer to extend sewers should change their minds doesn’t make sense. In other communities, the government will work for a better offer from the developer. In Flagler County, it doesn’t work that way. County staff works for the developers, not the citizens.
This development, one block from the bridge, will cause evacuation to be more difficult. It is being added where there is already traffic congestion in that location.
Save Palm Coast says
Sullivan and O’Brien Have done nothing but reck palm coast. Even in their own districts they have trashed their own/me.
Their motto is “Take down others to bring myself up”
Old Hammock Resident says
Rest assured there’s something lucrative in this for O’Brien, Sullivan and Mullins. Keep destroying the beachside community you inept politicians.