Plans are being laid out to stretch Citation Boulevard from Belle Terre Boulevard all the way to Seminole Woods Boulevard, creating one of those rare east-west thru-ways in Palm Coast, and possibly saving the city the need to build a firehouse, at least in the longer run.
The plan is part of a land-swap deal with a developer planning to build 450 single-family homes on 229 acres immediately south of the Flagler County airport. The city owns 11.6 acres in the same area–area the developer needs to acquire to complete its plan. So the city and developer have agreed to a swap: the city will cede the 11.6 acres. In exchange, the developer, Delray Beach-based Kolter Group, will cede the right of way, stormwater ponds and anything else needed to build the Citation Boulevard extension through the Kolter property.
The developer has also agreed to pay, up-front, all its transportation impact fees–$1.6 million worth, thus enabling the city to build the Citation Parkway extension simultaneously with the development’s construction. Impact fees alone will not pay for the extension. But the project is critical enough for the city that it it has vaulted to the top of its transportation priorities. Additional impact fees will be used to complete the financing.
Impact fees are the one-time levy developers pay on each new house or commercial development to defray the cost of that development on roads, fire departments, parks, water and sewer, schools and so on. When a developer builds a single-family house in Palm Coast, the transportation impact fee is $3,139. The developer will be entitled to some water and sewer impact fee credits in so far as its own improvements aid in the construction of the extension. (“This is nothing special. This is what we have done for other developers as well,” Ray Tyner, the deputy development director, said.)
It’s all a rather unique deal allowing the developer to build a large development while opening a road that will significantly improve transportation flow between Quail Hollow and Seminole Woods, both for residents and public safety, while delaying the need for added fire house protection on both sides of the city, thus potentially saving the city several million dollars.
“In 2020, the fire department provided the fire station location study and showed that we would need a fire station on Belle Terre and another fire station on Seminole Woods because there was no access between the two arterials, and you could not make the response time work with just one,” Jason deDeLorenzo, the city’s development director, told the city council this morning during a workshop as he outlined the swap deal.
In the 10-year plan he was referring to, which the Palm Coast Fire Department issued last year, the department did recommend “that city council move forward with building and staffing a new fire station on Seminole Woods Boulevard.” The plan did not actually propose a Belle Terre station as unequivocally, especially since the county’s Station 92 serves that area, with backing from Palm Coast. But there are concerns. “Four of the five districts in this vicinity averaged greater than 7 minute arrival in 2019,” the report stated. “There were 27 calls for service when the response took longer than ten minutes.” The department’s goal is 4 minutes or less for first-response times. “The recommendation is for staff to continue to monitor this area and consider alternative deployment strategies to meet the demand for service in this area in a way consistent with city council expectations and national response standards.”
The addition of a Seminole Woods fire station would address those concerns: when the development department submitted its concept of a Citation Boulevard extension, the Fire Department returned a projection of an average response time of six minutes and 15 seconds for both zones. “That’s why this is such a benefit to the public and the long term costs of the city,” DeLorenzo said.
“The Citation Extension will significantly decrease the response time for fire and other emergency response, and it will eliminate the need to construct two separate fire stations to serve the areas along Seminole Woods Boulevard and U.S. 1, resulting in significant cost savings to the city,” the contract between the city and the developer states.
The developer’s willingness to pay impact fees up front is not a small step. It’s to the city’s advantage of course. It allows the city to build the Citation Boulevard extension “years sooner than anticipated,” in the words of the agreement between the city and the developer. “With construction costs rising, constructing Citation Extension now with Developer’s pre-paid impact fees rather than later when those fees are due under the statute and code saves the City construction costs.” The city wants to build the Citation extension simultaneously with the development–specifically, seeking bids within 15 days Kolter’s phase 1 preliminary plat’s approval.
It is also a statement of confidence by the developer that the project is not only going forward from a permitting standpoint, but that the developer will build all 450 homes, since it needs some of those those homes to recoup the impact fees it’s paying. (It doesn’t need all: the median price of a new home in Palm Coast today is $300,000 and climbing–it was $255,000 just a year ago–making home-building an extremely lucrative proposition, with or without impact fees.)
There are other advantages to the swap as far as the city is concerned. Initially all the entrances and exits from the development were to have been on Seminole Woods Boulevard. With the Citation extension, the five entrances and exits can be spread out.
The closing date is key, Tyner said, but that’s not been set: a lot of technical questions have yet to be answered, including the exact trajectory of the road. Engineering and environmental assessments are still ahead.
There are also open questions about how residents will of Palm Coast’s LL section will react. There aren’t too many homes along the existing Citation Boulevard, but it grazes seven streets as its current and future track crosses the section. Residential neighborhoods are not friendly to through traffic. Citation Boulevard will be the equivalent of a Royal Palms Parkway or a Whiteview Parkway, with much heavier traffic than residents on those seven streets are used to: the three streets east of Laguna Forest Trail, where Citation currently ends–Llobel Place, Lloret Place and Llovera Place–have no traffic to speak of other than their own. Citation’s extension is not likely to link to them when completed, but traffic’s noise will increase–and Citation currently does link to Llama Trail and Laguna Forest.
Council member Eddie Branquinho pointed out just that concern. “The only thing that concerns me a little bit, which is not much anyway, it’s a positive traffic impact,” he said. “The residents around the area need to be contacted. Because I don’t want this to end up in another Slow Way fiasco.” He was referring to the city’s proposed closure of the tiny street known as Slow Way at the south end of the city, a proposal that un leashed a backlash from residents, taking the city’s administration and the council by surprise. But the administration had not entirely prepared the groundwork for the closure, its contact with local residents having been limited.
DeLorenzo said the extension is going through a currently undeveloped portion, which is accurate in terms of the area to be developed. But Citation is still grazing those few streets before it reaches that portion.
DeLorenzo’s and Tyner’s presentation today was designed to preview the three business items related to the proposal, including a rezoning of the developer’s land. Those items will all be submitted to the city council at its Nov. 2 meeting. The council had no objections to any of the proposals.
Kolter is responsible for extending, improving and upgrading all utilities required at Seminole Palms, including all water, sewer and recycling lines, which will be be donated to the city at no charge at the city’s request. Kolter will also be responsible for the costs of the Seminole Woods Boulevard turning lanes and other improvements required by the development of Seminole Palms. The city would still be responsible for any portion of the Seminole Woods Boulevard improvements not connected to the new development.