The rezoning for a 23-acre site for a future self-storage facility–another one–between I-95 and Old Kings Road, and not far from the Hidden Lakes and Toscana subdivisions, drew some pointed opposition from nearby residents and people with family at a neighboring assisted living facility. The self-storage grounds would also accommodate RV’s and boats, neither of which may be parked in Palm Coast driveways.
But the Palm Coast City Council approved the rezoning in a 4-1 vote at high noon today.
Seville-based Roy Hubbard of OKR Investors, a two-year-old company, bought the seven-parcel acreage in 2018 for $2.5 million. It was zoned for office-type development. He sold part of the acquisition to the developer who built Gold Choice Assisted Living facility, which opened last year. Early last year Jay Livingston, the land-use attorney representing OKR, sought a rezoning that would have allowed building duplexes in the six parcels. The Palm Coast Planning Board rejected the application.
OKR then sought to rezone two parcels from office to general commercial, with a special exception that would allow for a self-storage facility, those facilities not being allowed in general commercial.
City Attorney Bill Reischmann told council members that their role was limited: “Based upon the substantial competent evidence you heard today, do you believe that one of the factors which goes to compatibility of this property, this proposed development, to all of the surrounding properties–is that compatible?” Council members decided it was.
“I haven’t heard anything today that goes against a single point of the land use code and that’s how I’m facing my decision today,” Council member Nick Klufas said before casting his vote for the rezoning and special exception, along with Mayor David Alfin and Council members Eddie Branquinho and Ed Danko. Victor Barbosa voted against.
Residents who addressed the council were unanimously opposed.
Patti Quick spoke of the residents at the assisted living facility, one of them being a relation of hers, and how “we throw our elderly away,” she said, arguing that the storage facility will make them fearful, though it wasn’t clear how that would be the case–or how the curviness of Old Kings Road, to which she also alluded, would play into the equation. Bob Scholes of Hidden Lake, like several others who spoke after him, opposed the development, both for “noise and safety.” He said Old Kings Road will become more dangerous. He called it a “boondoggle” and said voters will react accordingly. John Burton, another Hidden Lakes resident, rejected the notion that the facility would be aesthetically pleasing or would reduce noise from the highway.
Others complained about how the council would change zoning after they themselves, as homeowners, had investigated surrounding zoning before buying their properties–and relying on that zoning to make their decision. One resident was especially critical of the special exception, and a Realtor, Jane Gentile-Youd, who lives in Plantation Bay (and is a county commission candidate), a significant distance from the site, said the city was exposing itself to legal liability. Reischmann said “there is no statutory or case law existing, period, to support that allegation.”
“The need for storage, if it is attractive, if it is hidden from view, if it makes provisions for Old Kings Road changing to a four lane highway and still keeping from view anything that does not look attractive,” would be acceptable, another resident said. Linda Charboneau, a Hidden Lakes resident, said the facility would draw trucks that will damage Old Kings Road and lower property values, though there is no evidence that a storage facility lowers property values.
There is ample evidence of storage facilities being a very good business–so good that Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, became an investor in 2020–and of such facilities being in high demand. Livingston in his presentation included a comparison of average monthly costs for self-storage in Daytona Beach ($185), St. Augustine ($176) and Jacksonville ($159) to argue that the Palm Coast market could use added competition, since the three facilities he listed averaged $262 a month. (See: “Here, There, Everywhere: Why Self-Storage Facilities Are Booming All Over Flagler, and Will Keep Booming.”)
David Butler, one of the applicants seeking the rezoning, responded to the residents’ concerns. He said claims that self-storage facilities draw crime are false. He said he acquired data from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to conclude that crime was more concentrated in residential areas than in self-storage facilities. He based his conclusion on a calculation of crimes reported that involved any of the 4,480 self-storage units analyzed, compared with the 34,700 single-family residences analyzed. In 2021, he reported 653 crimes involving single-family homes, or a 1.9 percent crime rate, and 14 crimes in self-storage units, or a rate of 0.32 percent.
“A residential property has a 6.2 times greater chance of experiencing crime than does a self storage unit,” Butler said. “So the canard that self storage is a hotbed of crime or it’s axiomatic that there is crime in self-storage that is greater than in residential is not true based upon the statistics from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office records.” (His next claim was not as logical: “what that means is that self storage versus residential actually reduces crime by 84 percent,” he claimed. Not exactly, though he may have simply have used the wrong terminology: there is no crime currently in the woods that he plans to level for the self-storage facility, and by his own calculations, there will be crime, albeit a very small amount of crime, once the facility is built. So inevitably, there will be a measurable increase in crime in the self-storage zone–albeit nowhere near the crime that may occur, say, at Hidden Lakes or Toscana.
Butler also countered the claim that the project was creating urban sprawl. “There are no extension of public facilities in regards to this project,” he said. “This is an urban corridor, sewer, water stormwater irrigation water are already in the streets. There is a very clear separation between urban and rural uses. In fact, there are no rural uses within a mile of this project.” He said whenever residential development goes up, the need for self-storage, including storage for boats and RVs, increases. “We believe that this will in fact meet the need.” Car trips will be reduced, compared to what would have happened there if there were office or commercial developments. Even I-95 noise will be reduced, since the storage facility will create a buffer for the residences to the east.
Aesthetically, the facility will not look like a self-storage facility, he said, and will include perimeter walls, with all the storage facilities facing inward: they will not be visible from the roads.