The Palm Coast City Council this morning agreed to postpone consideration of a controversial rezoning application that would result in the addition of 483 apartments and housing units near Palm Coast Resort’s 72-unit apartment tower.
The city’s planning department is recommending against approval of the application, considering the number of requested units double the allowable total, placing the project outside the parameters of the city’s comprehensive plan. The applicant, developer Jim Jacoby’s JDI Palm Coast, disputes the city’s analysis and the way it’s calculating density.
The proposal has twice gone before the city’s planning board, an advisory body. It has twice faced near-unanimous opposition from throngs of residents in and around the Harborside area. “All or nearly all speakers had concerns with the project and their concerns primarily involved: project density and number of units, building height, traffic, stormwater and flooding issues, utility concerns, and lack of specific development plans by the developer,” a briefing memo on the item states.
The Planning board postponed a decision the first time, hoping that the city and the applicant could reach a compromise. They did not. The planning board then unanimously recommended against approval, sending the matter to the City Council.
“We received a request from the applicant to continue this matter to a date certain in the future but the city council dates have not been fully set yet,” City Attorney Neysa Borkert said this morning.
“We intend to resubmit a revised Master Planned Development Agreement to you and your staff,” Jay Livingston, the applicant’s attorney, wrote Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s development director, on Monday. “The continuance will provide time for you and your staff to review the revisions and for any additional discussions needed before it is finalized this week, well in advance of City Council’s consideration.”
That suggests the applicant may have become convinced that the proposal as presented to the planning board would fail before the council, and that it is now considering a set of conditions the city proposed, making the application more palatable. It is also possible that the election played at least some role in the delay, because two new council members will be seated then: Cathy Heighter and Theresa Pontieri, replacing John Fanelli and Eddie Branquinho. It isn’t known how the new members will see the proposal. But it was almost certain that Branquinho would have voted against it, as he has every proposal he deems too intense.
The new council members are sworn in the evening of Dec. 6.
In her Live interview before the election, Pontieri spoke of development in ways that could give both sides reason to think she’d vote one way or the other. “The price of housing today is putting that dream out of reach for too many people, and the main issue is supply and demand,” she said. “As supply goes down, prices go up. So, we need to provide a little more supply to temper those prices, using the county’s Comprehensive Plan as a guide to reflect future housing, land use, transportation, and infrastructure needs. We must always consider environmental and quality of life implications that come with population growth as well.”
Heighter did not take part in the interview, but she is, like Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin, a Realtor.
Despite the postponement, some members of the public addressed the council today again to voice concerns about the proposal, like one owner of a condominium at Palm Coast Resort. “The majority of of our owners are really concerned about safety,” the owner said, citing worries about what she estimated would add up to 700 vehicles bottlenecking in and out of a single entrance. “How this amount of cars can go in and out of the area, that’s absolutely impossible. I know all of you are really concerned about safety of our people, of our residents in Palm Coast. So the [company] needs to revise the plan, that’s for sure.”
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