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Palm Coast Toughs: Fake Pot Banned, Garage Sales Watched, Woodlands Development a Go

| September 18, 2012

Blare Drive, as it ends at Colbert Lane, will not be as green when an assisted living facility is built to the south (or the right). (© FlaglerLive)

The Palm Coast City Council’s five men played the tough guys Tuesday.

With almost total unanimity, the council on Sept. 18 conclusively adopted a series of ordinances that now prohibit the sale of so-called synthetic pot in Palm Coast, more strictly regulate and track garage sales in the city, and open the way to a vast and high-rising commercial development on the green edges of the Woodlands, along Colbert Lane. Four of the five ordinances were approved on second reading, making them the equivalent of local laws. The fifth is assured similar treatment in two weeks.

Aside from two brief comments–one of them by a man suggesting that the logical place to address the issue was by state legislation–the ordinance banning the sale of synthetic pot and so-called “bath salts” drew little public interest. The council heard a presentation it had heard before at a workshop, from a school deputy, who reiterated numerous statements about synthetic marijuana that were more provocative than proven: the cop himself acknowledged that much about synthetic port is unknown, though specific chemicals used to manufacture the packets that go by names like K-2 and Spice have been banned by federal and Florida law. Manufacturers get around the bans by combining new chemical cocktails. The results can be either benign or dangerous, based on the mix, though cases of dangerous exposure to synthetic marijuana are few and mostly anecdotal. The issue has not yet drawn more than tangential attention from the Centers for Disease Control.

“This is a big deal and it’s far worse than marijuana would ever be,” council member Bill McGuire said, his statement no more conclusively demonstrable than those that had preceded it. (Details on the synthetic pot issue here and here.)

The unusual feature of the ordinance was Palm Coast’s willingness essentially to prohibit legal products from sale in the city, by legally established merchants. Violators would be asked to remove the stuff rom their shelves by code enforcement officers, or face a $300-a-day fine. Last week in a workshop the city manager told council members that legal challenges were possible but unlikely, and the mayor, Jon Netts, said he’d welcome a legal challenge. The ordinance passed, 5-0. It must be approved again in two weeks before it takes effect.

The remaining four ordinances—three of which were related to the same development along Colbert Lane—had this in common: they were mostly opposed by the public, but, with one exception, wholeheartedly supported by the council.

One was the ordinance regulating garage sales. Council member Jason DeLorenzo had reported to the council that he was receiving word from residents complaining of chronic garage sales on certain lots. The city bans more than two garage sales per lot per year, but had no mechanism to enforce the ban. The new ordinance requires lot dwellers to register their garage sale with the city, which will then publicize the garage sale on the city’s website, but also keep track of sales held each year. Initially the city was going to require a $5 registration fee. Public opposition compelled the council to drop the fee, but keep the permitting system in place.

The ordinance passed on second reading, 4-1. Council member Frank Meeker was the lone dissenter. He argued that the very few problem lots could be addressed and tracked by the existing system. He was not pleased by the city’s broad-brush, Big Brother approach. (Details here and here.)

The three other ordinances related to the so-called Grand Living development, by Jim Cullis, the developer of Grand Haven, who’s looking to build an assisted living facility and a commercial strip on the southeast flank of the Woodlands in Palm Coast—between that old subdivision and the northern end of Colbert Lane. Some 25,000 square feet of commercial space aside, the development would potentially result in about half a dozen buildings, some of them 60 feet high, with more than 200 residents plus their support staff. The development is strongly opposed by Woodlands residents on many grounds, as well as residents outside the Woodlands, some of whom raised issues with the legality of the way the city went about reversing its own land regulations: some of the land is being rezoned from conservation to commercial, in exchange with the developer adding more conservation land elsewhere. But the city’s long-range land-use maps had given Woodlands residents the impression—the legal certainty, in the residents’ eyes—that the conservation land in question would remain in conservation in perpetuity.

It was not the first time that the council reversed just such certainties, nor is it likely to be the last. (Details here and here.)

Matt Hathaway, a Woodlands resident who’s led the opposition, raised questions about Palm Coast’s assertion that the land-use changes for the project had been approved by the St. Johns River Water Management District. “I’d like to make it very clear,” Hathaway said, “the letter they went over was always brought to us as an approval from the district. It is not an approval.” He said the letter was an outline of the guidelines to be followed, “not a blessing.” The district, he said, “is willing to listen to our concerns.”

“They too share our concerns in relations to flooding, specifically in the Woodlands, and also have extreme interest in the current flooding that’s occurred recently in the Woodlands,” Hathaway said. Large tracts of forested land paralleling Blair Drive in the Woodlands—land the development will rise on—is currently under water, as it usually is during the wet season. That area would be filled in by the development, with enormous volumes of fill. Woodlands residents fear that the water pooling in that area will inevitably wash over their neighborhoods, which are also prone to flooding now.

The project has its supporters, especially among elderly residents or Realtors who see a need in Palm Coast for more assisted living facilities. But the facility Cullis is proposing would be, like most such facilities, high-end—that is, charging residents $2,500 to $4,000 a month, more when they have special needs—money that must be paid out of pocket since neither Medicaid nor Medicare cover residency in assisted living facilities. Only wealthy residents are capable of affording the rates.

The project drew more than opposition from one Palm Coast resident—Dennis McDonald, who just ran unsuccessfully for the county commission, and who announced at the meeting that he would be launching a campaign to amend the city’s charter and, by referendum, call for replacing the city manager and the mayor with a “strong-mayor” form of government.

“We will present the questions for referendum as soon as I can have [a] lawyer review the terminology,” McDonald said.

The Grand Living ordinances all passed unanimously.

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13 Responses for “Palm Coast Toughs: Fake Pot Banned, Garage Sales Watched, Woodlands Development a Go”

  1. old surfer says:

    you can’t legislate morality…..having said that, how does a city commission tell a retal business it can’t sell something that’s legal??…once again the people that buy that crap can get it in bunnell, flagler beach,ormond beach,etc., and once again palm coast can say ‘bye bye’ to the tax revenue….but hell,they have red light cameras for that.

    • ol' sarge says:

      yeah, thats right…I am sure the tax revenue gained from the 99cent packets outweighs the fact that K2 causes seizures and periods of unconsciousness…way to prioritize.

  2. anon says:

    How can a town councilor who is also a builder’s lobbyist cast an objective vote on issues of development?
    Shouldn’t he abstain?

    Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

    • Magnolia says:

      I doubt many people here even KNOW the builder’s lobbyist is on the town council.

      Does anybody know if he ever has abstained on a vote?

      These poor people in the Woodlands….only an endangered species in those woods will save them now. Any construction there involving this much concrete can be guaranteed to flood their neighborhood.

      Everybody on that council is owned by the builders here. Say goodbye to all the sensitive and beautiful lands here in Palm Coast. Thanks to your council, they are about to be replaced by concrete, 5 story high concrete.

  3. tulip says:

    To me this project is a money making scheme for the landowner, realtors, builders and developers. Sure, temporarily it will create jobs, but there is no guarantee the workers will be from Flagler County.

    Somebody said that the perfect place for that would be Town Center, as it is wide open and close to the hospital. I agree with that idea. Of course that wouldn’t benefit the landowners of the other one.

    Of all the years I’ve heard the council be aware and protective of flood zones and wetlands, this bunch has just ignored it. Yes, DiLorenzo should not have been involved, but hey, The Chamber of Commerce and realtors have taken hold in PC Council and will the BOCC also in Nov.

    I also wish someone would build an AFFORDABLE Senior complex that didn’t charge the horrendous amounts they do. With The ones we have now, . Only wealthy people, or someone who sold their home can live there. Anywhere from 36,000 to $50,000 a year is insane. A few hundred thousand can disappear in 2 to 5 years.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    Does the council really think that the people who have been holding illegal garage sales in violation of city code are suddenly going to comply with city code to register their illegal garage sales to make it easier to catch them just because the city passed a new ordinance? They’ve already demonstrated that they have complete disregard for city code and its enforcement! Now they’ll just be breaking two rules instead of one! Idiots.

    Excuse me while I go bang my head on my desk. It’s less painful than reading about the PC city council meetings.

  5. Lin says:

    Yes, the money-making scheme is truly awful. Money that might come into the economy here in Palm Coast that doesn’t come from the government largesse raising our taxes and putting us further in debt, giving the govt more control of our lives. Isn’t it awful that there are more jobs created, more taxes paid. Yes, a trade in conservation lands. Good point that this is for wealthy people that can afford it, a dose of class warfare to advance the disucussion. People that have achieved some measure of success in life don’t deserve to enjoy it. Let’s redistribute instead.

    And why would a developer build in Town Center when he owns land on the east side of the city. When someone has a business to develop property whether in the Woodland or elsewhere, is that a bad thing automatically. What about the developer of the Woodlands or wherever? No animals displaced then?
    There are already senior centers on the west side.

  6. Lonewolf says:

    Uh oh, what am I going to do if I want to take a bath?

  7. Anonymous says:

    i watched the city commission meeting regarding this new retirement home on brighthouse and never seen the arrogance like i saw with this mayor of palm coast…NEVER IN MY FREAKING LIFE!!!!

  8. Herb Whitaker says:

    You hit 4 of the 5 objections I have to the Grand Haven project. The 4 you mention are spot on.. The one you forgot and which is the big one for me, and the reason I spoke at the meeting yesterday is the water that will be shed from this project. There was a lady there who lives in the Woodlands and said that flooding in her neighborhood since Wild Oaks was built and the water shed there from the build up of the land comes into her neighborhood. I have serious concerns that the same thing will happen when the development order hearings are held, I plan to be there to speak my concerns. I think the 16 ac conservation tract they established will run all of the water there, but it abuts houses on Black Alder (I believe is the street) and will probably stretch further into the Woodlands. While the builder has the rights to his private property uses, it cannot be at the detriment to the residents of another area, especially an area that is one of the legacy areas of Palm Coast (but not exclusive to this type neighborhood).

  9. Joe E says:

    Glad I only rent…I can move out of Palm Coast until 2016 then maybe those on the council will be gone.

  10. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    What does the city care about the end result. They’ll receive mega impact fees whether the thing is a hit or not, maybe even squeeze a few goodies out of the developer why they are at it. When it fails they have their impact fees and will blame the economy just ask European Village, Ginn and the the rest of the empty structures here.

  11. This is BS says:

    It rained for about 40 minutes today and there is still water holding in the swailes in the Woodlands. It’s greed, that’s all. The perks that get worked in, the money, the face and name recognition blah blah blah. It’s so old already it makes sick.
    Don’t even give the bull s**t line about creating jobs and all that crap either. How many contractors that have been used to do the major construction projects in flagler we’re actually contracted out of this county? It’s always Orlando or Jacksonville, or whatever. Come on people, get real. You really think the residents are going to get an employment boost out of this. (I’m doing that thing right now that kids do when you stick out your tongue and blow to make that noise)
    And who lets the builders lobbyist cast a vote?….. Palm Coast does. Be proud of this place, it just gets better and better.
    What’s going on here, does anyone have morals, values, and humility anymore?
    Why don’t you spend a night walking down these streets and observe all the animals that live there? Oh, I forgot, we don’t care about anything but ourselves anymore. Great, can’t wait for my children to grow up into this.
    Can your parents or grandparents afford $4000 a month plus other expenses, remember Medicaid and Medicare doesnt cover it.

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