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Rediscovering Color, Palm Coast May Relax Restrictions on Homeowners’ Paint Schemes

| May 28, 2013

'I think the big issue is,' Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said, reflecting a question many a newcomer to Palm Coast has asked, 'I have a purple house in New Jersey, why can’t I have a purple house here.” Because Palm Coast regulates houses' color schemes just as it regulates architecture, but may become a bit more lenient on the color matter.

‘I think the big issue is,’ Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said, reflecting a question many a newcomer to Palm Coast has asked, ‘I have a purple house in New Jersey, why can’t I have a purple house here.” Because Palm Coast regulates houses’ color schemes just as it regulates architecture, but may become a bit more lenient on the color matter. (Mirsasha)

Palm Coast may get a little bit less unyielding about something many residents don’t even know the city controls: the exterior color of their house.

The city’s Business Assistance Center, along with the Flagler Home Builders Association—one of whose top executives, Jason DeLorenzo, sits on the council—are developing a plan that would better define and expand the allowance of color usage on homeowners’ outside walls, giving homeowners more flexibility to decide how to paint their property.

“What we’re trying to do here is to look at a business process and decide: can we improve upon it,” Joe Roy, the director of the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center, said. “Not that it’s right or wrong, but can we make it better—better for the customer, better for the builder, and better for the city, to make life simpler.” The esthetic principles of the city’s color regulations would stay in place. “What we’re trying to do with this is to take out some uncertainty and ambiguity that is part of the process,” and to come up with a process that “pushes the limit just a little bit.”

It’s been a vexing question, especially for people moving in from the north (or west, or south, or from just about anywhere in the free world and most of the unfree one), where one’s house color is not usually the government’s business. It is here. And the city code is rather specific, restricting architectural designs of homes, garages, sheds and other structures, and outlining color schemes down to coordination requirements and what earth tones or pastels may be used.

For example, “Earth tones include shades of brown, taupe, beige, and gray. Acceptable earth tone shades shall have a Munsell lightness value of 30 or greater.” (The Munsell color system is named after its inventor, who defined the way the eye reacts to color according to such things as lightness and hue.)  See the restriction’s details below.

Custom-home builders are driving the issue. Customers who  buy a custom-built house typically think they get to decide what the color of their house will be, until the builder disabuses them of the assumption. That dims the notion of having a custom-built house.

Palm Coast isn’t about to go Miami Beach on its house walls. But if the council eventually approves a more colorful version of the code in August (the city’s planning board takes a first crack at the plan in July), it will relax its current regulations a bit.

The administration will finalize the proposal with the Business Assictance Center then submit it to the planning board. It will consist of new color schemes that supplement what’s in the code already. Deed-restricted subdivisions that already have regulations in place would be exempted. That includes home-owner associations, whose regulations can approximate the rigidity of old East German edicts (think Hidden Lakes, Grand Haven, Grand Landings, Covington Garden, and so on). The target audience will be the hapless homeowner who is not aware of existing rules but may want to try a new color.

Bill Lewis, the city council’s code-enforcer-in-chief, was worried that the proposal would drench Palm Coast in rainbow colors. That’s not the plan, Roy reassured him.

“What we’re trying to do is stay within what the code defines today, right?” Roy said. “But when you get into some of the colors, some of the colors are so close that when you look at them you might say, is that pastel or is that something different? To one eye it may look one way, to another eye it may look another way. When you take them as looking at the main color and accent colors, I think that what we’re trying to do is to get at something that’s very pleasing to the eye that meets within the city code, and maybe this becomes a supplement to what the code is, at there are pre-approved colors that someone is looking to buy a custom home, might say, well, I prefer something just a little bit different. But these are very close.”

“Like yellow?” Lewis said, presumably seeing red.

“No yellows, unless there’s something out there already existing as yellow,” Roy said.

Bill McGuire. (© FlaglerLive) palm coast city council

Bill McGuire. (© FlaglerLive)

Bill McGuire suggested a mechanism to better educate the public on the city’s color code. “I know a lot of people, myself included, came from communities up north where if you wanted to paint your house, you went down to Central Hardware, you bought whatever color you liked and that’s what you painted it,” McGuire said. “My wife and I bought our house in Palm Coast some years ago and nobody ever told me—of course it’s a brick home, so I’m not planning on painting it—but nobody ever told me what I could and couldn’t [paint it], and the people that I represent that I’ve talked to have had issues with what they wanted to do relative to the color of their house are simply unaware that there even is a code of restrictions. So I think a very important part of this process that would guide it to success would be a program whereby the citizens are made aware of the fact that there are codes in this city of Palm Coast, and here is what they are.”

Nets wants the proposal to go further. Once residents have learned of the restrictions, their next logical question would be what colors are in and what aren’t. He’d like to see the city develop a web page that illustrates the pre-approved color schemes rather than just outline restrictions in words that may still have subjective interpretations. “We need to have clarity,” the mayor said.

He reminded the council of the case of the single mother who a year ago was fortunate enough to have her neighbors and friends get together to paint the outside of her house for her, out of charity—only to find out that the chosen color was not allowable. She couldn’t neither afford to paint the house in the first place nor ask her benefactors to do the job over. Clearer, more accessible and flexible rules would help.

The council Tuesday morning gave Roy and the administration the go-ahead. (DeLorenzo and City Manager Jim Landon were absent from the meeting.)

“This probably will not bring the city down in ashes,” Netts said. “On the other hand, if we can make things easier for our residents, easier for our homebuilders, and easier for our paint supply stores, why not?”

Palm Coast’s Architectural Design Regulations: Sec. 13.02. – General Requirements.

The following architectural design requirements shall apply to all new development and construction, redevelopment, and alterations to existing structures within the City. Alterations shall include any change, addition, or modification including, but not limited to, repainting, that affects any of the elements governed by these architectural design criteria.

13.02.01. Architectural styles.

 The City has identified several recognized architectural styles for the design of buildings within the City. One of the following styles shall be used in the design of a nonresidential building. Applicable styles include Spanish Mission, Mediterranean, Italianate, Colonial, Neoclassical, Greek Revival, Modern, Craftsman, and Florida Vernacular.

13.02.02. Green building.

 Green building principles related to energy efficiency, resource protection, and environmental protection (e.g. reusable building materials, light colored roof materials, living roofs to treat stormwater, etc.) set forth by agencies such as, but not limited to, the United States Green Building Council and similar agencies are encouraged.

13.02.03. Coastal building visual relief. 

Buildings within 300 feet of the Intracoastal Waterway shoreline shall be oriented to provide one foot of unobstructed view to the waterfront for each three feet of view obstructed by the building.

13.02.04. Garages.

 Garages that are detached from the principal structure shall be designed and constructed so that the roof and exterior walls of the garage are of similar architecture, materials, and colors as the exterior of the principal structure.

13.02.05. Accessory structures. 

The roof, exterior walls, and exterior colors of accessory structures, excluding prefabricated sheds, shall be compatible with the design of the principal structure. Accessory structures must meet the requirements as set forth in Chapters 3 and 4.

13.02.06. Exterior colors.

Colors of walls, roofing, and accents such as trim and doors, shall be coordinated to achieve a visually and aesthetically positive effect consistent with sound and generally accepted land development principles and practices. While varieties of natural and painted colors are permitted, certain color principles shall be followed. The range of roofing materials and colors allowed for residential and nonresidential uses shall be as described in this section.


Measurement of color. The appropriateness of proposed building colors shall be determined using the Munsell color system or an equivalent methodology. The Munsell color system allows precise documentation of colors using an alphanumeric code to describe the color attributes of hue (pigmentation), value (lightness/darkness), and chroma (color intensity).


Light pastel colors and white. Acceptable light pastel colors and white shall have a Munsell lightness value of 80 or greater.


Earth tones. Earth tones include shades of brown, taupe, beige, and gray. Acceptable earth tone shades shall have a Munsell lightness value of 30 or greater.


Fluorescent colors prohibited. Fluorescent colors shall be prohibited on all exterior surfaces. Neon lighting is not included within the term “fluorescent.” Colors that are deemed loud or garish shall be prohibited.


Colors without a Munsell value. If the Munsell lightness value of a color sample is not available, the Land Use Administrator shall compare the color sample to a color chip with a known Munsell lightness value and determine whether the sample is lighter, darker, or equivalent.


Building color combination. Each building is allowed to have a maximum of three colors, excluding unpainted natural stone, brick, and roof materials or natural appearing substitutes:


Wall colors. One color shall be selected for the main surface of the building.


Accent colors. Accent colors should offer some contrast and can therefore be darker, lighter, brighter, or richer than wall colors. However, the main consideration in choosing accent colors shall be compatibility with the wall color. Two accent colors shall be allowed per building. One for architectural elements such as doors, shutters, keystones, quoins, and awnings, and another color shall be used for details, such as window trims, windows, door frames, window sills, cornices, and banding. Accent colors shall complement the building’s wall color.


Roof color. Roof color shall be compatible with the selected wall color. Roofs may be in the color of natural roofing materials (such as slate or clay) or may be finished in shades of gray, galvanized silver, copper, brown, green, red, black, blue, or white, except that a roof made of copper may be left in its natural color. Lighter colored roof materials, such as white or galvanized raised seam metal, are strongly recommended for energy efficiency purposes.


Faux building features. It is prohibited to paint faux features or elements of a structure such as, but not limited to, windows, doors, shutters, or flower boxes.


Repainting. When repairs are being made to the building’s exterior wall surface, the wall may be repainted in the same color or another approved color. When repainting any portion of the building’s exterior, the structure shall be painted in the same color or a color approved by the City.


13.02.07. Exterior material/finishes.


Exterior walls. Exterior wall finish materials shall include stucco, stone, natural brick, finished concrete, split-faced block, wood, or other material including, but not limited to, synthetic materials similar in appearance and durability to those previously named. Finishes of exposed concrete block or corrugated metal are prohibited.


Roofs. Roof material visible from the ground shall consist of concrete, slate, or clay tiles, asphalt fiberglass shingles, or metal standing seam. Residential uses may also have cedar shake wood. To allow for the introduction of new roofing materials of similar quality and appearance, the Land Use Administrator may maintain a supplementary list of acceptable roofing materials.

Source: The Palm Coast Land Development Code

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19 Responses for “Rediscovering Color, Palm Coast May Relax Restrictions on Homeowners’ Paint Schemes”

  1. palmcoastpioneers says:

    1972 – ‘ …An approach to a New City: Palm Coast…’ by Dr. J. Norman Young and Stanley Dea – The Palm Coast Project

    Page 142

    The Matter of Architectural Standards

    At Palm Coast there are strict covenants and restrictions with regard to residenses. These include strictures with regard to setbacks, lot size, building size, peripheral structures, fences and hedges, and signs. In addition to abiding by thee there will be less disharmony in optical output than would otherwise be the case.

    One could dwell in great depth on the criteria of architectural approval. Who should be the judge? This is a matter for internal company taste standards and aesthetic sensitivity.

    Going to experts on the outside is clearly impossible because the experts disagree with each other. One thinks of some differences between Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times and the now well publicized Venturis. in any case, Palm Coast houses will neither be as costly as Miss Huxtable might demand nor will they be related to the neonjunglephilia apparently espoused by the kitsch-cathected Venturis.

    In addition to health and aesthetics, the money spent to manage the environment buys cleaner laundry in the backyard, longer life for the paint on houses, and less corrosion and breakdown of electrical and other equipment . Yet citizens of existing communities are seeking better environments–in fact, they are unwilling to allow ignorance and decay to proceed unchecked. Beyond noise, fumes, and foul water, there is widespread demand for aesthetically pleasing surroundings. Offensive odors and sounds will become less and less acceptable parts of the larger community of life.

    Yes, optical pollution will be minimized. This form of pollution has less to do with soot getting in your eyes, as it does in industrial areas, than to the aesthetic beauty of the community, the eye sees the natural loveliness, sees variation in plants, in greens, in flowers, in trees. Also diversity in the numbers and types of homes that may be seen, all within strict low density criteria, and with a variation in profile to avoid monotonyreakdown of electrical and other equipment. It buys cleaner lakes and rivers for recreation. it buys, relief from annoyance; a speck of ash in one’s eye, unpleasant odors, yellowed foilage in the springtime. Inshort, the massive economic costs of pollution can be diminished given sufficient planning and technological commitment.

  2. Charles Gardner says:

    I’m pretty sure you can have any color you want in Bunnell, including no color at all.

  3. Well... says:

    The totalitarian regime of Palm Coast would have LOVED my NE PA neighborhood, especially my parent’s home. It was yellow, with black shutters, white screen doors, one red wood main door and another white door, plus a black basement door and a black metal fence. We had blue houses and white houses, houses with red trim, black trim, and pretty much whatever color the homeowner felt like. This is not a “move back up North thing” this is get the government out of my business, especially when it comes to trivial matters such as the color of my house and how about we focus on building the economy with real jobs and not just retail/sales.

  4. Ogreagain says:

    2.2 million a year the city waste with code enforcement, they can fine you, but if you never plan on selling your house, they really can’t make you do anything about it. they care more about your grass being 2 inches to long, but they don’t care if you don’t have a garage door. look theers the money to fund are schools for next year. that’s an easy fix..

  5. fla native says:

    I don’t think Palm Coast with it’s myriad of rules and regulations regarding everything under the sun has a right to tell somebody what color they can paint their house. Give me a freaking break. One day Palm Coast is going to get sued by somebody that they shouldn’t have crossed and is going to be bankrupted. This is the most smug, arrogant and out of control city I have ever seen. Sidewalks to nowhere, $125 water bills, red light cameras….Need I say more?????????

    • Nancy N. says:

      $125 water bill?!?! Mine’s rarely above $80 for three people!

      • john says:

        Rarely above $80 for 3 people?!!? Maybe if you limit showers to twice a week and save rain water to wash your dishes. I have a house of 4 with a washing machine, and my water bill is $150 a month. The months I have to add water to the pool brings my bill to $200+. The water in Palm Coast is very expensive!!

  6. Realty Check says:

    This government getting involved in issues they have no right being involved in, you own a house its yours, this is why I will never live in a development with a home owners association. If I could sell my house in PC, I would run as far away from that city as possible. The governments in the County & City are out of control, we have elected power happy morons to run our city and county. I know you need code enforcement for poorly kept up homes, but come on a yellow house is a problem? I would take a yellow house over the poorly kept up house across the street from me any day.

  7. r&r says:

    I think the regulations are fine the way they are.. How would you like living in a neighborhood with Orange, Purple, Black etc. houses.. With the radical kooks we have around this will happen.. What will be the recourse of sane people who live around these nuts..

  8. Martin says:

    Well…there goes the neighborhood. I know of 4 people on my block that would paint their homes “purple” and the doors,trim “Red”. If thats allowed to happen then the next “rainbow queenie” will want their house painted “bright orange” with “lime green” trim….Goodbye..I’m sooooo out of this city !!!!!!

  9. notasenior says:

    This sounds like government suppression of free expression. Where is the compelling government interest?

  10. kmedley says:

    So with everything facing our community, the city council is concerned about improving an issue with which they SHOULD NOT have the final word. Earth tones… we can make them better and easier to understand. Approved color schemes on a website. DIY comes to Palm Coast. Simply amazing!

  11. tulip says:

    Like the colors of the house in this article, this is what I fear will start showing up in neighborhoods. If
    the city isn’t careful. If I were buying a house and that color combo, or something just as homely was next door or worse yet, across the street, I would not buy the house because I would hate facing that color every day.

  12. blondee says:

    Oh please, leave your purple houses in New Jersey! I’m already seeing some homes with questionable colors… orange? bright green?? Everyone should have known about the architectural regulations when they moved here, and if they didn’t, well then that’s your problem – you didn’t do your homework.

  13. Sandra Reynolds says:

    I have never heard of a homeowner being told to repaint their home because it did not follow the color code. I have seen some really atrocious colors (bright yellow, neon green) in town. I would mention the streets but I do not want to cause them any ill-will. I am just glad they are not on my street.

  14. Jennifer S says:

    this is precisely what is so very difficult for me to reconcile as i do not like to feel as though i am passing judgement. but i cannot seem to fathom how these megalomaniacs with their myopic self serving view of the world can even buy their own rhetoric all the time. to me the logic of thinking like this is so disjointed, paring things down so numero uno always comes out on top.

    for example: it seems owning an arsenal of weaponry is a right, while choosing the paint scheme of one’s home is a privilege & therefore okay for heavy regulation? and i recognize my point here is a bit dramatic, but i am using it for that very reason. this is overly dramatic and is playing out across America like a poorly written over the top daytime soap opera. and as such i am choosing to posit a scenario of equally inappropriate proportions.

    **blondee…”everyone should have known about the architectural regulations when they moved here…” so everyone is all for regulations of such ridiculous proportion when it comes to serve their own interest…even something as petty as a difference of opinion on aesthetic? i happen to love the color of the purple house & would absolutely welcome all colors of the rainbow up & down my street.

    however, should some others want more regulations on guns the notion somehow invokes the evasion of the fabric of what being an American is all about? and to be clear, blondee, i am not making any assumptions on your thoughts on guns or regulations thereof.

    i am simply trying to point out that as fellow patriots we should have more respect for each other. this idea if you don’t like it you can move goes both ways. if you don’t like my rainbow covered neighborhood then you move, why does it have to be me? that is not a solution where anyone wins. in fact that is not a solution at all. this is what tears us a part and distracts us from where our real work and energy should be aimed. sure it may be easier & maybe even a bit of a stress reliever to get on the comment section of flagler live to bitch, insult, and attempt to discredit a complete stranger after reading a few snippets of what she or he writes but it does not resolve anything, in fact it only stokes the flames to further infuriate and distract one another.

    i feel like everyone wants to insist the problems with this country, our time in the now, here, & present are everything and anyone who does not have the same value system as the individual espousing such ideas. and instead of being open to having an adult conversation, share ideas, and perhaps even gain new perspective it seems individuals all too quickly dissolve into name calling and insulting people they don’t even know. it is very juvenile and i think… well, at least i hope, this is not truly the case as it rather only serves as a medium with which we pollute the waters of clarity and vision.

    i don’t want us all to be the same or think the same. i want people to challenge my thought process. i need people to help me unlock my mind. i want to be set free of my own short comings & ignorance. but can any of these things be possible when anyone who doesn’t agree with me would sooner insult and seek to silence me for it… that to me is very un-American.

    i wish… for starters, talking about politics, religion, and differences of opinions were simply just that… talking & not an opportunity to unleash some deeply manifested and misguided fears.

    i will always have an affinity for the one professor who had the most profound influence in my life. to start he asked the class to participate in an exercise in which he called a few students to go up to the white board and draw a circle. he then explained the circle represented all knowledge throughout all space, time and history the aeons the ages. next he asked the students to draw a circle within that circle to depict what he or she believed represented how much their own knowledge represented within that space. even the most hubris were only willing to dot a speck in proportion to the bigger circle. after that he began our philosophy 101 class satisfied as we all had completely self admitted there was a lot we did not know, thus simultaneously ensuring the participants’ of the class were all starting on the same playing ground in which to begin our lessons.

  15. hiredtekneck says:

    to everyone who doesnt want a neighrbors hosue to be purple—dont like it….dont look at it!

    mind your own business people—once the local ordinance is dropped i will be repainting my house the way i want…….when i want-how i want

    this is no longer a retirement community

  16. Raul Troche says:

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These government intrusions effect two of our unalienable rights. These color codes I believe are unconstitutional. I have painted thousands of houses. I don’t pick their colors I just apply them. Educate don’t legislate has been my opinion. Recently a painting contractor I know, Lenny was painting a house only to find that the color was not approved. I might add this caused additional expenses and time to correct this. Stay out of our personal lives. We are supposed to be living in a republic not a dictatorship. This color “scheme” is probably the next step to requiring us to pay for a permit before repainting. This city has some real issues and corruption in our.building department is one of them.

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