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A Gas Station at the Corner of Pine Lakes and Wynnfield? Property Rights, Not Palm Coast, Would Prevail

| February 11, 2014

The intersection of Pine Lakes Parkway at Wynnfield Drive falls along a popular biking, walking and exercise path, and a wall of woods, some of which would be cut down to make room for a gas station and convenience store. (c FlaglerLive)

The intersection of Pine Lakes Parkway at Wynnfield Drive falls along a popular biking, walking and exercise path, and a wall of woods, some of which would be cut down to make room for a gas station and convenience store. (c FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast hasn’t approved a site plan for it yet, but the 4,200-square-foot gas station and convenience store in the works for the southeast corner of Pine Lakes Parkway and Wynnfield Drive is causing a small upheaval among residents of the–until now–hyper-residential area. They’re calling and emailing the mayor and other members of the city council. They’re pleading for help in halting the project, and assuming the city can do something about it.

It can’t.

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As long as the plans mesh with city codes and regulations, Cocoa-based M&R United (which specializes in gas stations) can build the business without even having to appear before either the city’s planning board or the city council, because the size of the project is below the threshold that trips such reviews. The 12-acre expanse of woods and brush has been zoned commercial since the old ITT days, and the city is not about to “down”-zone it to something greener. M&R acquired the property just six months ago for $441,000, just half the price the property sold for in 2011, according to county property appraiser records.

“We’re not doing a very good job of communicating private property rights,” Palm Coast City Council member Jason DeLorenzo said Tuesday, bringing up the matter at the council’s meeting. Neither he nor other council members have any intention of opposing the project. They would be virtually powerless to do so. But the project, like the council’s discussion Tuesday, illustrated the vast gap between residents’ assumptions about the powers of their government and their dearth of knowledge about Florida law, which generally places property rights far ahead of community or government interests.

“We can’t tell them no, you can’t build on it. I have that conversation constantly,” City Manager Jim Landon said. He had similar conversations when the ABC store went up at the corner of Palm Coast Parkway and Old Kings Road (though thousands of Palm Coast residents now depend on the store for spiritual sustenance). He recently got an email from a resident irate that yet another McDonald’s was about to clog yet another city artery. But Landon explained that the market decides that, not government. He  continues to try to explain to residents that the city has no more power to stop a convenience store at a commercially zoned parcel than a resident can stop another residential home from going up on a nearby empty lot.

In this case, Palm Coast is contending with ITT’s mapping of what was then just the sprawling development known as Palm Coast, under county zoning regulations. Several such parcels pop up around town, like dormant minefields that developers are poised to explode into commercial zones once the economy makes it profitable. The placement of a gas station and convenience store along Pine Lakes is by no means irrational: it would serve W-Section residents who, for now, have a trek of several  miles to make it to the nearest shelf of bread or fresh milk.

“I can’t help but wonder in an ironic sort of way, how many of the people that are complaining about this potential convenience store are the same ones that complain that the city is not friendly to business,” Council member Bill McGuire said.

Palm Coast has options to keep the gas station from going up. But they’re not feasible options, Mayor Jon Netts said.

The city could offer to buy the property. “I can assure you that you can do all the appraisals you want, determining what fair market value is,” Netts said, “but this developer has a profit motive in building. So he’s going to want not only the value of the land, he’s going to want return on investment. So you’ll wind up paying substantially more for that property than if there weren’t somebody planning to develop it.”

Second option: The city could take the property through eminent domain. But that’s very expensive. It goes to court, and a judge and jury determine the value. “You have no control over what the final price is,” Netts said. Th city must also prove that it has a publicly beneficial need for the property. (Palm Coast’s last attempt to go the eminent domain route didn’t go so well.)

Third option: The city could “down”-zone from commercial to conservation. But under Florida law, the city would have to compensate the property owner for the presumed lost value of the property. “So, three options that I am aware of, all of which are going to cost the city a tremendous amount of money,” Netts said. If there were just one such parcel in the city it might be doable, the mayor said. “But ITT in their mindset, said we’re going to have residential communities, and we’re going to have some neighborhood shopping opportunities within that community so you don’t have to drive to the other side of town. You have these little isolated commercially zoned properties throughout the city. What you do for one, you do for all, what you do to one you do to all. The cost would be exorbitant if you were to try to start acquiring these properties.”

Council members suggested explaining all these points in the city’s newsletter and in its periodic Citizen’s Academy. The city attorney suggested that the city’s real estate professionals could take it upon themselves to be more upfront about neighboring properties’ potentials as commercial developments.

“People who are in the real estate business are looking to make a sale,” McGuire says. “If I’m a realtor and I’ve got you interested in a property I want to sell, I want to know what you’re interested in hearing because that’s what I’m going to tell you.”

“As a buyer, you’re better off knowing more than your realtor,” Landon said.

“Everybody will tell you that we want smaller, less intrusive government, until it comes to my personal problem, then I want you to solve it for me,” Netts says.

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46 Responses for “A Gas Station at the Corner of Pine Lakes and Wynnfield? Property Rights, Not Palm Coast, Would Prevail”

  1. The Truth says:

    I would love to see a gas station near SR-100 and Belle Terre Parkway, even near Publix in Town Center. I realize there are stations in Bunnell or Flagler Beach by I-95, but this intersection is very busy and I’m very surprised no one has wanted to open a station at this intersection.

  2. blondee says:

    I’ve been looking at that For Sale sign for over ten years, maybe longer. I also live the neighborhood and don’t have an issue with it. So bring it on!

  3. Robert says:

    These guys flop around more than a beached fish.
    When they used city funds to overpay for parcels on Bull Dog Drive it was just ok.
    They developed a golf course that hasn’t returned a dime and probably never will.
    The same for a tennis center they were all hot to build.
    Don’t forget that road widening project built on a promise from Walmart and speculation in the real estate market.
    They wouldn’t be spouting that rhetoric if a gas station was being built over there in Grand Haven or on one of the small streets in the Florida Park Drive area.
    This is residential neighborhood. Just because one has been looking at a for sale sign is not justification for constructing a high vehicular traffic business.
    Access and egress of the traffic from this store is going to be dumped right on to Wynnfield Drive, a two lane residential street. A street where pedestrians and bicycles have to move into the swales to avoid approaching vehicles.

  4. Miami-Dade County ( home rule charter) has an ordinance that I attempted to enforce when I was a member of Community Council #5 Zoning Board in the northwest section of the county.
    That ordinance, still in effect, allows the county to rescind ANY zoning classification that was not utlized within 3 years of being granted.. The time to rescind a use, as Ormond Beach could have done if they had annexed the unincorporated area where ‘Cheaters’ now exists,is BEFORE any intent to use the zoning is made known, not after…. Palm Coast, like any other entity can review and revise their Master Plan for the benefit of the citizens but not once a legal use has begun . For a government agency to say they are powerless as a general statement is absurd in my opinion… Yes, if they let a property sit for 20 years and don’t bother to review periodically if the given use is still in the best interest of the community they are powerless or would probably lose a ton of taxpayer’s money and time going to court but don’t ever tell the public that their government is powerless on any issue… This is a country based on government of the people, by the people, for the people, not big business for big business and by big business. Just my opinion as a former Zoning Board Member back in South Fla. Thanks for letting me sound off…

  5. ASPCJr says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with “The Truth”. Belle Terre in the Town Center Publix Plaza would be a win-win for everyone. Not only does it bring business into the shopping plaza, it is in a safer location for the residents of Palm Coast.

    It would definitely be a win-win for the City to place a Gas Station on that outparcel right off Belle Terre near the Bamboo Creek restaurant.

    Putting a gas station on such a beautiful parcel of land in the “W” section would run property values down, and detract from the “W” neighborhood.

    Typical Miopic views by the City Planners and Bureaucracy to allow commercially zoned parcels into residential areas. By putting a gas station in the Town Center Plaza area, instead of the “W” section allows the tax revenue the city could potentially receive from the gas stations business alone could almost compensate for an entire neighborhoods worth of Ad Valorem taxes within the first year of operation.

    There is no close gas station businesses for the “P”, “R”, and “E” section residents. The “W” section folks have 4 gas stations within a mile of the proposed location. That’s right folks, a single mile. Where is the justice in that? See the forest for the Trees Palm Coast planners!!

    • joey says:

      aye man W block represent man hell yea we need a gas station in the dub. Man i could walk right down the road an get me some backwoods man! maybe even a 40! we need that.

  6. PCer says:

    What kind of gas station/convenience store? Will it be a 7-eleven? I love a slurpee!!!!

  7. orphan says:

    While I certainly sympathize with the homeowners of the nearby properties, I also very much agree with the gist of this article: that property has for time eternal been designated ‘commercial’.
    As I sit here musing-I wonder just how many of those people who are opposed to this situation would, in a few years or so, find themselves benefiting from that very same enterprise. Just a thought.
    Personally, I love the woods. :)

  8. confidential says:

    Welcomed to Florida…and its ancient laws. Want change vote in midterm elections for candidates that will materialize your wished

  9. Seminole Pride says:

    We need community convenient stores and gas stations. It is rather out of the way for those that don’t live near the main arteries where there are stores and gas stations to fill up. I have to drive up to 7 miles to go Gas Up.

  10. Joan says:

    There is another way for property owners and residents. Don’t do business there even if you have to run up there at 10 PM on a Saturday night for that Lottery ticket you forgot to buy elsewhere?

  11. says:

    great another place to be robbed, time to move out the area

  12. Dennis McDonald says:

    Landon’s statement….“We can’t tell them no, you can’t build on it. I have that conversation constantly,” City Manager Jim Landon said. He had similar conversations when the ABC store went up at the corner of Palm Coast Parkway and Old Kings Road… is his constant miss representing of what actually happened.
    By City Charter Landon is the Land Use Administrator and what he failed to reveal is that the ABC parcel had NO Drainage capability. It is an out parcel from the shopping center developed with intense coverage and had NO way to drain it’s water until the City arranged the tunneling under Palm Coast Parkway.
    FACT. Without that drainage the ability to develop would have been severely limited and ABC would not be looming over the motorists of Palm Coast.
    FACT. Mort’s Liquors would not have been run out of business in the Palm Harbor Shopping Center and the good citizens of Palm Coast would receive spiritual sustenance from a real local merchant that the City claims to “Help ” ?
    FACT. The large store he rented would not be vacant contributing to more blight and negative return.
    Fact. The City/Land Use Admin. was under no obligation to provide the owner of the now ABC land [a holding company for the original developer] any drainage consideration in Our public property.
    FACT. The City of Palm Coast creates it’s own blight due to the incompetence of the Land Use Administrator. This is one of many examples.
    Fact. We as Citizens pay just short of One Million Dollars per year for the City Manager’s and City Attorney’s offices to operate and abuse Our City infrastructure.
    FACT…We need a whole new Council and Mayor. ” Communicate ” Vote November 4 2014 !

    Opinions from the New Palm Coast.

    Dennis McDonald

    • Pioneer Man says:

      Dennis is absolutely correct. We have a city government that just cannot say no to any developer who has a promise to provide jobs and more taxes. How long will we continue to be called “TREE CITY”. We have a member on the Council whose day job is promoting development and whose wife runs The Chamber of Commerce. They are Palm Coast’s “Power Couple”. The insiders run Palm Coast. Dennis please run for office. There is a lot of resentment out here.

  13. Brian says:

    What do Nett`s and the city councel think, we have cracks running down the middle of our faces , of course they control what goes where on what land in this town, and you can bet your sweet azz its another little champ, one more monopoly to add to their pathetic bribe taking board of a city they are building, they should of put one down by Town Center we,ve needed one there for 20 yrs since they built Cypress Knoll Golf Course, what kind of idiots do they take us for , well we already know that, by the 47 red light cams being an safety issue as they hawk booze in the park , The city planner yeas or nays what ever comes in this town , they definitely got to be voted out of office this lying is just getting too ridiculous , they sure had the power to keep the businesses that wanted to come in, that they didnt want in ,out .so who the hell do they think they are fooling

  14. Tinman says:

    I hope it is a WAWA

  15. Genie says:

    Why isn’t the City “about to down zone” it? Who do these clowns work for? Whose tax dollars are paying for this? Why bother to have a Planning Board, just a cover for another government agency that won’t listen to the taxpayers?

    They are about to tear up one of the most beautiful centers in Palm Coast and large it by a third more, taking more of the green out and filling it with concrete. The one there now is nearly empty. Why should we allow somebody to build a BIGGER EMPTY? Why should we put up with a Council clearly too close to the building industry here?

    It looks to me like it’s time to change Florida law.

  16. Jennifer Lopez says:

    The People of Palm Coast need to quit with the whinning, it would be great there, why such a big deal.

    The City goverment is trying to get you all in the 20th centruy .
    Rateable, it will keep the taxes down.

  17. Rich says:

    Please don’t confuse Palm Coast with Miami -Dade or Ormond Beach. We don’t care what or how they do it down there. Some people are so anti development. Maybe they should buy the property or hold a car wash or bake sale to raise the money to buy the property. Then again how about a manufactured home community within Palm Coast city limits. Seems like a lot of open land. But then again maybe one of the previous posters would have a hissy fit over that too!

    • Genie says:

      Flagler County has just about everything, including many nearly empty office buildings and small shopping centers.

      I suppose what bothers most of us is that this city has yet to host a really successful project. We are riddled with failures and few successes.

      And I don’t agree that property owners get to build what they want without local approval. Homeowners can’t do it, either.

    • Brian says:

      Rich you really think we need 7 Publixs, 4 McDonalds, 3 Wendy`s, 3 CVS`s, 3 Walgreens, 15 Little Champs, 5 of each bank which make like 20 banks, Thank God another tire store pulled out we have 3 of them on Palm Coast Pky and 47 red light camera`s in a town this size, they are clearly getting paid handsomely to keep putting the same businesses a block apart from each other, its a monopoly they are building, I cant stand McDonalds they are filthy roach infested holes cause they let high school kids who can t keep their rooms clean run them , not to mention their adolecent urge to lick cheese or put your bun down their pants , how about some variety , three chicken places, 20 pizza places , 20 chinese places and 15 mexican places, in real towns where they actually have a brain and build a down town you have a mile long strip of shops on both sides of the street with mom and pop stores in them, here its hodpodge strip malls that are 3/4 empty cause people dont wanna fight all the red lights driving around this ticket trap and they charge way too much rent for them , plus nobody knows where half of them are, the whole design is a clusterF#$K, when we were just a community before these idiots made it a city and let three times too many people in here it was a nice quiet place to live but greed took over , they started robbing utility funds to build strip malls all over the place thinking they`d fill up and get a big return , then they turned PC into one of the most hated cities with 47 red light cams LA has 17, why in the world do we need 47, theyu have to go its greed greed greed

  18. EYEONFLAGLER says:

    Cant wait ! Start construction A.S.A.P.!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Well... says:

    Wish it was going to be a Wawa…filled with Turkey Hill ice cream and hoagies. Ah, to dream.

  20. Since 1987 says:

    A gas station at that location is fine. Just look look a the stations along Palm Harbor Parkway and the Frontier area. Looks all residential but there springs a gas station!

    • Genie says:

      @ Since 1987 says: Yeah, and next time you don’t have anything to do on a Saturday night, come on down and watch the drug deals going on at that BP station.

      Yeah, GREAT addition to the neighborhood.

  21. Ralph Belcher says:

    This memo from your Florida Food For Thought Department: Palm Coast Division.

    Wow, we get another business-zoned property improved upon to therefore make it more valuable and increase commercial ad valorem taxes? I like that. More (built-out) business properties to add to the city and county tax rolls. Stick by stick we get to build lesser dependence on residential properties for local ad valorem taxes. Think about that. And we won’t have to drive as far to get that emergency gallon of milk, beer, cigarettes, or lottery scratch-off tickets. A shade greener community.

    • Genie says:

      @ Ralph – With commercial development like we’re seeing in Palm Coast, we’re going to need lots of it to offset the loss of neighborhood property values.

      Buying a house next to a gas station is not something most buyers look for. In addition you have the bright lights shining into the surrounding neighborhood windows at night.

      Not real attractive, unless maybe you come from New Jersey.

  22. Say What? says:

    Roller dogs and taquitos for everyone!!!

  23. Teddy says:

    This is a very odd location for any retail/services business. Guess that is the reason for the very low price they paid for the property. A failed and empty gas station would be a blight on the Pine Lakes community. Also, being on the corner of PL P’way and Winnfield, I hope the review authority deals with the fact that this corner is very busy as it is. Will a traffic light be necessary? Who pays for that? And what about the well used pedestrian/ bike path along the frontage on PL P’way? How will that be addressed?

  24. fruitcake says:

    When is the town council growing a set and start putting their foot down on deals like this!
    Do you want a gas station around the corner from your house? There are enough real commercial
    area’s for things like gas stations…get real!

    • Genie says:

      @ Fruitcake: HELLO, Palm Coast! You put the head of the Flagler County Building Industry on the Council and his wife runs the Chamber.

      What else do you expect?

  25. Frank Diliberto says:

    Great idea !!! Build it and it will fit in just fine like ABC did.

    • Pioneer Man says:

      Frank, are you serious? Since the 1970s, the center of Palm Coast has been the intersection of Palm Coast Parkway and Old Kings Road. What is there? Two fast food restaurants, a drug store and a liquor store (which was allowed to build right up to the sidewalk without the traditional buffer required of every other enterprise along the parkway). What a greeting this presents to visitors. Hopefully the City Hall will move the center to Town (?) Center. It cannot be called City Center because Universal owns that name. With reference to the gas station, those who object to it can simply buy their gas elsewhere. There certainly are enough stations.

  26. Cramp says:

    Hey , Let’s build a Palm Coast World Amusement Park near Grand Haven. Yea, that’s it, an Amusement Park…..Then maybe we can build a 200 story High-rise for all the Senior Citizens to live in…Yea, that’s it….Or perhaps a 9000sq ft McDonalds/Playland near Walmart..Yea, that’s it !!!!

  27. confidential says:

    Totally agree with Dennis McDonald above.
    They use our infrastructure reserves to benefit the mammoth corporations like they used it for the phantom Wallmart as an excuse to benefit the groupie at Town Center over 6 millions of our water utility reserves for the widening and landscaping of Old Kings South that now we have to spend in maintaining too. If true that they spend our reserves to provide drainage to the ABC under the parkway…how much? They waste our taxes benefitting the elite while our drainage system is decaying allover and without being repaired. Huge culvers connecting golf courses and residential areas to canals for drainage running under our properties are falling apart creating threat of caving or sinkholes to our homes and when we call they come with a bad aid. Meanwhile our lawns keep sinking. In spite of the recent utility and drainage increases in our bills.
    We voted down by referendum the darn not needed city hall and the 5 scrooges approved it anyway. Now I am concerned about what will be the mess we will endure regarding the Palm Harbor Shopping Center hidden agenda that one we never see before they sign the papers, a la Centex and failed Palm Coast Resort. Maybe our ignored referendum and the illegal use of our utility reserves while increasing our fees should be reason enough to call the feds to investigate?

  28. MaryJo says:

    :roflmao: What, in god’s name, does this have to do with Realtors? They didn’t make the zoning here. We didn’t build the walking paths and sidewalks here. What the heck? Lol

  29. says:

    cant’ wait so i can hang out there and play my music from my car loud and litter up the property like they do at the BP station on Fellowship Dr. people of pine lakes area welcome to palm coast.

  30. Since 1987 says:

    A gas station between 100 and Parkview would be optimal.

  31. Lin says:

    Property offered by owner is not in Town Center or Grand Haven or anywhere else but where it is.
    That owner wants to sell that commercial-zoned property for commercial use. The people who say put it there or there don’t get it.
    If a business property owner wants to sell and the buyer wants to buy and it is in compliance with all the codes, what the h? Don’t own any business property but it isn’t the government’s business to say there are too many gas stations or they’d like a different business or none at all. That is interfering with the rights of ownership and I would fight it if someone wanted to interfere with my rights to do what I wanted with my property (within the legal codes).
    Don’t see what Grand Haven has to do with any of it. There aren’t any commercial pieces there.

  32. Tinman says:

    Once again the want-a-bees are too late, The city can’t stop it. Only YOU can, so get off your wallet and buy up all the commercial property.

  33. Steven Nobile says:

    I adamantly agree that the market decides which businesses will succeed and which will fail and that is how it should be. But this a massive foobar. Placing a gas station in the middle of a residential area is something to be fought. It seems our city officials are ready to tax, fine and regulate the residents as quick as they can, but I do not accept the response that there is nothing that can be done here. Offer them a better commercial area, give them tax incentives to move and once they accept and move, re-zone that land.

    I encourage the people to bombard the city with calls and emails. We have an election coming up in November, use the leverage.

    Just to be up front, I am running for City Council District 4 this year.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Palm Coast Community doesn’t need council members who can’t stand up for its communities when requested to do so. If there are laws to prevent the council from stopping unwanted businesses from coming into an area, why do we need them.

  34. Wsectioner says:

    I hate the construction. The corner they’ve chosen is only couple hundred yards from residential homes. I feel bad for the owners in them.

    They’ve made what was once a beautiful corner to a lovely neighborhood into a remotely placed resource and not to mention an eyesore.

    I came home from work late one night and one of the construction people’s cars was parts right in the middle of the damn road. Just stop. Build it somewhere that makes better sense. Whiteview / 100 would be a good spot, or near one of the churches near by here.

  35. Axel says:

    Could one of these gas stations that will be being built soon in Palm Coast sell e85 or e90 fuel for the flex fuel vehicles? It only cost on an average of $2.30 a gallon and burns a lot cleaner and is more green less emissions. I don’t understand how car company’s can sell flex fuel vehicles in areas with gas stations that don’t sell it. You have to drive to Jacksonville or Orlando to purchase it.

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