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Hearing to Decide Fate of Salamander’s 198-Room Hotel in the Hammock Set for Monday

| January 28, 2015

A rendering of Salamander's twin buildings that would replace the existing golf lodge.

A rendering of Salamander’s twin buildings that would replace the existing golf lodge.

A special meeting and public hearing on the request to replace the lodge at the Ocean Hammock Golf Course with a 198-room hotel is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, February 2 in the Government Services Building’s commission chambers in Bunnell.

Salamander Hotels, which manages Ocean Hammock, is proposing to replace the lodge with the larger structure without infringing beyond the current building’s footprint, while pulling back its original proposal 15 feet from the dunes and eliminating what had been a proposed parking lot south of 16th Road. Despite the concessions, opposition persists as Hammock residents fear the new structure’s impact will overwhelm the area and a land use change could open the way for further development in future years.

The Flagler County Planning Board recommended against the proposal in a vote in December while advisory groups such as the A1A Scenic Pride committee and the Hammock Conservation Coalition have also voted to oppose the plan.

Monday evening, in what promises to be a lengthy meeting, the Flagler County Commission will receive an overview of the request as well as staff findings from Flagler County’s Planning Director, Adam Mengel, followed by a presentation on the proposal from the developer, Salamander. Mengel and his department, representing the county administration, are recommending in favor of the proposal, which has also drawn the support of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Affiliates and the Palm Coast Observer. The County Commission will also seek public comment on the issue.

The hearing will be conducted under the rules for a quasi- judicial matter and the commission will vote on the proposal at the close of the public hearing.

The same day in a separate meeting the commission was due to hear another issue that has centered on–and divided–the Hammock: a proposed ordinance to regulate short-term rentals, now that the Legislature reversed a law that, for a few years, forbade local governments from regulating the industry. The proposed ordinance drew polarized support and opposition when the commission first heard it in December. The commission asked for re-writes.

But county staff is recommending a delay of the public hearing on the ordinance, ostensibly to allow a review of a new draft of the ordinance. The administration will recommend to the commission that the hearing be postponed until until 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 19, a recommendation the commission will almost certainly approve.

The new draft ordinance includes changes such as increasing occupancy limits, excludes condominiums, limits the ordinance to single family and two family homes, excludes areas west of U.S. Highway 1 and establishes criteria to address existing vacation rentals. County staff is still reviewing the redraft and over the next few weeks may make some final edits based on additional information.

“We appreciate all the feedback that we have received,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said, “as we try to develop a balanced approach that works better for all parties.”

The draft Short Term Vacation Rental ordinance is available here.

Background and Perspective on the Salamander Proposal:

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