In a developer’s attempt to turn an old boat-manufacturing facility into dry storage for 240 boats along with a restaurant on 4.3 acres next to Hammock Hardware, certain things are clear, like the developer’s intent to win approval for a plan mired in controversy for two years. Many things are less so, including definitions of two terms–“marina” and “warehouse”–that have become the equivalent of fighting words for those proposing and opposing the re-development.
The County Commission had approved the development, called Hammock Harbour, in 2019. The Hammock Community Association challenged the decision in Circuit Court and won: a judge found the method by which the county’s planning board reached its recommendation improper, thus invalidating–or quashing–the subsequent county commission decision. An appeals court upheld the circuit court decision.
The county administration in its interpretation of the decisions has sought to specify that the decisions addressed the planning board, not the county commission–a distinction that is either moot or invalid: the commission had ratified the planning board’s decision fully aware of the challenge by opponents of the decision at the planning board level. The challenge was repeated before the commission, which then, by approving the redevelopment on evidence no less dubious than had the planning board, made itself complicit in what the judge described as a decision “not supported by competent substantial evidence.” The judge, at any rate, specified that the quashing applied to the commission’s decision.
But Judge Chris France limited his decision to whether due process had been followed and whether “the administrative findings and judgment” were supported by evidence. He did not rule on whether such a storage facility was allowable or not. That’s still in dispute.
Bob Million, a Flagler County resident and the developer of the site, still wants to develop what he now calls a marina. The HCA still opposes it, saying the facility has nothing to do with a marina. It calls it a warehouse. The land is zoned for commercial use, but warehouses are not allowed in that Scenic A1A “overlay” area.
So the battle lines have been drawn again, with HCA members now conducting weekly protests along State Road A1A, next to the proposed redevelopment site, and Million losing his patience, and seemingly focusing entirely on discrediting the HCA rather than on securing an application that would win regulators’ approval. On the other hand, the HCA hasn’t gone gently on Million, either. The HCA’s public campaigns have been effective before: it forced the county to back down from a plan to let Captain’s BBQ expand at Bings Landing, the county park. But the association also lost big battles, as with a 50-home subdivision that will recast Jungle Hut Road into a jumble of roofs or a much larger development at the north end of the county.
Million hasn’t submitted a new site plan for his project. But he is seeking a determination by the Planning Board at the board’s next meeting on May 11.
Million’s impatience spilled over at an April 21 county Technical Review Committee meeting and in an April 20 letter he sent planning board members, even though planning board and commission members are not supposed to be swayed by such lobbying–nor are applicants supposed to be lobbying board members–in land-use decisions. “I’ve been working on this for 29 months and we aren’t any further along,” he said at the technical review meeting, according to people in attendance. He was not interested in further changes and wanted to move directly back to the planning board for approval. (The committee gathers administrative level county staffers who review applications for technical rather than policy compliance with county regulations. Applications don’t necessarily have to “win” approval by the committee to move on to the planning board, but the committee step is usually helpful in preparing an application for approval.)
In his letter, he accused the association of “exploiting an ambiguity in the Flagler County LDC,” the land development code, “and creating confusion by intentionally misrepresenting facts.”
But Million may be overstating the issue. Million didn’t like the sort of comparisons the HCA made (such as comparing the proposed redevelopment to a building “four times the area of the existing structure,” a hangar, “or 20 percent larger than a football field.”) He called such comparisons “irrelevant,” which may be true, but he also called them misrepresentations of the facts, which they were not. The facts of the application are not in dispute. Definitions are. In that sense, Million is no less “exploiting” an ambiguity than is the association. That’s what advisory and elected board are for: to arbitrate such ambiguities. Both boards thought they had done just that. But they had done so, in the HCA’s interpretation and the courts’ ruling, more arbitrarily than according to law. So much of Million’s letter is irrelevant, because it restates debatable matters of definition that are still in dispute. (The name of the proposed redevelopment is, ironically, itself somewhat of a misnomer: a “harbour,” the more affected spelling of “harbor,” is neither marina nor warehouse, and is more accurately applied to ships and boats docking in port.)
The county administration has drafted a potential amendment to the land development code that would specifically allow for boat-storage facilities to be located in the Hammock. That amendment would have to go before the planning board and the commission for approval. If it is approved, it would appear to clear the way for Million’s redevelopment. But the association is objecting to that approach, which it considers an end-run around Scenic A1A regulations. That amendment has not been scheduled for a hearing before the planning board. “The LDC amendment is on hold for now,” Assistant County Attorney Sean Moylan said.
“Our position is if you’re going to add that, you need to define other elements of the code,” says Dennis Bayer, the attorney who represents the association.
But the planning board will reconsider Million’s renewed request for a determination on land use as what he calls a “marina.” He is doing so under a provision of the land development code that states: “Other commercial uses of a nature similar to those listed may be permitted upon determination by the planning board that such uses are appropriate in the C-1 district. The standard industrial classification manual will be used as a reference for these determinations.”
To the association, boat storage isn’t a marina. “It’s a different type of use altogether,” Bayer said.
“We know that this is a commercial warehouse, not a marina, and therefore specifically prohibited in the Scenic Corridor Overlay,” says the association’s Dennis Clark. “There are several marinas in Flagler County, but none of them is on a 300′ wide section of the ICW.” He says the proposed re-development “will be dangerous and will require a no-wake zone to be practical.”
So next week the planning board will not be considering Million’s site development plan–which wasn’t even submitted to the technical review committee in April–but only determine whether the land can be used as a boat storage facility. “The Planning Board will again consider the question, not as an appeal of the Planning Director, but based on the LDC provision cited” in the code, Moylan said.
We need more development like this! Let them build it!
Michael Cocchiola says
I’m going with the HCA on this one. It’s their community. They should get to decide what’s good for them.
Percy's mother says
Regarding the county commission voting in 2019 to approve “Hammock Harbour” . . .
FlaglerLive, are you able to give us more specifics on the vote? . . . Which commissioners voted “yes” and which commissioners voted “no”.
The vote was unanimous, keeping in mind that the commission at the time included Charlie Ericksen, who has since been replaced by Andy Dance.
FL Boater says
This is Florida! People enjoy boating. I find it odd that all these high rise condos can be allowed, and ocean front homes with no water access for boats, plus code enforcement out for blood for anyone Gasp! keeping a boat on a trailer on their property in Palm coast, Where are people expected to keep their boat? The Marinas may have slips available, but the average pleasure boat is not designed to be kept in the salt water when not in use. So unless you live in C section or along the ICW and have a very expensive boat lift, this would be a great option. Phone the marina and they put your boat in the water, and when done? It is stored high and dry and safe, Perfect solution and very much needed. Otherwise if you live say in Cinnamon Beach, you would have to buy a trailer for $3,000+, buy a large vehicle to tow it, and store it at Cube smart on Pine lakes Pkywy or other storage yards scattered throughout Flagler. Total hassle to drive to opposite side of town, hook up trailer drive to boat ramp, launch, park truck & Trailer (Hoping theres a spot left!) and repeat this after every use? They built this exact same thing in Ponce Inlet and no problems there at Inlet Harbour. I think the BBQ joint is smoking brisket today, maybe the HCA clowns should hike down A1A and complain about that
All the costs of owning boats for trailer, sufficient vehicle towing & storage. It’s not cheap to own a boat whether there are dockage fees, repairs & maintenance for a marina float. If those that own yachts don’t want to pay for waterfront canal dock, why are they complaining about a self inflicted cost in their lives to occasionally use their boat. I side with the community homeowners that don’t want their residential surrounded by an industrial storage facility. Should there be one at either end of Flagler county, something like where Boston Whaler is closer to FL 100 and another somewhere nearer to Matanzas Inlet ? Although the parks seem to have the prime real estate there ? I don’t think those homeowners there even want a storage facility there as eyesores for their homes. That proposed storage facility will be no less expensive than one off Us 1 in Bunnell or even one off FL 100. So now it’s a matter of convenience ? Not having to run the fuel to go from FL 100 to anchor in the party area of Matanzas Inlet ? Flagler isn’t quite like Ponce Inlet or other FL areas. Again the closest you really have is the road Boston Whaler is on for the intracoastal. And neither Boston Whaler Edgewater or Palm Coast is anywhere near an Inlet for them to test their R&D builds. I worked at the Edgewater facility back in 1988-1989. Boats were tested no where near an Inlet for NSB/Ponce Inlet.
I did live in Miami for about 20 years, majority of it closer to Haulover in North Miami/Sunny Isles. They had the storage there at the County park. Maybe they should consider doing that here. But I also think that is counter to the environment agenda, add that Federal vs State vs County parks are two different political animals.
This really is no different than the ordinances for commercial vehicles in residential communities in Palm Coast. End of he day there, I don’t want my neighborhood to look like a the pages of a Mint magazine just because someone owns a barber shop and doesn’t want to garage his vehicle because there’s too much clutter in the garage. Same holds for a cover over their vehicles. Palm Coast has commercial districts, we have the internet, it’s not like we can’t find these businesses as a top N search with Google. If they want to advertise their business then they need to compensate the rest of us to have to look at it every day. I prefer a clean home without the noise of a message stressing out the wilderness of this rural community. Palm Coast was never intended to become Miami, yet that’s what every proposal eventually becomes about.
Edith Campins says
You obviously don’t live in the Hammock so you don’t care about their quality of life. If you had done your due diligence before moving here you would know what the boating conditions were, no different than other small towns on the water. The real total hassle would be a two lane A1A ad the traffic such a facility would create,not to mention the noise, smells, etc.
By the way, have you ever seen what happens to one of those storage facilities it gets hit by a huricane?
Resident and boater says
Boat storage or boat marina…so what? It supports recreation and brings in county taxes. If the HCA has a better idea for the old property let’s hear it. And bring a check book.
Rev. Thorton Jones says
I think that the person in the best position to call the shots on this project is the Honorable Joe Mullins. Given Commissioner Mullins’s background and his acute knowledge of real estate matters of this nature, he is in the catbird seat and the rest of the county commissioners need to support him. Believe it or not, Joe is an expert in this area. He is the best thing to ever happen to the Flagler County government!
Bravo to the HCA! I am hoping the Planning and Development Board and the BOCC will listen to the voters. A solution can be found if people put their egos aside, listen and come up with a solution.
Indoor boat storage is a good concept, but that huge building does not belong along the A1A Scenic Highway in the Hammock. It is still a beautiful area, but if these types of buildings are allowed, A1A will look like Daytona Beach.
I am thankful for the “clowns” who are trying to keep A1A scenic.
Grateful Dad says
Bob Million is a class act and I support his directive to proceed with HAMMOCK HARBOUR. These folks that are protesting are still hung up on Bings Landing and the county’s complete screw up on that issue. HCA and their stupid ass attorney does more harm for our community than good. Any idiot that can write their name on a petition or hold up a protest sign gets a front row seat to their corrupt agenda. They don’t know what’s good for the Hammock any more than someone living in the Mondex (no offense).
Support an opportunity to have good dry boat storage and services that will improve our quality of life and enhance our local tax base. Otherwise you will need to drive your marine equipment to St. Aug or Daytona for basic services like oil changes amd repairs.
It wasn’t that long ago prior to Ginn when we had a dry storage and fuel service available here in the Hammock, along with a boat rental hat didn’t operate in our local county park (bings). Yea I’m calling you all out because you are stupid and selfish!
I say screw the baseless, false information from the hardware store and Dennis Clark and support this gentlemen in his endeavor!
20 years ago I purchased a boat from Bob and his company at the time and he towed it in for service and dropped it off when complete. Sine then I have never experienced that type of service in the marine industry.
I live in the Hammock have for 18 years, I’m all for this. I have a boat and it would be nice to have a storage within a mile of my home instead of having to travel across the bridge to pick up my boat and bring it back to launch it at Bings. . IF the HCA wants to do something worthwhile, fix the traffic issues, the speeders, maybe go for a few traffic lights and while your at it, get the county to force people with un kept homes and lots to clean them up. Its a EYE SORE and more of an eyesore than a boat storage and restaurant . the HCA failed at preventing two of the biggest impacts to traffic, the North end and the Jungle hunt developments. . PS: Scenic A1A went away the day all of the homes were built on both sides of A1A. Not sure scenic can be defined from the Palm Coast Pwy bridge to north A1A while looking at mobile homes along A1A or dilapidated looking lots with junk an dead trees. Time to get real
The developments on the north end of the county and the Beachwalk development at Jungle Hut were opposed by citizens (mostly HCA members) in the Hammock to no avail. Too bad more citizens are not involved in trying to protect A1A from increasing traffic and overdevelopment.
The building that is on the property now is an eyesore. It was built in 2000. In 2004, the Scenic Corridor Overlay was added to the Land Development Code to prevent that type of structure from being built. Metal buildings are prohibited, and building height maximum is 40’.
While I do agree that indoor boat storage is a great idea, its placement along A1A in the Hammock will only increase traffic. The size and scope of the development are not compatible with the character of the area.
By the way, traffic issues fall under the purview of the DOT, not HCA.
“The developments on the north end of the county and the Beachwalk development at Jungle Hut were opposed by citizens (mostly HCA members) in the Hammock to no avail”, looks like money talks. PS: the DOT is not going to do anything about the traffic on A1A . It is what it is. The traffic is a caused by the over development of the land along A1A for commercial / residential and the only people that can stop that is the County Planning Zoning Board which approved the building back in 2000. But its progress and the little sleepy little place we used to enjoy has been advertised by our greedy real estate companies, and been on TV so its growing and nothing is going to stop that now. I’m for this huge remodel this developer is proposing for this building. Heck if it looks anything like the pictures with attractive landscape , paint, it would look a whole lot better than 85% of our current restaurants and buildings along A1A which are mostly shacks and out of date wooden structures . PS, traffic regarding this building as boat storage would be the same it is today as these boat owners will still be driving on A1a to launch their boats and for for a lot, it will only be cars as their boats are stored there for launch at the ramp behind the building.
We need this in the Hammock. I am holding off on purchasing a boat until a facility like this is available. The Hammock needs more restaurants and more recreation. Time to continue developing the very few commercial lands that remain along A1A in the Hammock so that we can continue to attract tax and tourist dollars.
So, people would rather look at a dilapidated old yacht building facility, growing weeds and brush around it than a brand new facility with a restaurant that could better serve residents and visitors to our county? There hasn’t been a yacht in there in years. I’m sick of looking at it every time I go by in my boat. Just a waste of good commercial property.