It appeared to be residents’ most pressing concern–their most pressing fear. But there are no plans for a connecting road and bridge between Citation Parkway in Seminole Woods, across I-95 to a planned development along Old Kings Road, just south of State Road 100. ITT had designed Citation with such a bridge in mind, and Palm Coast government has gone as far as “reserving” land on the other side for a “landing zone” to that bridge. But for now and the foreseeable future, no such bridge is planned. Even if the development proceeds.
“There is no plan, there is no intention, there is no capital improvement plan, there is no money, there is no nothing, for a Citation overpass, period,” Michael Chiumento III, the attorney representing the developer, told an audience of 60 people who turned up Wednesday evening for a neighborhood meeting on a long-planned development of 2,250 homes or apartment units and 1.7 million square feet of commercial and office space, much of it concentrated in a planned “commerce park.”
What used to be called the South Old Kings Road Development of Regional Impact, what’s now the Bulow Creek development, has been in the works a dozen years, without a single structure yet built. It’s still in the regulatory phase. Next week, on Feb. 19, the developer goes before the Palm Coast Planning Board to seek recommended approval for the rezoning of the 787 acres in the “Master Planned Development.”
The first of four planned development phases is limited to 600 residential units or their equivalent in the number of vehicle trips 600 units would produce. That means it could be a mixture of homes, apartment units and shops or offices. That phase of the development is likely to be apartment buildings on the most intense or dense side of the development, between Old Kings Road and I-95. The development as a whole would have a variety of zoning, from low density (4 houses per acre) to medium density (4 to 8 units) to high density (8 to 15 units) and commercial. The development also includes swaths of conservation land.
Both the developer and the city see the rezoning as a formality, not a legal hurdle, nor a step where either the Planning Board or the Palm Coast City Council, where the rezoning application heads next–likely in March–could face significant opposition. The reason: the rezoning is merely changing a zoning designation from when the land was in the county’s jurisdiction to making it consistent with Palm Coast’s Comprehensive Plan. And the rezoning is consistent with that plan.
“There is a comprehensive plan that gives certain entitlements to this property,” Chiumento told the audience. “It’s not if this property will be developed, because it has those vested rights, it’s how.” The development is planned in four phases–not by defined geographic phases, but by numbers of houses or units, which can cluster anywhere in the development, no matter the phase. But the build-out may take a generation or more. And with every phase completion, the developer is required to re-analyze such elements as traffic flow, school capacity and so on.
But developments of this size tend to draw concerns and opposition regardless, as the Bulow Creek development did Wednesday evening. Palm Coast government requires developers to hold neighborhood meetings such as that one–it was held at the Hilton Garden Inn–for several reasons: to better inform and include residents about what’s coming, and for the city and its appointed or elected officials to get a sense of where public opinion is on the matter, understanding that Not-In-My-Backyardigans are seldom enthusiastic cheerleaders of big developments, particularly big developments that can change the complexion of a neighborhood while forcibly resting some of their forward-looking projections on more speculative than demonstrable analysis.
As such neighborhood meetings go, the meeting at the Hilton was significantly calmer and more civil than, say, the one held in early December at the Matanzas High School cafeteria, concerning the proposed development around the disused Matanzas golf course in the L Section. That scene was a hectoring drumbeat of decibels and occasional invectives, with Chiumento representing the developer there as well. At the Hilton, the meeting started off on a tense note, with one woman in the front row seemingly ready for warfare as she questioned why her household had not received notice of the meeting the way residents within a certain radius of the development are required to. But it proved to be the exception. What dissatisfaction was voiced was either more reasoned or more tempered with humor (“What can we do to make you go away?” and “Can you tell us whose house to egg?” went one resident).
The concerns, however, were serious, and the answers not always reassuring.
Residents are concerned especially about implications for traffic on a two-lane road that already appears overtaxed at times, especially when the stretch of Old Kings by Old Kings Elementary turns into something more like LaGuardia Airport terminal ramps when school lets in and out. There are no plans to widen Old Kings Road.
“If we live on Old Kings, we really like Old Kings and we don’t want to see that turn into a freeway and ridiculous trucks,” one resident said. “It’s not what we bought into.”
One resident called the traffic issue the development’s Achilles’ heel. She noted that whenever there’s a crash on I-95, Old Kings Road becomes I-95, leaden with traffic and congestion. “You put that much density, then you have an accident, I’m sorry, that makes Old Kings Road a parking lot.” Chiumento said he was himself stuck in just such a jam around Thanksgiving last year. “It does happen all up an down the I-95 corridor when that happens,” he said.
He said rigorous traffic analyses have been completed. The development will depend on a road capable of meeting required traffic capacities–which it does now. He said as development advances, the level of development cannot go forward absent that ready capacity.
“The bottom line is, they don’t care, they just want the money. The money is the driver,” a resident said.
“That statement that they don’t care is not accurate,” Chiumento retorted, saying the development was studied and commented upon by the county, the state, traffic engineers and others. “Those traffic issues are issues and they’re real but they are addressed.”
As for Old Kings Elementary, he revealed one solution that is likely to provide relief to many parents of students at the school, if not to neighbors of the school: the developer will be ceding significant acreage to the school district at the north end of Old Kings Elementary, both to enable an expansion at the school if necessary (though the school is already considerably sizeable), and for the developer–who will assume all costs–to build an entirely new car riders’ in-and-out loop that dumps onto State Road 100.
The development would also set aside sites for fire and police protection–acreage for a fire station and a sheriff’s substation.
There were some environmental concerns, given the proximity of the proposed development to the headwaters of Bulow Creek and the sheer size of the development, which will affect gopher tortoise habitat and of course level large portions of woods: sand pine (the property contains 85 acres of sand pines as of last year), mixed pine (57 acres), temperate hardwoods (66 acres), wetland hardwoods (71 acres), cypress (89 acres) and other vegetation. There is also an 11-acre coquina stockpile area, and, most significant of all–and never mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting–a sandhill ridge that appears to have cultural and historical significance.
A 2010 assessment by Natural Resource Consultants, working for the city, analyzed the area for its environmental values. “The result of this work was the discovery and delineation of an upland sandhill ridge adjacent to the Bulow Creek headwaters wetland system east of Old Kings Road,” NRC’s findings read. “This sandhill ridge and adjacent wetlands (123 acres in size) can be considered unique, and thus environmentally sensitive.”
“Adding to the significance of this sandhill range and two prehistoric archaeological sites (as noted on the Division of Historical Resources Florida Master Site File Map, a midden and burial mound,” the NRC analysis went on. “This is further evidence that this area has had significance in the landscape for hundreds of years. The combination of this upland ridge and adjacent wetland provide numerous benefits to wildlife downstream and provides a unique habitat that is not commonly found in this part of Florida. The wetlands are contiguous with Graham Swamp and eventually lead to Bulow Creek providing direct access to a large corridor allowing wildlife to move north and south.”
At the time, the acreage was removed from the Future Land Use Map, suggesting that it would not be part of the development.
But a city official Wednesday said the ridge remains part of what would be developable land, at least as far as the developer is concerned, while the city is raising objections to that, focusing on a particular area, as it did in one recent analysis of the project: “The Applicant has routinely denied that the referenced ‘ridge’ is unique; however, the August 15, 2019 Carter Environmental Assessment notes that ‘The 17.38 acres of sandhill located within the project area is a unique habitat to Flagler County, however, the size of the habitat limits its function in the landscape.”
Those issues are documented in the voluminous regulatory paperwork that has amassed in the history of the development, but were not brought up Wednesday, as they might be in subsequent hearings.
Hearing a few further objections to the development and questions about what residents could do, Chiumento toward the end of the meeting sounded almost like their advocate. He spoke of the importance of keeping misinformation out of the stream, but also summed up the process from the residents’ point of view.
“You all have, and everybody has the right to form groups, as some have,” the attorney said, “and do whatever you would like to do to inform their city council or your county commission, what you’d like to see, what you don’t want to see, how this could improve, how it needs to go away, and those types of things. So that’s all part of the process, and that’s what most of the time we’re talking about. There will be hearings in front of local governments, they’ll hear everything and determine whether it complies with the law, whether it complies with all the zoning and land development regulations and environmental regulations imposed by the state, federal and local governments. That’s what your city is there to do, to ensure that it complies and they’re not doing something that they can’t do–developers and builders.”
Who cares about current residents? Bring in new residents. We must grow so we can’t take care of the people already here. That will fix the problems.
Value Seeker says
I think it would be nice to see a nice place to live for lets say, a single parent and a small child within Palm Coast for $800/ month. Theres nothing. Palm coast does not offer very many jobs that would allow one to afford $1,500 a month. I currently pay $1,100 and consider myself very lucky, Been here a few years and Not finding a better deal in fact, I apparently should be grateful for the deal I got. Where do all the people that ring me up fix my car deliver my mail etc etc where do they all live? Rent (For one of the smallest houses in my neighborhood) and electricity and water and internet cost $1324 before I buy a drop of gas or a bite of food to eat. I pull it off but wheres the value? I have to pay $2.00 to get over the bridge and its all private golf courses and condos? no beach access? Wheres the value Palm Coast?
This is what people should really be concerned about: If the bills (SB 1128 and HB 1011) in the Florida state legislature pass this session – and the session is halfway through and they ARE progressing through committees, short-term rentals will be allowed EVERYWHERE except for residences that are within an HOA. (Our legislators are removing all local control over short-term rentals with these bills.)
So, you can take those 600 residential units – let’s assume an average of 4 people/unit (say it’s a single family), and multiply that number by 4 people if it becomes a short-term rental, which is what will be allowed if these bills pass (put these bills into your search engine with the words F’lorida Legislature and read the bills for yourself). You will be shocked if you don’t know anything about what is happening in Tallahassee.
So, then, potentially triple the number of people and traffic and number of cars. Not to mention the concern people have who are just visiting, and not part of the community. Here for a week, and replaced by new groups with no ties to the area.
If you do not want this, you need to contact the Florida legislators and let them know. Our local representatives are Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Paul Renner. These bills are proposed every year, and this year they are making it through the committees. Time will run out and these bills will pass if voters/residents don’t make their wishes emphatically known. If you don’t know anything about these bills, just search for Florida short-term rental bills and Fishcher and Diaz (they are sponsors of the bills that want to take away neighborhoods and make every non-HOA neighborhood a commercial enterprise). Please act now.
These bills will apply to all existing communities and any new building within the state that doesn’t have HOA rules that control short-term rentals, so it will have a huge, terrible effect on Palm Coast, which has lots of land that will still be developed.
I know how about everyone and every home that was not here 30 years ago go away??? ):
Great idea! Our leaders have turned Flagler Beach into Coney Island and Palm Coast into “affordable” housing for one and all, i.e., affordable because the tax payer subsidizes the builders and the residents. Short-term rentals complete the picture.
Remember when everyone thought ITT was the culprit.
Disgusted Resident says
When will all the GREEDY $$ HUNGRY VULTURES be happy? When there is no land left in Flagler County to build on !!
That’s right, they don’t live here & travel these roads. (Developers & Our Elected Officials)
It all looks great on paper & in their bank accounts.
The city will not be happy till they make Palm Coast the size of Orlando. The roads are already pushed to the limits. Sorry I ever bought here and will move out when this stuff gets built. All they want is tax dollars.
I agree with you. It’s all about money. Why can’t they be happy with the city we have. It’s going to be a nightmare here for sure
Imagine Old Kings Road will turn into another Florida Park Drive or lately as is becoming Club House Drive also. Residential narrow winding roads designed by ITT for single family lots not smaller than 6 or 10 thousand sq ft (mine is over 15,000 sq ft) for pass thru (no cut thru, remember) traffic from point A to point B were houses seat barely 40 to 60 feet from speeding vehicles at about 8,400 vehicles a day and growing, many semi trucks loaded with construction supplies, gasoline, liquified gas, beverages , etc.
Some of these roads originally had 20 and 25 MPH speed limit that was increased around 2004 to accommodate growth and the “best interest” of developers requesting approval for their multifamily housing..
Originally ITT planned to develop in this county 42,000 acres to build 48,000 homes (History
Developed by ITT Community Development Corporation (Levitt) in 1969, the original development plan encompassed 48,000 home sites on approximately 42,000 acres (17,000 ha) of the 68,000 acres (28,000 ha) owned by ITT) and both the county BOCC first when ITT left and after we incorporated the city also both changed our original COMP and MPD preparing for all these multifamily increase with a lack of proper infrastructure, roads, sewers and storm water drainage. This is the reason that our surrounding saltwater canals are murkier than ever before as as I heard in several meetings, sewage gets in the intracoastal.
Our original pristine city is becoming a dump covered with litter as well and our officials until now refuse to star a good program of enforcing and fining litter bugs, telling us instead the residents need to be educated, when the only language they would understand is hitting them in their pockets. City of Palm Coast and also county need to address the soon to be mayhem in Town Center and all our narrow insufficient residential roads the incoming speeding traffic that will ensue when all these multifamily units will get their Certificate of Occupancy. Never mind the cost of services to be added, fire, law enforcement, utilities and hospital that will soon overburden the current taxpayers: http://priceofsprawl.com/
Walter Fufidio says
I agree that the meeting was cordial. However, there was a major misrepresentation. Phase I will not be limited to 600 single family units (in equivalent vehicular trips). It is actually 1,111 single family units. In trip equivalency that translates to 1,790 multi-family units or 299,460 square feet of shopping center ( about 3 big box stores).
Old Kings Rd. was blocked today with an I-95 accident detour. Without Citation Parkway or a new interchange, the chance of a business park are nonexistent. You’ll see, the property owner will build rental units then be back for a land use amendment. The property has no infrastructure.
Gwen Gerhardt says
Who is going to make sure that the law-mandated saving of gopher tortoises is conducted? Despite the rules for re-location, the sad fact is that they are territorial, but that is better than entombment.
Time to vote all the incumbent elected officials out of office.. They have sold us out to the developers. Heck Palm Coast even hired a lobbyist for the builders and developers to run the development department. The reason you are seeing all of these mega developments of apartments is because the developers now run the city. Holland and Klufas are up for re-election neither of these two even own property in Palm Coast. Why are they being permitted to make decisions detrimental to those of us that are invested in this city. Vote them out!
Gus Rumpf says
You are CORRECT!
Gus Rumpf says
What we need here is MANUFACTURING. Florida needs more manufacturing jobs period and this area needs these better paying so we can support ourselves better and not need to drive so far to and from work.
And NO we do not need more housing developments. We have plenty enough infrastructure congestion already. Manufacturing will bring more money into the community to help pay for infrastructure improvements.