The Palm Coast City Council is looking for a compromise on the controversial 17-acre Harborside proposal that would total 432 apartments and housing units, mostly in a massive, U-shaped tower by the Palm Coast Marina. The number includes 72 units in an existing tower.
Today, in an unusually conditional unanimous vote, the council directed the developer and the city administration to rework the number of units and the language of the development proposal so as to make Harborside more palatable both to existing residents and the council. The council will take another vote on the results on Feb. 7. The outcome is uncertain.
On paper, the vote was an approval of the development. In reality, it was an odd maneuver more akin to a continuance to the next meeting, so as to avoid tabling the matter yet again. The matter will have its second public hearing on Feb. 7, and the two sides will be under pressure to come up with a resolution.
The applicant and the city administration, in this case led by Ray Tyner, have been there before. Nothing says they’ll agree to a compromise this time. On the other hand, Tyner said the developer has brought forth new suggestions since Friday that seem encouraging, and both the applicant and the administration now see the council’s battle lines more clearly drawn, since they got the chance to hear the council members state their positions for the first time.
“Yes, I think we can come to a new compromise,” Tyner said.
The applicant will not get the majority it needs without reducing its number of units. But there is enough enthusiasm for the project on the council that the city administration may now realize that a reduction of 122 units may be a few units too far. The city has already agreed to increase the density somewhat, in the developer’s favor, from 15 units per acre to 18.
The city does not appear willing to go past that level, and JDI does not appear willing to decrease its density, which may mean that, absent one of the two sides blinking in the next few weeks, today’s talk of compromise may be no more than talk.
Since Jim Jacobi’s JDI Palm Coast proposed the project last May, the plan to add the development next to an existing 72-unit apartment tower again and again has come down to this same issue from the city’s perspective: it’s just too many units.
The city administration recommends against approval past 310 units–a 122-unit difference. The Palm Coast Planning Board, after two epic hearings, voted against recommending the project. The Palm Coast City Council delayed hearing it last December, to provide more time for a compromise. That’s not what was presented to the council today. The proposal looked much the way it did in May, and again as it made its way to the Planning Board.
Not that it wants to, but it’s in the council’s power to simply deny the application. It may risk litigation, but a strict reading of the code may be on the city’s side, as once of th council members (a lawyer) sees it. The applicant’s lawyer, Jay Livingston, doesn’t see it that way, though knowing local judges–who take very strictly constructionist readings of municipal codes–he probably doesn’t want to risk litigation.
So the two sides have disagreed not only on unit numbers but on interpretations of city code. That’s nothing new: developers and city planners often disagree on those grounds, which is why controversies like Harborside fester longer than they otherwise would. Both sides acknowledged today that it’s a matter of policy the council must arbitrate.
What may be spurring the Harborside developer to compromise is what it heard from City Council member Theresa Pontieri, who took her seat on the council after the matter went before the Planning Board. A lawyer by trade, she sharply summed up the council’s support for the project in principle and its opposition to the project as it stands now. She clearly reflected that mix of enthusiasm and reluctance also evident from Council members Ed Danko, Nick Klufas and Cathy Heighter, and as such, she may be the member Harborside must win over before the project goes forth.
“I’m going to speak out in opposition to approval. I’m concerned not about the use of this project but about the density,” Pontieri said, two-thirds of the way into the hearing, speaking words that must have set off alarm bells for the developer. She cited the policy that limits density at 15 units per acre, not the proposed 25. She said she wants the site built up, she wants the additional tax revenue and residents, and the additional base of potential customers to European Village’s struggling businesses. But the developer’s recurring coyness bothered her. “The problem in my view is that we don’t have any certainties by the applicant at this point. We have a lot of likelihoods, we have a lot of maybes, and I’m uncomfortable with that.”
It was the same set of maybes that had left the Planning Board groaning. For example, the possibility of a hotel at the site, which the city favors, is still murky. The developer isn’t sure it would be commercially viable.
Pontieri rejected “the false ultimatum that it’s either this way or no way. And I do think that there is some wiggle room.” But, Pontieri said, “I think that we’re setting a bad precedent if we sit here today and are not mindful of what the code says. If we say that this qualifies as a creatively planned project, then this sets a precedent for what other developers can do in the future. And I’m not willing to go that far. I’m especially not willing to go that far at 10 units an acre. I think that that’s an incredible jump and the city has been gracious by offering to deviate from 15 units an acre to 18 and that may not be enough to determine the profit that the developer is looking for. But I’m not willing to make the jump at 10 and to set that precedent by adopting an ordinance that would allow that.”
The developer has argued that the density fits in with neighboring densities. The city has countered that the Bella Harbor development to the north is at 10.5 units per acre, and that Marina Cove to the south is at 7.8 units per acre, still far from the density Harborside is asking for. Other nearby developments have lower densities.
Pontieri initially wanted to table the matter. JDI representative Tarik Bateh pushed for a vote of approval, with conditions, which he ultimately got. As for a resolution, he was less sanguine than Tyner, however.
“We will certainly continue dialogue with staff. We will certainly try and find the solution. And I believe staff will do the same,” Bateh said. “We’re a bit surprised that new issues have been raised, which were not previously addressed.”
Bateh made clear that as far as JDI is concerned, certain lines will not be crossed. “We have we’ve made clear that we have a high degree of confidence that we can execute the project before with 432 total units,” he said. “We’ve also made clear that as you erode that, it doesn’t necessarily kill the project. But at some point, if you erode it too much and reduce it too much, it will kill the project. But we won’t know that until several years down the road, which is bad for everybody. Then we have no project. But it’s not that we have no project today. It’s that we have no project several years down the road and everybody’s wasted time and effort. We don’t know where our line is, to be candid, which is not to say we can’t reduce it at all. Just know that our confidence goes down if we do reduce it. So if staff is in the same position that they’ve been thus far, and they’re simply unable to recommend in excess of 310 units, then I would tell you that there’s nothing for us to talk about.”
The city has put forth additional “public benefit conditions,” which JDI is willing to talk about. But not necessarily comply with.
- Harborside Tower Proposal Postponed as Developer Hints at More Compromise
- Harborside Tower in Dispute: Palm Coast and Developer Still Far Apart Over Allowable Number of Apartments
- Plan for a Massive Apartment Tower at Harborside Draws Opposition, Accusations and Delay
So the realstate council members make big commissions on the deal. There are 2 of them. 1000s of dollars they will get. Nice there should be no council members in the realstate business on the board.
Tina Olive says
Storm Brewing says
DISGUSTING HUMANS……… Rape the land, kill the animals, over crowd the already populated place I now call the CRAP HOLE of the Coast. I’m so DISGUSTED with real estate sub-human sales people and their nest of VULTURES. I hope a HUGE 200 mph Hurricane hits this place HEAD ON DIRECT and wipes all the houses and apartments all the way over Interstate 95 to West Flagler.
Michael Cocchiola says
WoW! So, Storm, you seem to have a problem with this project, with realtors, with Palm Coast, and parts of Flagler County.
I’d say you’re unhappy here. But, if you take the time to really look around, you’d find the beauty that most of us enjoy. Drive around a bit. You’ll see what I mean.
I do agree that we have to be really careful to not damage the ambiance of Palm Coast and Flagler by overbuilding. We’ve not reached that point yet, and we have room for a buildout of Harborside. That marina must be preserved, and if it takes some residential and commercial facilities, I’m all in. The key is compromise.
Storm Brewing says
WoW ! So , Michael you seem to have NO PROBLEM with more TRAFFIC, CRIME, POPULATION. Listen up, I have been here since 1987. I have seen the growth of this place. Its DISGUSTING !!!! . You can gladly live here and ROT. I’ve enjoyed the last 30 years, but now I’m heading to the other side of Florida. Up where there’s less people and more beautiful wilderness. SEE YA !!!!
Glad to hear this project may die. The developer has not been forthcoming with many answers and has been pushing a density that is not in the interests of Palm Coast. Someone else will develop the site, and this time they will understand there is a limit to density.
Dennis C Rathsam says
RIP Palm Coast…. Stuff Em in Alvin striked again, More people, more crime, a hell of a lot more traffic! Alvin???? dont U realize the traffic problem????? Do you give a rats ass????? Ladies & Gentlemen, your witnessing the destruction of our city! Call the mayor… tell him, obviously he has no clue, or like I stated he dont care. Wake Up folks…. this is your city, this is where you retired and found a better life… Dont let these fools destroy our town. Stuff Em In Alvin…. Gotts to go!!!! Recall this realator!
Concerned Citizen says
How much money has changed hands between the Mayor,the Planning board and Developers?
Follow the money. It will tell a tale. Or maybe the FBI should??
I can’t support this many units just down the road from my quiet street. Please take this monster project out of our already developed quiet neighborhoods over here and give us what you promised, a hotel.
We will be watching, Mayor Alfin.
Construction is slowing, real estate sales are being canceled and real estate prices are being cut by thousands. I remember Economics 101 “ If demand is lacking and inventory is abundant the official name for this in real estate is a CRASH !
What happens when these developers cannot sell their units to people because they can’t afford the mortgage rate increases; or that Palm Coast is a “bedroom community” where the two closest “big cities” are nothing more that glorified bedroom communities themselves. That means no “real” employment in the area unless you drive to Jacksonville ,Orlando or Canaveral everyday. Try that with gas prices rising faster than a helium balloon.
The only ones are “work at homers” then again if I could work from home with a laptop I could live anywhere and not a overcrowded glorified housing project. So that only leaves the retired pensioners from the north who’s pensions don’t increase and will be buying at top prices or the Section 8 low income, government subsidized group.
One day Palm Coast will be Detroit if building, building and more building is allowed with a wink and a nod from the council.
John Stove says
About time they move forward on this project. Fine tune the density to what the zoning calls for and move on. This will be a nice development on a vacant piece of land that was always supposed to have a hotel etc
Next, upgrade the marina and now we have a destination for people to spend their dollars locally.
Celia Pugliese says
No matter who we vote in this council they end up against the residents pleas. Councilwoman Pointieri was the one starting with a NO and we hoped she would have stuck to her opposition along Heighter but nope at the end they approve to proceed with “conditions”, (conditions like in 2005) will be erased at close doors. We the many residents that spoke against this proposal are not against the project we are against the density of the 452 units demanded. There went councilman Danko all for it that shows that this is what we get in this city from MAGA’s. No matter the promises on the trail they stab us in the back. Now we will get 452 more housing units in that small space more density than ever approved before and no hotel and no restaurants and God knows what will be of the marina. Exactly the failed promises under Mayor Canfield administration in 2005 with full support of then and later bankrupted Local Chamber of Commerce now resuscitated with Blasoe that again takes a stand against the residents in favor of the 452 units. In 2005 also failed promises like now we were supposed to get the destroyed beloved former Sheraton/Palm Coast Resort Hotel with 300 jobs lost, rebuilt and its restaurants and Henry’s (I thought named) Bar but nope under closed doors then city officials allowed Centex to built the Palm Coast resort condos tower and huge garage for the future hotel that sticks like a sore thumb at the end of Clubhouse drive destroying the architectural view of the surrounding area. Also the city allowed the JDI LLC later to close in our “grandfathering by law” walkway along the intracoastal all the way to then public gazebo permitted by ITT since in the 70’s the gazebo and hotel were built in the ICU by ITT that promoted enjoying freely the walkway, the view for residents and community events. Simple because the residents do not get together to gather funds and individually can’t afford the right Land Development Attorney like Theriaque and Spain to defend them against these imposed incorrect interpretations of the Florida Land Development Laws that protect the safety, enjoyment, quality of life and value of the homes of the existing residents to be affected by a proposed over development. If our COMP plan says 15.5 units per acre and already a permissible increase was given for 18.5 why is council and mayor other than say NO have to allow to go over that additional density when the residents are pleading NO to it? We are being held hostage? If not this developer another will come and will build what our COMP plan allows in that prime located parcel that is the access door to our marine Palm Coast. JDI can always sell and go. Isn’t enough the profit they made with Marineland and parcels, etc. he bought in 2004 for about 2 million and sold dolphins for about 1 plus million to Orlando aquarium as I recall. https://www.gotoby.com/jacoby-development-buys-palm-coast-resort-property-from-centex/. https://www.staugustine.com/story/news/local/2011/01/05/marineland-owner-park-here-stay/16214756007/Mr. Jacoby promised like now (restaurant, marina, etc.) then in Marineland to preserve : “Jim Jacoby paid to have the (large, blue) arches saved, the rocking boat bar saved, the brass portholes and the little diver that everybody had their picture taken with,” Whittemore said. “Those things will be re-incorporated.”, Was a lie as never done, none of it: https://www.ocala.com/story/news/2006/07/06/marineland-hopes-to-make-a-big-splash/31163692007/ Can all the affected owners get together and gather funds to hire their Land Development attorney to defend their rights? Because looks unfortunately, is the only way left by our elected officials, for the residents that elected them to their seats. My last plea to Mr. Jacoby aka JDI LLC; we are not against your project just “its density” have you not made enough profit on the backs of Palmcoasters yet at yours and mine advance age how much more we have left in this world Mr. Jacoby in our late 70’s?. Be instead well regarded and remembered in Palm Coast, by building the units allowed in our comp plan and our restaurant and bar and preserve our marina…In life is not what we take with us when we leave (as we all have to leave one day), but instead the permanent legacy of what we left behind us for new generations” Please..?
Celia Pugliese says
Are the city of Palm Coast officials utilizing Spot Zoning against the residents please to change it to benefit developers o contractors demanding higher density or cell towers or other proposals that do not conform the original comp plan?: https://mccmeetingspublic.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/frnkctyfl-meet-f6a07b7d22a447fcbffbf82a0347b0ff/ITEM-Attachment-001-c147802b0930456885004751bcd6fd57.pdf
Celia Pugliese says
Are the city of Palm Coast officials utilizing Spot Zoning conditional or not, against the opposing residents plead, to change it to benefit developers o contractors demanding higher density or cell towers or other proposals that do not conform the original comp plan? Spot zoning is illegal in most cases and nation wide: https://mccmeetingspublic.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/frnkctyfl-meet-f6a07b7d22a447fcbffbf82a0347b0ff/ITEM-Attachment-001-c147802b0930456885004751bcd6fd57.pdf
How bout job’s or job’s and then fix traffic you know that is a problem but you dont care you weasels and job’s
Celia Pugliese says
Traffic will increase in Clubhouse Drive with this mayor and council “conditional” approval for over 430 units exposing residents to: https://envhealthcenters.usc.edu/infographics/infographic-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution. Why did they approve something that deviates from all built before around it and does niot conform with the zoning against the NO from the planning board and planning staff recommendation? No matter the many pleads of the affected residents? The “conditional” will be erased easily like the hotel its events rentable hall for weddings, corporate or sports venues, restaurant and a bar never built back in 2005. We just got the Palm Coast Resort condos only on the back room deals. The 300 jobs lost with the Sheraton/Palm Coast Resort Hotel demolition never came back, This was and is the way this city promotes jobs creation or protects the residents safety, health and their quality of life by “spot zoning” exceptions allover Palm Coast?