The Flagler County Commission on Monday approved Plantation Bay developer Mori Hosseini’s applications for building the latest phase of the community straddling Flagler and Volusia counties, but not before Hossini’s ICI Homes took a drubbing from residents and County Commissioner Dave Sullivan. The commissioner said ICI Homes is not doing enough to share in the county’s burdens of repairing Plantation Bay’s troubled water and sewer utilities. Hosseini sold the utility to the county in 2013. His representative told the commission ICI is sharing the burden through utility impact fees.
The commission approved ICI Home’s preliminary plat application for its latest expansion at Plantation Bay, but by a 3-2 vote, with Sullivan and Commissioner Charlie Ericksen in dissent. Commissioners Donald O’Brien, Greg Hansen and Joe Mullins approved.
Sullivan seized on wording in the application’s documentation to make his objections: “No final plat approval to occur until extension of potable water and sanitary sewer is installed and approved by the County as the utility provider,” went one of the conditions.
“I suspect that will happen, and you will check it to make sure that will happen,” Sullivan said, referring to the county administration. He said the county has “a decent plan” in place. “The problem is we still owe $6 million for the excessive amount of money we paid for the thing to start with, and that’s hanging over us. It’s not specifically for this particular project.”
“When Mr. [David] Haas from ICI commented here, he was very short-shrift, ‘well, don’t worry, the water is getting clean and we’ve got plenty of room,’” Sullivan continued. “I’m still concerned that ICI has never taken seriously providing some help. I know the $6 million we owe is out of his hands and it’s with the state. I do think we could use support from ICI to try to help in providing some alleviation of that $6 million that is still owed. I don’t think it concerns this specific item, but I’d just like to get on record that I don’t think ICI has been as helpful that they could have been over the years in helping us with the overall system.”
Finley said as Plantation Bay continues to grow, the county is getting impact fees on water and sewer to help offset the costs of improvements.
“But the original is gone,” Sullivan said of the purchasing amount.
The Plantation Bay Development of Regional Impact was originally approved for 6,000 homes, including the portion of Plantation bay that stretches into Volusia County. The DRI was revised to allow for 5,000 units. It’s been built in phases, or “units,” not necessarily in numerical order.
The 30-acre Unit 13 is in the center of Plantation Bay. Bay Drive is to the south, Sterling bridge is to the north. Unit 10, 1 and 12 have not yet been approved and will be submitted to the county later. The developer is proposing 132 single-family homes built as quadriplexes. “These are four units per building, so you have 33 buildings,” Adam Mengle, the county’s planning director, said. There will be 20 feet between each quadriplex building, front and back. The original density permitted at the site was for between 180 to 240 dwelling units. The proposed 132 units would result in a density of 4.46 units per acre.
“Water and sewer does have capacity for this development to occur, and it’s my understanding that Phase One wastewater improvements have been completed,” Jerry Finley of Finley Engineering Solutions said. Phase Two is in design. The water-treatment plant is also under construction.
A resident recalled how in 2013 the county paid Hosseini $5.5 million for what was then a water and sewer plant in disrepair. The utility had been an albatross on county government until recent and expensive plans to rebuild it–costs that have come in addition to purchasing costs six years ago. “Mori Hosseini should be footing the bill for every bit of it and should be refunding Flagler County for that $5.5 million,” a resident told commissioners, reflecting lingering resentment over a deal that soured residents’ trust in county government.
Jane Gentile-Youd, a Plantation bay resident and former county commission candidate, addressed transportation: “This 132-units, the third entrance must be opened prior to selling any of the units,” she said. “This bullcrap of closely tied means nothing. If we have a fire or a hurricane, we have two entrances for over 5,000 people. One hundred thirty two units is at least another 300 people. To say that we are working and that it will be closely tied is not good enough. You cannot approve this unless the third entrance is opened.” She was also critical of 20-foot driveways, saying the minimum should be 28 feet, or the absence of parks in the Flagler portion of Plantation Bay. “I don’t object to the number of units whatsoever, but it’s everything surrounding it,” she said, also citing the utility. She asked that the proposal be tabled.
“I don’t see any reason that there’s a problem in moving with this,” Commissioner Joe Mullins, whose district includes Plantation Bay, said. “I do see a very big desire from the community to see more growth. They don’t want to participate in personal vendettas, personal issues.”
See the background material for Plantation bay’s applications here.