The Palm Coast City Council this morning voted 4-1 to approve on second and final reading the proposed Lakeview Estates development that would transform the long-disused Matanzas Golf course into a residential home development of more than 200 houses. The vote added to already-strict city demands on the developer, expanding a required buffer on one of the tracts to 150 feet instead of 100.
On Jan. 5, the council voted 3-2 to approve the development on first reading, but with key restrictions over which the developer and city planners had haggled over and reached impasse. The development would be spread over 10 parcels that roughly overlay the old golf course.
The council’s 4-1 vote ends the proposal’s 15-month-long churn through regulatory steps and significant public opposition from existing residents around the course. Residents have argued that the development will pack too many homes in too little space, with many of its proposed lot sizes too small, potentially jeopardizing existing property values. Opponents also raised environmental concerns, such as possible arsenic content in the fairways, though a study has allayed those fears
Some residents addressing the council today said the city was setting the wrong precedent in view of what could happen at Pine Lakes and Palm Harbor golf courses. Celia Puglese, a resident near the Palm Harbor course, echoed that thought. She said there’s no opposition to developments, “but there are very few that we oppose that directly affect our quality of life, health and safety,” she said, asking the council to “lobby for the residents.”
But as precedents go, the council’s final vote and restrictions now appear to have largely protected rather than encroached on existing residents’ views, while granting development on land entitled to it. In other words, the city’s template for the Matanzas golf course prizes compromise and pragmatism over an all-or-nothing approach–pleasing neither side entirely, but also carving out enough room for reasonable development within ample green bands, and without seriously endangering existing residents’ views.
The city’s decision hewed closely with its planners’ restrictions on the development, namely forbidding development on one of the disputed tracts–so-called Tract 3, stretching on a fairway along Lakeview Boulevard to the east and neighboring Lee Drive to the west. City staffers said any development there would violate the “view protection zone” existing homeowners expect. Most development will take place away from residents’ “viewsheds.”
Despite the restrictions, Michael Chiumento III, the developer’s attorney, said this morning, using the acronym for a planned unit development, that “We’re happy with the PUD with the way it is. We wanted additional things and we came here willing to live with what planning board and city council had recommended,” suggesting that the developer would not challenge the city’s decision and would go forward with the development within the restrictions. But he was answering questions about an additional restriction that would be imposed, and that he opposed, based on this morning’s discussion.
Setbacks or buffers were repeatedly in dispute, and were again this morning. The buffers stretch from 50 to 100 feet, depending on the location. Some residents asked for wider setbacks. One resident who addressed the council this morning asked that the setback on Tract 9, along U.S. 1, on the westernmost edge of the development, be extended to 150 feet, from 100 feet. The developer–Palm Coast’s Alex Ustilovsky–had won a concession from the planning board and the city on that tract previously. The city agreed, against its planners’ recommendation, to allow the developer to spread construction across the tract’s entire 8 acres, rather than concentrate development in one area. Today, the allowance was narrowed by a new restriction.
Council member Ed Danko made the motion to approve the entire development, with Victor Barbosa seconding, but with a buffer expanded to 150 feet on Tract 9. Chiumento was not pleased with the added restriction.
“Can you be a little more specific on how it would interfere?” Danko asked him. “I’m just not quite sure where you’re going with that.”
“When you begin to push further to the west, it limits development area, that doesn’t mean that in that additional 50 feet we can’t place trees and do development,” Chouimento said. “There are setbacks. We had talked about, before, with staff and made proposals to city council about having building setbacks from the property lines. That didn’t get discussed. So at this very second and time, all I can tell you is that it begins to limit the functional development of that parcel, particularly in those areas. If you look at it, if you continue to go west, it literally makes that area 100 to 180 feet deep which, from a development standpoint become very difficult, particularly when you also place the 35-foot height limitation.” The tract is about 300 feet wide.
You can’t be very specific on this, correct?” Danko later asked him again.
“Again, this is an agreement between the developer and the city,” Chiumento said, returning to the lectern. “If you’re asking, are we willing to consent to adding another 150 feet, the answer is no.” He acknowledged that the addition would be 50 feet, extending the buffer to 150 feet.
Danko, Barbosa, Mayor Milissa Holland and Nick Klufas voted for the motion. Barbosa switched from opposition on first reading to approval today. Council member Eddie Branquinho, who had dissented on jan. 5, did so again today.
All told, the proposal drew the least public response or opposition today, though that’s not unusual on an ordinance’s second reading.
“When I purchased a home I was told no one could build on the fairways behind me,” Susan Shiverdecker, a London Drive resident, said, repeating a common refrain among the opposition.
“I am in opposition to this, it does not meet the Land Development purpose,” another resident said, calling in, adding that the proposal doesn’t meet “other requirements” and uses “deceptive language–Lakeview Estates are not estates, 50-foot lots are not estate lots.”
It was a resident from Lake Success Drive who, during the public-comment segment, deemed the 100-foot buffer on Tract 9 “insufficient,” calling for 150 feet. She would win that concession from a council that, throughout the haggles over the proposed development going back to late 2019, reflects a city government significantly more sensitive than not to residents’ concerns.
The background on the Lakeview Estates development:
this whole town is going down the drain, every single inch of land has to have a house or a strip mall on it!!!
Rob K. says
There were solutions that would have worked better for the Developer, Neighbors, and city.
The problem is restricted citizen input. Quasi Judicial, the Developer and attorney not meeting with the entire neighborhood , 3 minute public comment at both PLDRB and Council chambers. A roundtable discussion between all parties would have produced a better outcome for all parties.
Will be just like Orlando soon. Time to get out of town.
Given the lack of infrastructure to sustain all the newcomers that all these approved developers projects represent, there should be a moratorium in new developments until sufficient road, sewer, drainage and fire and law enforcement service in place. This is given the fact that the county gave 8 years of no impact fees to developers and here we are now. The smell of sewage in FPD addressed with the Island Walk mall owner after they did extensive work still stinking the high heaven like yesterday Saturday 1/23. The speeders and hits and run pets and wildlife and deadly accidents overpower the limited sheriff traffic units assigned. We have to pay in our city utility a 22 million new sewer treatment plant north in Rte 1 to serve the new 4,000 plus development and others around it making our utility rate increase when actually the proper impact fees should pay for that. Palmcoasters buy on a golf community then the course is sold and they get approved to build smaller lost an homes in a community originally designed with existing much larger lots and homes. Unless we spend in expensive lawyer fees to battle developers and city approvals then we loose. How fair is all that..?