Palm Coast businesses and developers like redundancy: gas stations, health care and assisted living facilities, car washes, self-storage. The redundancy in turn speaks to the demographics of the area: older, more leisurely, downsizing, more prone to ailments. Thursday evening, the Palm Coast Planning Board cleared the way for two more of the familiar types of businesses: a self-storage facility on Old Kings Road North, and a car wash on State Road 100 and Belle Terre Boulevard.
The self-storage facility is the third approved for Old Kings Road, north or south, in the last four weeks. Facilities were also approved on Old Kings Road South near Hidden Lakes, and near Toscana. The latest approval exclude RVs and boats, as the first two did not. Flagler County is experiencing a boom in self-storage facilities that risks approaching a glut, now that development appears to be inching down from its peak last spring and summer.
Take 5 Express Car Wash will open in the Shoppes of Palm Coast strip on State Road 100, across from Target. It replaces the Gate gas station originally planned for the site. The 1-acre site is between between the relatively new Culvers restaurant and Taco Bell. The three-lane car wash will operate on 4,200 square feet. The land is zoned commercial, but Driven Brands, Take 5’s parent company, was seeking a special exception from the city that would allow for the car wash at that location. (The location is owned by Ramzy Bakkar of Jacksonville.)
Jason Sheridan of Pennoni Associates, who represents Take 5, said the car wash itself will tale up 3,600 square feet and use three 1,500-gallon recycled water tank and a 2,500-gallon “sand interceptor” before the water drains into the sewer system.
The car wash will be express only–meaning self-service, to the dismay of one of the planning board members. “It seems like we’ve lost all of our full service in town,” the board member said. Sandra Shanks, another board member, noted that when the strip was first approved in 2015, a car wash was not in the plans. She was worried about traffic’s impact on the site.
“That’s one of the things that we looked at really hard to make sure that the cars will not stack out into the internal driveway areas,” Ray Tyner, the assistant development director, said. “We actually made several modifications or had the applicant make several modification to make sure that the stacking would not not come out.” Tyner said the number of vehicles that would go through the site will be less than those that had been calculated for what would have been the Gate gas station there. A car wash would take about two minutes. The facility provides for 150 feet of stacking space before vehicles interfere with the rest of the site’s common areas. The business would likely operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sheridan said, with an employee on site.
The planning board approved the special exception 6-1, with Shanks dissenting.
The 36-acre King’s Crossing Storage facility had received its special exception nearly three years ago–with no fewer than 20 conditions from the city, because there are significant wetlands and flood plains on the site. It took that long for the developers to comply with the conditions (including building all sorts of culvers and “compensatory storage” for flooding waters), and return to the planning board with a site plan. It’s not been easy. “Before this project, I didn’t use hair color. Now I’m a Clairol M9,” a candid Dan Wilcox, the chief engineer on the project, said of the light-brown hair-coloring agent. “This project has just about worn us out. It is a tough one.” Water runoff and flooding were critical concerns.
“On a positive note,’ Tyner said, “because there are significant wetlands associated with with this site, any of the residential properties that you’ll see on the presentation are well buffered by a high quality wetland system. And the only real neighbor that the storage facility would have would be I-95.”
King’s Crossing is halfway between Matanzas Woods Parkway and Palm Coast Parkway, on the west side of Old Kings. One building will amount to 10,011 square feet, another, a two-story building, will total 59,730 square feet. The facility will make 838 individual internal storage spaces available.
The city was concerned about “the viability of the existing wildlife corridor that the parcel currently provides,” according to Terracon, the consulting engineers who conducted an Imperiled Species Study and a Wetland Impact Analysis for the facility. “After an analysis of the corridor, Terracon determined that the four(4) 36” culverts being proposed for the road crossing will allow continuity for most mammal species, with the larger species such as deer and feral hog being able to cross over the road,” Terracon’s analysts states. “In addition, the road will have minimal trips, estimated to be 8 trips per day of
vehicular volume. The proposed mitigative measures, such as a 10 mile per hour speed limit will result in a low risk environment to crossing animals, while landscape plantings at the crossings will allow the animals to be near the road before crossing, minimize time to cross. Therefore, with these mitigative measures, Wildlife Vehicular Collisions (WVC) will minimal and the ability of the property to be wildlife corridor therefore should not be disrupted.”
As for consumers and clients, the facility will be your standard self-storage type, catering to household goods and business equipment, but no firearms, drugs and hazardous materials. Signatures are required on leases, but there are no systematic inspections of actual storage units. The site will be hidden by wetlands, with the top of the building perhaps visible from I-95.
But then a disagreement took Tony Kostantinidis, the applicant and owner of the facility, by surprise. He assumed there could be–there would be–RV and boat storage outside. Planning board members, reading the application, determined differently. Some were under the impression that there would not be any boats and RVs there. The distinction, for Konstantinidis, was that the boats and RVs would not be visible, but would be there.
“As far as planning, we don’t care what you store inside the unit as long as it’s not hazardous,” Bill Hoover, the senior planner on the project, said. But a storage facility representative wanted to stress that there would also be boats and RVs outside, only the vehicles would not be visible from any right of way.
“The document that we were given in the background section says the applicant has submitted a technical site plan application for an enclosed self storage facility without the outside storage of boats or recreational vehicles, that’s the very first line,” Shank said. She clarified: she was not necessarily opposed to boats and RVs, only to the inconsistency between the wording of documents and what she was hearing from the applicant then and there.
“The plan before you today will not–will not–have outside storage,” Tyner agreed. “If they want to come in and modify their plan, because their site plan that we have now does not show outside storage, if they want to come in and modify their plan at a later date, they can do so and go through the process again and modify that to show where they outside storage is going to be.”
“So I just want to make sure that we’re clear and that you’re clear that when we vote, that we’re not voting for–it does not include outside storage,” Shank told Konstantinidis.
“So you would have the choice to move forward tonight with no outside storage, if that’s what the board determines,” Planning Board Chairman Clint Smith told Konstantinidis, “or table and resubmit and come back with one that does have outside storage. But right now the presentation that we have does not allow outside storage. I don’t want to put you in a pickle, but–”
Konstantinidis did not let him finish: “Well, it kind of is a little bit putting us in a pickle,” he said. “We’ve been working on this for so long to get to this point and there is a real need in Palm Coast for the RV and boat outside storage. And although we do have quite a few large indoor units, to fit a larger RV or a larger boat, it would be beneficial to the development to the community to allow that.” But he conceded that “if we’ve got to go through another submittal process, and that’s the only way we can vote on it right now, then I guess we would take that because we’d like to move forward with just the building.” He pushed the board as much as he could.
The board pushed back. “There’s a review process that does not involve the planning board. So you have to go through the planning department for that,” Shank said. “Even if we wanted to grant that approval–and I understand how you feel–we simply don’t have the power to do that.” Konstantinidis conceded.
There were no public comments. The board approved the site plan application with conditions, 7-0.