In March, the County Commission voted 5-0 to turn down Jacksonville-based developer Ken Atlee's request for a rezoning that would have allowed the construction of a 54-home development in the Hammock. Then the county entered into mediation with Atlee, and the commission voted 3-2 to OK rezoning for a development with up to 50 homes.
But it didn't ratify that decision at the next meeting, opting instead to table it. Now, the commission will give Atlee another chance, at the meeting scheduled for Aug. 19.
The 12-acre parcel at the intersection of State Road A1A and Jungle Hut Road, to be named Beachwalk, is currently zoned residential commercial, and Atlee had petitioned to have the zoning changed to "planned unit development," or PUD.
The change would have also reduced the required lot size from a minimum of 75 feet to a minimum of 50 feet, allowing for greater density — from the 34 homes that would be allowed under existing zoning up to potentially as many as 87, although Atlee was only planning for 54.
The county's staff and its Planning and Land Development Board had recommend approval of the proposal, but commissioners considered the proposal's density out of character for the neighborhood, voting against it on March 18. After informal mediation and some changes to there development plan, the commission OK'd the project 3-2, with Commissioners Greg Hansen and Charlie Ericksen dissenting. But then it opted to delay ratification.
On Aug. 5, Atlee appeared before the commission during the commission meeting's public comment period.
He requested a spot on the upcoming meeting's agenda, and the board — with Hansen dissenting, saying later that he believed the proposed development to be out of character with the neighborhood — opted to grant him one.
Joy Ellis, a Hammock resident, urged commissioners to act in accord with the county's established codes.
"I just wanted to thank you for your previous action on Beachwalk," she said. "I think you took that action in consideration of the comprehensive plan and land development code. ... and I hope that you will be consistent in supporting those principles."
County approves protective barriers for Supervisor of Elections Office
Flagler County's elections supervisor, Kaiti Lenhart, has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to identify any vulnerabilities — cyber or physical — at the county's elections office.
They've found one: The lack of a partition barrier between the office's clerks and members of the public; and, in the Canvassing Board meeting room, between members of the public and ballot tabulation machines.
The lack of a barrier in the Canvassing Board room, Lenhart said, had previously led to scenarios in which members of the public were at arms length from ballots, and could have grabbed them had they wanted to.
Commissioner Donald O'Brien, who'd taken part in last year's recount and noted the overcrowding in the Canvassing Board room, said he could see the need for barriers that would keep the public away from the tabulation machines. But he was less convinced about the need for a bank-teller-style barrier between the public and the Elections Office's front counter staff.
The county still has departments that are handling cash that don't have such a barrier, he told Lenhart.
"I don’t believe you're taking any cash; if you do, it’s probably minimal," he said.
Lenhart said that although cash isn't handled at the front counter, vote-by-mail ballots are.
"Ballots are priceless," she said. "That's something that was brought up by the DHS."
The commission voted unanimously to approve a $15,300 expenditure for the upgrades.