Despite community opposition, divided County Commission approves Hammock development

The Hammock Community Association has opposed the proposed Beachwalk development, saying it's out of character with the area.

County Commissioner Joe Mullins speaks during a commission meeting Sept. 16. (Photo by Jonathan Simmons)
County Commissioner Joe Mullins speaks during a commission meeting Sept. 16. (Photo by Jonathan Simmons)
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The board chambers of the county's Government Services Building filled up with shades of mint and grass green as dozens of Hammock Community Association members filled the audience wearing green shirts to show their opposition to a proposed 50-home development off State Road A1A.

Still, a divided County Commission approved the proposal.

Commissioner Greg Hansen, whose district includes the Hammock, made known his opposition to the proposal — saying he had "a lot of problems with this" —  early in the board's discussion.

"The plan that they have is a good plan, except it has 50 houses in it," Hansen said. "Take that same plan … and put 36 houses in it, and I’ll vote for it."

As it is, he said, "It’s just going ruin that part of the Hammock, so I’m just strongly against this; I think it’s the wrong thing to do."

The commission has seen proposals for the development, called Beachwalk, in the past, and had previously rejected it. 

Jacksonville-based developer Ken Atlee told commissioners during the Sept. 16 meeting that his firm has now adapted Beachwalk based on community input.

"We gave up on many of the requested changes to work with the community in good faith," Atlee said.

Atlee's firm is under contract on the land.

He noted that the Beachwalk proposal involves extending a sewer line to the development, rather than using septic systems, and that if his proposal does not move forward, some other developer could put in septic systems on that land under the current zoning.

Many coastal areas are trying to move away from septic systems because of their tendency to leak into the soil, and, from there, into nearby water bodies.

About a dozen community members spoke during the meeting's public comment period to voice their opposition to the proposal. Several said it would set a precedent for high-density development in the Hammock and that it doesn't meet the requirements of a Planned Unit Development, the designation that Atlee wants to have the land rezoned to, because it doesn't meet the PUD requirement of being creative.

"There’s nothing innovative about this; this is a housing development," said resident Lynn Rosewater. "The requirement for a PUD has not been met, and if it’s not been met, you can not vote for it. ... They asked you for a PUD simply to get greater density."

One resident, Pam Hathaway, said she'd moved to the Hammock from South Florida 17 years ago, and does not want to see Flagler County become as over-developed as the counties in the south of the state.

But the Flagler Chamber submitted a letter to the County Commission supporting the proposal, as did the Flagler Home Builders Association. 

Commissioner Joe Mullins said the potential for the area to be developed by another developer using septic tanks if the Beachwalk proposal falls through worried him.

"I’m very concerned about septic tanks; I don't want to see them out there at all," he said. "I think they’re destroying our environment. ... The septic tank thing is a very serious thing."

Hansen proposed a motion to deny the Beachwalk application, but he and Commissioner Charlie Ericksen were the only ones in favor of the motion to deny. 

A motion to approve the proposal passed 3-2. Mullins, Commissioner Donald O'Brien and Commissioner David Sullivan voted in favor; Hansen and Ericksen voted against.



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