A 2005 Planned Unit Development south of the county airport remains in effect, clearing the path for the developer to move forward with a proposal for 416 age-restricted homes there, Flagler County commissioners decided at a Feb. 21 commission meeting.
"All we're asking for today is just guidance from you all as to whether the PUD is still valid, and we can continue on under those entitlements and this general concept plan."
— MICHAEL CHIUMENTO
The development, known as “Cascades at Grand Landings,” would sit on 683 acres, of which 347 are developable, county Growth Management Director Adam Mengel told commissioners at the meeting.
“We’re asking that the PUD be validated, or reinstated,” said attorney Michael Chiumento, representing the applicant. “... All we’re asking for today is just guidance from you all as to whether the PUD is still valid, and we can continue on under those entitlements and this general concept plan.”
He added that the develoer is having the property’s wetlands surveyed. “They intend, if this is valid, to try to move this to fruition in the next 24 months,” Chiumento said.
Initial proposals for what the community would look like had been created before the great recession, and the county government, in March of 2007, had approved a preliminary plat for an initial phase with 123 lots, Mengel said.
But then the recession hit, and the developer began having financial problems.
The County Commission in late 2007 tabled a second, 293-lot phase of the development.
The developer went bankrupt and the land was turned over to Bank of America in 2009, and a St. Johns River Water Management District permit for the development expired in 2013.
That presented a problem, because the initial PUD agreement required that certain design and construction steps occur within eight years of the granting of the PUD — raising the question of whether or not the PUD approval remained valid.
“You’re just determining here, whether or not this is a continuing development,” Mengel told commissioners.
Now a new developer wants to take up the proposed development.
If the commission were to find that the PUD was no longer active, the developer would have to begin the entire approval process over again.
Such a finding would also complicate the status of environmentally sensitive lands that the developer had conveyed to the county as part of the PUD agreement.
The county’s Planning and Land Development Board had recommended that the commission find that the PUD is still in effect, in part for that reason, Mengel said.
“All of these other obligations, especially the conveyance of the [environmentally sensitive] lands, had come to the county, and now to unravel that would be would be — maybe not impossible, but would be onerous for us,” Mengel told commissioners.
Commissioner Andy Dance noted that things have changed in eight years — for example, the commission, at a recent discussion about the community of Eagle Lakes, had pressed the developer to stagger air conditioning units and other potential instructions within a 5-foot side setback area to ease access for emergency responders.
“If this goes through, I would hope that those same types of preventative measures could be written in,” Dance said.
“We can voluntarily do that,” Chiumento said.
County commissioners voted 5-0 to find that the PUD is still in effect.