Council to consider requiring referendum for future franchise fee proposals

Also in City Watch: The council also voted to annex a 330-acre future residential development on Seminole Woods.

Palm Coast City Councilman Ed Danko. File photo by Sierra Williams
Palm Coast City Councilman Ed Danko. File photo by Sierra Williams
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For the third time, the Palm Coast City Council has rejected a proposal to add a city government fee to locals' Florida Power & Light bills.

Any future consideration of such a fee, known as a franchise fee, may  require a referendum vote.

The council killed the proposed FPL fee agreement because FPL wouldn't agree to the city's terms. 

The City Council wanted the rate to be set by voters in a referendum during every general election. The money would pay for road maintenance.

Council member Theresa Carli Pontieri, who had made a motion on July 18 to approve the franchise fee agreement, made the referendum clause a condition of her motion. 

But FPL rejected that proposal, City Attorney Neysa Borkert said at the City Council's Aug. 1 meeting, and Pontieri withdrew her motion entirely.

"I think it's important to understand that we were considering this for repaving our roads," Pontieri said. "We've endeavored to find other things in the budget ... to go into our streets improvement plan."

Vice Mayor Ed Danko suggested requiring that any future franchise fee agreement be subject to a referendum vote.

To me, it’s pretty obvious ... that the folks in Palm Coast want to find another way to save money.
ED DANKO, Palm Coast Vice Mayor

“It’s been three times that [folks] have packed City Hall and spoken out against franchise fees,” Danko said. “So, to me, it’s pretty obvious ... that the folks in Palm Coast want to find another way to save money.”

Borkert said it might be "virtually impossible" to bind future councils to a motion like that. 

For example, she said, the city already has franchise fees that require annual renewal. 

Danko decided to limit his motion to a franchise fee agreement with an electrical provider, but Borkert said that such a motion must be memorialized in a resolution or an ordinance.

The council unanimously agreed to instruct city staff to create a  potential ordinance or resolution. 

Mayor David Alfin said it must be well-defined.

"Just to make sure the pieces are in place," he said. "So we're not 'smoke-and-mirroring' the process."

Council OKs annexation for Cascades development

Palm Coast will annex a 330-acre future development called the Cascades, off Seminole Boulevard. 

The City Council approved the annexation 5-0 at a meeting on Aug. 1.

The development is located 3 miles south of State Road 100, on the north side of Seminole Boulevard near its intersection with U.S. 1. 

The developer — Byrndog PCP, LLC —  petitioned the city government to annex the property.

The land is in Palm Coast's utility service area, and the city requires that properties in the service area be annexed into the city before the city provides utility services. 

Senior Planner Phong Nguyen said the annexation meets all statute requirements.

The 330-acres of land being voluntarily annexed to Palm Coast. Image from City Council meeting documents

The annexation does not cost the city anything, Deputy Chief Development Officer Ray Tyner said. 

The developer will pay for utility lines and internal roadways, and the city will receive tax revenue from the development, Tyner said.

“We make money,” Alfin said, “but it’s not costing, because the applicant is paying for [the development of the land].”

During the meeting's public comment period, Palm Coast resident Celia Pugliese noted the land's proximity to the Flagler County Executive Airport. 

The flight schools at the airport are already a noise nuisance for nearby residents, she said.

“We never had a problem before,” she said. “The problem is the flight schools for Palm Coast residents.”

She worried that adding another development would exacerbate the noise problem. 

Alfin asked City Manager Denise Bevan to update the council on any recent changes to the airport's operations.

The annexation petition requires a second vote at the next council meeting before it's finalized. 

Once the city approves the annexation, the Cascades must submit the following applications: a Future Land Use Map amendment, a zoning amendment, a subdivision master plan or site plan and a plat plan.

The city's Planning and Land Development Regulation Board and the City Council must review each application.


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