Hoping for a compromise, the Palm Coast City Council has conditionally approved an application for the Harborside Inn and Marina development on first reading.
“The problem in my view is that we don’t have any certainties by the applicant at this point. We have a lot of likely’s, we have a lot of mays.” — Theresa Carli Pontieri, City Council member
After five hours of presentations and public comment, the council voted 5-0 for approval on Jan. 17, but asked city staff and the applicant to try to come to an agreement on density issues in the request.
The problem is that city staff and the applicant — JDI Palm Coast, LLC — have had months to come to an agreement.
The developmer wants to rezone the site from a planned unit development designation to a master planned development designation.
Council member Theresa Carli Pontieri and other council members had reservations about the proposed development’s density and the public opposition from residents.
“The problem, in my view, is that we don’t have any certainties by the applicant at this point,” Pontieri said. “We have a lot of likely’s, we have a lot of mays.”
The planned unit development has been sitting for 17 years, half-finished, at the intersection of Palm Harbor Parkway and Clubhouse Drive.
JDI wants to add 360 additional multifamily units to the property, for a total of 432.
There are plans for a restaurant and hotel, but only if the applicant finds them — particularly, the hotel — financially feasible. If it isn’t, the developer would convert the hotel into a condominium.
JDI and city staff have gone back and forth for months trying to come to an agreement on density.
Sitting on 17.64 mixed-use acres, the development’s proposed density of 25.5 units per acre is more than double that of surrounding areas.
“We all agree on one thing: we want something there." — Ed Danko, Vice Mayor
City staff did propose a counteroffer: 18.3 units per acre, if the development agrees to meet certain public benefit standards, including maintaining a “clean marina” designation from the Department of Environmental Protection.
The applicant did not budge.
Tarik Bateh, a partner with JDI Palm Coast, said JDI is not sure it would be able to make its money back on fewer units.
Pontieri suggested delaying a vote on the item until staff and the applicant come to an agreement, but Bateh refused that option, since they’d been working on it for almost a year.
“We will certainly continue dialogue with staff,” Bateh said. “We don’t see the value in a continuance, given what has occurred today.”
Since the rezoning application is an ordinance, it requires two CityCouncil readings and approvals.
Approval on the first reading does not mean the council is bound to approve the proposal on the second reading.
Normally the density issue is cut and dry; the mixed-use density of a property that size is 15 units per acre, which would be a total 254 units, according to Senior Planner Bill Hoover. But the planned unit development’s original 2005 approval had allowed for higher density, citing a part of the city’s code which allows exceptions to the density cap if a project is “creative” and meets certain requirements. The terms are subjective, and the policy does not cap the allowed deviation.
No one in the room said they opposed the development — not even the many residents speaking out against it in public comment.
Vice Mayor Ed Danko said he understood the applicant’s need to make a profit.
“We all agree on one thing: we want something there,” he said. “I sure don’t want to see this big fish get away from us.”
Pontieri said she thinks there is more wiggle room.
“I think we today are faced with a false ultimatum that it is either this way or no way,” she said.
The application will be on the City Council’s Feb. 7 meeting for a final hearing and decision.