August 15 City Council Meeting Recap Includes Citizen Concerns, Development Discussions, and More

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During the first hour of the meeting, Resident Robert McDonald expressed concerns about not being able to ask questions at the previous workshop meeting, while the council members were allowed to ask questions. Robert stated that he believes residents should have the right to ask questions and receive answers at public meetings. He also mentioned a previous question about the completion of a bridge, which still hasn’t been resolved. He urged for a change in policy to allow residents to ask questions during meetings.

Another community member expressed their concerns about feeling like a second-class citizen. The Council clarified that public comment is allowed during workshops, although not during specific agenda items. The Council explained that workshops are meant for Council members to learn about agenda items and ask questions, with the purpose of being well-informed before the items come up for a vote in regular Council meetings. The Council also agreed to discuss the possibility of allowing public comment after agenda items during workshops in the future. Another community member followed, demanding a forensic audit to be considered in order to bring transparency to the government. They highlighted the suspicion surrounding various decisions and demanded transparency. Another speaker addressed the issue of speeding on Ryan Drive, emphasizing the dangerous conditions and the need for speed bumps. A community member raised concerns about the potential traffic congestion caused by upcoming developments, suggesting that Seminole Woods Boulevard should be expanded to four lanes to accommodate the increased traffic.

Next, Robert Meyer from Grand Landings spoke regarding stormwater costs. He questioned why their HOA was paying over $20,000 a year when residents were already paying around $100,000. He stated that he was grateful for the help he received from Andrea Mudrick and Carmelo Morales in understanding the issue. Meyer expressed concerns about the high costs considering that their community already had lakes, ponds, and dry ponds to manage water. He mentioned that he would continue investigating the matter and may return in the future. Another resident named Dennis McDonald addressed the council, discussing election issues and expressing the need for attention to zoning around the airport and water protection in the area.

Another resident expressed concerns over the maintenance and protection of the city’s wells, emphasizing the need for sufficient water supply in the future. Another speaker raised questions about a nuisance abatement fee they received, highlighting discrepancies in the cost and requesting to be taken off the list. Additionally, a resident voiced support for a forensic audit of the city’s activities, particularly real estate development, to address concerns of conflicting promises and lack of transparency. The resident mentioned dissenting opinions, arguing that an audit is unnecessary if there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Another community member raised concerns about fire prevention and property tax increases. They suggested that a forensic audit should be conducted to assess the efficiency and transparency of the city government. The city manager agreed that a forensic audit should be pursued and recommends bringing in external experts to provide insights and cost estimates. The vice mayor emphasized the importance of building trust with the public and keeping their pledge. Another council member raised the question of defining the scope of the audit and suggested involving the public in formulating the necessary questions. However, the original commitment was to gain an understanding of forensic audits rather than directly involving the public at this stage.

Next, there was a discussion about the need to define the scope of a forensic audit before asking for a price. The council members expressed different opinions, with some arguing that everything and anything should be looked into, while others pointed out the importance of having a clear scope. There was a suggestion to invite an expert to explain what is required for a forensic audit, which would help everyone understand what information needed to be provided to a firm. Overall, there is a focus on gathering the necessary information and understanding the process before moving forward with the audit. Council members discussed the need for a forensic audit but clarified that they do not suspect any criminal activity or purposeful misappropriation. They emphasized the importance of planning and scoping the audit, as it will be paid for by taxpayer dollars. The council agreed to bring in an expert or accounting firm to provide clarity on the definition and scope of a forensic audit, as well as potential costs. They also mentioned the possibility of holding a workshop to enhance their understanding of the process. The city manager was instructed to include this topic on the next possible agenda, and the law enforcement liaison addressed concerns about speeding and encouraged residents to report incidents to the sheriff’s office.

A resident raised concern about speeding and noise issues in the city. The council members acknowledged the complaint and mentioned that they have requested the Sheriff’s Office to become more visible in addressing these issues. They assured the resident that their complaint will be followed up on and that they appreciated the information. The public comment portion concluded, and the council moved on to approving the minutes of previous meetings.

Following that, they proceeded to the proclamation section, where Councilperson Hyder presented a proclamation for International Overdose Awareness Day. She expressed her personal connection to addiction issues and the importance of supporting those who suffer from addiction in the community. The proclamation recognized the Flagler County Drug Court Foundation for their work in promoting recovery from substance abuse.

The council proclaimed August 31st, 2023 as International Overdose Awareness Day in Palm Coast, Florida. They emphasized the importance of reducing stigma around substance abuse and highlighted initiatives such as Narcan training and awareness programs to effectively respond to opioid overdoses. The council stated that they aimed to create a compassionate and supportive community where individuals in the drug court program have the necessary resources for lasting recovery. They invited all citizens to join their walk over the bridge on International Overdose Awareness Day to remember those who have lost the battle with addiction and to end the stigma of addiction. The council acknowledges the high overdose rates in Palm Coast and expresses gratitude for the support from the council. Representatives from the Flagler County Drug Court Foundation and the Narcan presentation expressed their appreciation and discussed the possibility of presenting the proclamation at a future Drug Court graduation to reinforce the program.

A speaker discussed the severity of the fentanyl crisis in the community and urged everyone to join a memorial event to bring attention to the issue. They emphasized that fentanyl not only affects those struggling with substance abuse, but also innocent people who unknowingly come into contact with it. The speaker expressed gratitude to the sheriff’s department for their efforts in removing fentanyl from the streets and emphasized the need for community support in combating this problem.

The meeting then moved on to discuss an ordinance regarding the voluntary annexation of a property in Palm Coast, Florida. No additional information was provided, and the meeting opened for public comments on the matter. A resident raised concerns about the inclusion of 44 acres in the Grand Landings area, which they believed would affect the overall development plan. The council clarified that the annexed parcel, known as the hook piece, is not part of the Grand Landings master plan but will require a separate flume Amendment and rezoning application. Another attendee mentioned the issue of airport noise and the lack of attention from the County Commission. They suggested the city should establish a group to address airport-related concerns and protect future residents from potential complaints. The council confirmed that they have communication with the county and are aware of ongoing plans. The council emphasized that the current annexation discussion is separate from zoning and encouraged the public to understand the difference. Additionally, a council member suggested conducting a noise study for the airport to address residents’ concerns.

During the second hour of the council meeting, the council discussed various agenda items related to zoning, development projects, and community benefits. They address issues such as proximity to the airport, rezoning of commercial land for residential development, the need for affordable housing, and the proposed Belle Terre Estates master plan development. The council reviewed the plans in detail, discussing potential future rezoning, and considered the public benefits of the projects, including the donation of land for a public dog park. The planning staff provided expertise and recommendations while addressing concerns raised by council members and the public. Overall, the council stated they are seeking to balance commercial and residential development, ensure compatibility with existing neighborhoods, and provide diverse housing options to fulfill the needs of the community.

The council discussed an agenda item related to the proximity of the airport and the responsibility of the city. They mention that they have a good relationship with county partners and have scheduled a presentation from airport representatives. The motion to approve the agenda item passed unanimously. The discussion then moved on to an ordinance regarding rezoning application number 5302 for the Belle Terre Estates master plan development. The 40-acre site is planned for a mixed-use project that includes townhomes, a commercial tract, and a public dog park. The site had been vacant for 15 years, and the new owner intends to create a walkable environment. The ordinance was read into the record, and the senior planner gave a detailed presentation on the proposed development.

The speaker provided an overview of the zoning and development plans in Flagler County. They discussed the existing zoning map, which shows areas designated for conservation, low-density residential, and commercial use. They also mention neighboring developments, such as a master plan development, a residential community called Flagler Village, and an assisted living facility. The speaker then focused on a specific project, highlighting its compatibility with the surrounding area and its well-designed site plan, which includes ponds, wetlands, and a water treatment plant. They also mention the donation of land for a public dog park and provided a conceptual plan for the overall project, including townhomes and a clubhouse.

The discussion included details of a proposed development project for townhomes. The units are either 19 or 22 feet wide and range from 1497 to 1980 square feet in area. The Land Development code stipulates that townhomes with 1500 square feet or more require a two-car garage, while smaller units have a one-car garage. The driveways are required to accommodate parking for two additional vehicles. The landscaping for the townhomes will include a landscaped area in front, averaging about 25% of the total area. The developer has offered to provide a public park as the public benefit of the project, which will be accessible to all residents of the city of Palm Coast. Concurrency requirements, such as school, fire, police, and other public services, will need to be met during the development process.

There was also discussion about the need for a detailed test during the site plan stage, as concerns from the public arose regarding water availability and other factors. It was confirmed that the city’s regular program includes addressing these concerns. There is also staff agreement that the trade of park space for smaller home sizes is valid. The conversation then shifted to rezoning land from commercial to residential and the amount of commercial land left in the area. The staff states that there are approximately 20 acres of commercial land to serve the neighborhood and that the applicant could request rezoning for further conversion. Concerns were raised about the conversion of a mixed-use property to residential and the public benefit of this conversion. The staff believes that there is still plenty of potential for commercial development in the area, despite the rezoning. The conversation concluded with a discussion about the development timeline of other residential properties and whether it is premature to convert commercial land to residential given the expected increase in rooftops in the area.

Next, the discussion revolved around the development of a master plan for a 40-acre site. The public expressed that they are not interested in having a commercial project in this area, especially one that includes big box stores. The planner suggested that a 20-acre neighborhood commercial development would be more fitting. The concern was raised about the traffic count and whether it meets the requirements for larger commercial considerations. The idea of having a neighborhood village center with small businesses to support the local community was supported. However, there was also concern about the potential future conversion of more potential commercial space into residential areas. The planning staff assured that each application would be analyzed based on the comprehensive plan, ensuring a balance of commercial and residential development in the future.

Councilwoman Hyder raised concerns about the lack of workforce housing in the city, despite the approval of new construction and developments. She suggested that some of the new construction projects should be allocated for workforce housing, as there is a need for affordable housing in the community. The planning staff agreed with the need for affordability and mentioned a project that offers smaller units with lower prices. The discussion also touched on the concern for senior citizens struggling with housing and the need to provide affordable options for them as well. The conversation ended with clarification on the zoning of a specific area for commercial purposes.

Next, the council members inquired about the possibility of rezoning adjacent properties in the future and how it may affect the current proposal. They were informed that each land use request is assessed based on the existing criteria in the code, and unless there are specific restrictions in place, potential rezoning of adjacent properties cannot be considered as a factor in the review. The staff provided detailed findings on the criteria established in the Land Development code, stating that the rezoning request does not conflict with the public interest, is consistent with the comprehensive plan and code, does not impose hardships or create hazards, and complies with all applicable government standards. They also discussed the compatibility of the proposed development with neighboring properties, highlighting its buffering and the benefits it brings to the public.

The council also discussed a proposed development project called Belle Terre Estates. The project involves rezoning a 40-acre area from commercial to a mixed-use development. The Planning Board has already reviewed the project and recommended its approval, subject to two conditions. The first condition, regarding guest parking, has been addressed by the applicant who has provided additional parking spaces. The second condition, regarding the public dog park, will be reviewed by city staff. The staff recommended deleting the first condition. The applicant, represented by Christina Evans, Joseph Posey, and Mark Goldschmidt, presented a detailed PowerPoint presentation outlining the project and explains that after buying the property, they reached out to Publix but did not receive any interest.

Next, a proposal for a mixed-use master plan community at a major intersection was discussed. The plan aims to add diversity to the area by blending residential housing with non-residential uses such as commercial spaces and public recreation areas. The development includes a two-acre commercial parcel, a 1.2-acre public dog park, and 275 townhome units with private amenities. The townhomes are designed to appeal to retirees who want low-maintenance living and young professionals with busy schedules. The community entrance will be gated, and there will be separate entrances for the dog park and the commercial parcel. The dog park will have gated sections for large and small dogs, along with various dog equipment and seating for owners. The townhomes are designed to have unique elements and varied facades to avoid a monotonous look. Some units will have one-car garages, while others will have two-car garages. The different designs and options aim to provide variety and accommodate different needs and preferences.

The Belle Terre Estates master plan development, which offers different housing options, including one with a first-floor bedroom for retirees and residents with disabilities. The development is described as low-maintenance and upscale, yet affordable, with pricing in the 200 thousands. The planning board unanimously approved the project, with additional guest parking provided. The attorney for the landowner, who has experience in similar projects, assured the council that the developer knows what he’s doing and has successfully worked on other projects in Florida. The attorney emphasized that the developer values being a good neighbor and is open to feedback. The discussion also touches on the absence of a Publix store in the development, with the attorney explaining that Publix has specific criteria, such as traffic count, that must be met for them to consider opening a store in a location.

The speaker explained that the property in question has been considered for commercial development, but due to low traffic counts and the proximity to Highway 100, commercial players were not interested. The only viable option is to create a neighborhood commercial area that complements the surrounding neighborhood. The speaker also discussed the dedication of a public park, stating that it must be completed before the project reaches a certain threshold and that the developers will be responsible for the expenses and maintenance of the park. The exact timing and details of the maintenance agreement are not yet finalized.

The council discussed the credits for the equipment of the park, the need for lighting and security cameras, and the possibility of upgrading the dog drinking fountains. They also addressed the public benefit of the project, specifically the donation of land for the public park and the deviation from the Land Development Code. The planning staff mentioned that the dog park and the provision of alternative housing types can be considered as public benefits. Overall, they are working on finalizing the details and ensuring that the park meets their standards.

During the third hour of the meeting, a council member raised concerns about deviating from the city’s code in terms of the number of units in a development. They proposed allowing a certain percentage of townhomes to deviate from the code to provide alternative housing options. The council member also questioned the affordability and upscale nature of the project and raised concerns about meeting the needs of residents while staying within the city’s housing goals. The developer expressed a willingness to accommodate the concerns and discusses the complexities and nuances of rezoning and negotiating agreements. Overall, the council members appreciated the design and concept of the project.

The council addressed concerns about when the area will be pad-ready and expressed the goal of making it as easy as possible for commercial users to establish their businesses. They also discussed potential amendments to the code to clarify the timing issue and ensure the infrastructure is in place. Additionally, there was a discussion about the need for diversity in housing and the possibility of including workforce units. The council members appreciated the efforts made toward affordability and express support for housing options for First Responders. The developer emphasized the importance of providing starter homes for those looking to move into the community and assured that affordability is a priority. Overall, council members appreciated the design and concept of the project.

Next, Nicole Durenberger expressed her concern about the lack of daycare centers, playgrounds, and job opportunities for families in Palm Coast. She suggested that the city should focus on recruiting more companies and investing in youth to create a thriving community. Another participant, Dennis McDonald, raised issues about parking in the proposed development and suggested implementing parking restrictions. He also questioned the decision to convert commercial space into a gas station instead of maintaining a diverse mix of businesses.Members of the public expressed their opinions on development and affordable housing. One individual criticized the concept of affordable housing, calling it a “stupid term” and urging city employees to become whistleblowers if they witness any wrongdoing in the city government. Another council member agreed with the sentiment, stating that when they use the term “workforce housing,” they are referring to housing for people who work in the community and need an affordable place to live, not subsidized housing. The council then moved on to other agenda items, including the approval of a development project.The city council discussed an amendment to the master plan development agreement for the Marina Village in Palm Coast. The amendment pertains to the portion of the development located east of Colbert Lane and north of Roberts Road. It includes a reduction in commercial growth floor area, an increase in residential units, and revised development standards. The council also provided historical background on the development, including previous amendments and the development of the Lighthouse Harbor Apartments.Next, council members talked about the proposed development on the land east of Colbert Lane. The developer intends to create a high-density mixed-use community centered around the marina basin. The developer wants to increase the number of residential units from 423 to 845 while reducing the commercial space by 57,500 square feet. The height of the multifamily buildings will be reduced from 60 feet to 35 feet, but the developer wants to increase the height of townhomes from 35 feet to 45 feet. They also want to reduce the minimum lot size and width for townhomes. Additionally, the developer wants to replace garages with architecturally designed carports for 30% of the multifamily units. The council reviewed the track map of the master plan development, highlighting the commercial areas and potential locations for a boat stack house, hotel, and yacht club.

They also talked about commercial uses and facilities in the proposed marina development project. The speaker explained that track eight is designated for commercial uses, including wet slips and gas pumps for fueling boats. The speaker also mentioned that track six will have a boat storage facility similar to the neighboring one. There was some discussion about the need for specific mention of gas services in the project materials, with one council member suggesting it should be a requirement. The speaker highlighted the overall master plan for the development, which includes a yacht club, potential hotel, multi-family buildings, and various commercial and residential areas.

Next, the council discussed a proposed project that includes a mixture of commercial and multi-family or townhomes. The project, which is a sister community to another nearby development, has already been approved and is currently being developed. The staff findings indicate that the project will not create any nuisances or compatibility issues, and measures have been taken to reduce the building height to make it more compatible with neighboring properties. The council also highlighted the public benefits of the project, such as job opportunities during construction and the long-term economic stimulus provided by the public marina. During a public participation meeting, concerns were raised by residents from the neighboring community about the impact of the project on their homes, but overall, they acknowledged that the project was already approved and were mainly concerned about the increase in residential units and decrease in commercial space.

Next, the council discussed a development project that is coming back for a second hearing. The staff will review preliminary plots and construction drawings, and the applicant will construct the subdivision infrastructure. Any multi-family units that are not townhomes will require technical site plans, and if they exceed a certain number of units, they will go to the planning board or the city council for approval. The planning board previously reviewed the project and found it compliant with the comprehensive plan. However, there was a condition related to cement Kiln dust remediation that the applicant had to address. After additional documentation was provided, the staff now recommends removing this condition. The planning and Land Development regulation board recommend approval of the project, and the applicant is required to answer any questions. The project aims to create an urban mixed-use center with residential and commercial components, with the commercial area being reduced to around 100,000 square feet.

The council then discussed the proposed changes to the commercial uses in the marina neighborhood village. The applicant argued that these changes are necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the commercial establishments and to align with the concept of a marina community. The council also reviewed the track map and notes that the project has been scaled down in height to 60 feet. The development aims to create an urban marina feel and will include a yacht club and retail component. The first phase of the project involves constructing the marina basin and partnering with marina operators. The council raised concerns about permits, specifically regarding the sale of fuel at the marina. The applicant explained that they have the permits for the basin and marina but have not yet applied for a fuel tank permit. Additionally, the council emphasized the importance of building the marina with resiliency in mind, ensuring it can withstand storm surges. The applicant assured that the marina will be designed as a “hurricane hole” and the sea walls will provide sufficient protection from tides.

Next, the council members discussed the specifications and maintenance responsibilities of the new marina development. The council was informed that the marina will be title-controlled and that an association or the commercial owner will be responsible for maintaining dredging if necessary. The council members were shown a visual representation of the marina’s layout, which includes dry storage, a marina village center, condos or hotels, and open green spaces for public use.

They expressed their support for the project and its potential to attract tourism. One council member requested clarification on test results for kiln dust, and another member emphasized the importance of communicating the high-quality vision of the project to the public. However, concerns were raised about the maximum number of units per acre and the need for a hotel and restaurant. The council also discussed ways to ensure the preservation of the green space within the development. Some council members expressed concerns that this green space may be replaced with residential or commercial buildings, potentially losing the nature of the area shown in the renderings. They emphasized the need for more assurances from the applicant to preserve the desired components of the development, such as a full-service marina and a guaranteed fuel depot. Additionally, there was a debate about the construction of a hotel, with some council members questioning who would build it and whether there is a business model to support it. Despite these concerns, there is recognition of the importance of a hotel in diversifying revenue and attracting visitors to the area. Public comment also raised concerns about the reduction of commercial space in favor of residential development.

During the fourth hour of the meeting, council members discussed the location of a manufacturing facility, specifically the Sea Ray site. One council member expressed the importance of preserving the facility and the jobs it provides for the county. They argued against creating any potential issues that could lead to the closure of the facility and the loss of jobs. Another council member raised concerns about potential environmental hazards, such as silica dust, and urged caution in construction. They also questioned certain aspects of the developer’s proposed plans, specifically regarding model homes and a rental program. The discussion highlighted the need to consider the larger picture and prioritize both economic growth and environmental safety.

The speaker discussed the coordination and communication with Sea Ray and Whaler, both owned by Brunswick, over the past 15 years to maintain buffers between residential uses and their facilities. There was also mention of Sea Ray’s gas availability and the rental program, which has been in place for years as a precautionary measure. The city council expressed support for the project, with some concerns regarding the number of residential units and specifications. They also highlight the potential positive economic impact on the surrounding area, including Flagler Beach. The meeting concluded with a motion to approve the project.

Next, council members discussed a resolution concerning the Old Kings Road North widening project. The project has been underway for many years and is currently in the construction phase. They are seeking approval for a contract with DRMP Inc. to update and provide post-design services. Future actions will involve an agreement with FDOT for construction funds and the approval of a construction contract. One council member expressed concerns about the potential for speeding on the widened road and asked if there will be any discussion about implementing traffic calming measures.

Council members then discussed the funding and upcoming construction of a drag strip project in town. They mentioned that intersection analysis will be done to determine if any major intersections require traffic signals, emphasizing the importance of safety. The presence of the Sheriff’s Office substation nearby is seen as a deterrent to speeding. Council members congratulated the staff for securing the funding and highlighted the lengthy process of making a project like this a priority. They moved on to approving a resolution for the Belle Terre Safety Improvement project, which includes design updates and intersection improvements along Belle Terre Parkway. The project is funded by impact fees and seen as another great improvement to the existing roadway system.

The council discussed improvements to various intersections in Palm Coast. The improvements included adding right turn lanes, modifying signal heads and turning movements, extending left turn lanes, and making drainage and sidewalk improvements. The project aims to enhance traffic flow and improve safety. The city manager emphasized the council’s prioritization of safety and the challenges of securing funding for such projects. The project has a negotiated scope and fee of $351,929, funded by impact fees. Overall, the improvements address the increasing congestion and navigation difficulties on Palm Coast’s roads.

Discussion regarding the strategy to improve traffic flow and relieve congestion, with a focus on safety was next. Council members mentioned that the funds being used for these improvements are impact fees and not taxpayer dollars. They expressed their gratitude to the staff for coming up with a plan to utilize the impact fees to improve road safety. During the public comments, a resident raised concerns about road construction causing inconvenience during peak traffic hours. The city manager assured the resident that they will work on minimizing traffic disruptions and develop a traffic plan to address this issue. The council members expressed their support for minimizing the impact on residents during the construction project. They also discussed the potential of working overnight to complete paving projects on major highways, as it may result in better-quality work without a significant increase in costs.

Approving lighting and other items during daytime work instead of nighttime work due to better quality of work was also discussed. A motion was made to approve, and the motion passed. The City Council then discussed whether to take a brief break for lunch or power through the rest of the agenda, and they decided to recess until quarter of the hour.

After the recess, Chief Sustainability and Resiliency Officer Maeven Rogers discussed a potential funding opportunity for the city of Palm Coast. The funding, allocated through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, aims to prevent energy outages, increase employee safety, and mitigate flood impacts. The State of Florida is set to receive $800 million under this program, with funds divided among counties based on the severity of Hurricane Ian’s aftermath. Eligible projects include elevations, land acquisitions, flood risk reduction, infrastructure retrofitting, and wildfire mitigation. The funding split requires the city to match 25 percent of project costs, while FEMA covers 75 percent. These projects are already outlined in the city’s five-year Capital Plan, and any cost share on the city’s part would be considered cost savings within the scope of the grant opportunity.

Discussion regarding the Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) and the projects that have been approved for potential funding opportunities was next. These projects include stormwater conveyance, pet panel replacements, emergency backup pumps, and well-filled generator sites. The total amount requested for these projects is roughly 5.9 million, with the city contributing around 1.4 million. The representative highlighted the importance of these projects in improving safety and efficiency, especially during extreme weather events. The next steps involve submitting grant applications and awaiting a grant announcement, with funding expected to be allocated within three years. The City Council was asked to approve a resolution allowing the city manager to pursue funding for these projects.

In the fifth hour of the meeting, the council discussed the Colbert Lane project and its impact on mitigating flooding in the Graham Swamp area. The project, which involves the installation of culverts, will benefit both the Grand Haven and Woodlands communities. The council expressed gratitude to Kevin Guthrie, the director of the agency of Florida Division of Emergency Management, for providing generators that will be used in conjunction with the project. They also mentioned the need to thank Guthrie with a letter. The council then moved on to discuss the London Waterway Expansion Project, which has been in progress for four years. The project aims to improve conveyance, water quality, and capacity to accommodate current and future growth in the area. Overall, the council commended the efforts of the project team and approved the contracts and work orders related to the project.

A speaker discussed a proposed project in the city of Palm Coast that aims to improve flood protection, stormwater treatment, and the environment in the area surrounding the London Waterway. The project includes creating a pond and utilizing the excavated material for a future maintenance operations center, which will result in significant cost savings. The speaker emphasized that they have had public community meetings and provided updates on the project’s progress to engage citizens. They also mentioned the bidding process for the project, noting that after two unsuccessful attempts, they received two bids, with the lowest bid being $8.236 million. However, there was confusion as to why the bids were significantly higher than the engineering cost estimates, possibly due to increased labor and material costs. The speaker acknowledged the need to ensure they are not being exploited and expressed concern about the significant difference between the estimates and the bids received.

Next, council members expressed concerns regarding the cost of the project and the use of funds. They questioned the discrepancies in bids and the engineer’s estimate, suggesting that the engineering firm’s location and the limited availability of local contractors may have impacted the costs. The council members also discussed the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and the potential consequences of not going under contract by the specified deadline. They expressed frustration over what they perceive as price gouging and emphasize the need for transparency and scrutiny when approving contracts. Overall, there were doubts about the fairness and efficiency of the project, considering the contractor’s current delays on another project.

04:25:00 In this section, the discussion revolves around change orders and the process of approving them in council meetings. The speaker mentions that change orders are usually reviewed by a third-party construction engineering inspection firm, ensuring that the proposed costs are in line with the original bid. They also mention that sometimes contractors may propose exorbitant amounts for change orders, and in such cases, the council may choose to postpone the work or find alternative solutions. The speaker then discusses the time frame for bringing change orders to council meetings for approval, acknowledging that it could take weeks depending on various factors. The idea of having a middle ground, similar to sole source purchasing, is suggested, where certain threshold amounts would require council approval. This would provide oversight while still allowing the city manager to handle the process. The goal is to maintain transparency and ensure that contractors stay on track without depleting the contingency fund. The idea receives positive feedback from other council members, who believe it achieves the desired objective.

The council discussed the importance of updating the public on the progress of the Capital Improvement program. However, there were concerns that too much information could potentially derail the project, especially in the area of the city that experiences flooding. They came to a consensus that the city manager should be informed of any requests for over $50,000 that dip into the contingency fund and that the council should be updated on these requests. The council expressed appreciation for the city manager’s work and emphasized the need for transparency and communication in order to avoid delays and smoothly move forward with future projects.

Next, several resolutions were discussed and approved. The first resolution concerned the Community Development Block Grant Program for the fiscal year 2023. There were no changes to the apportionment of the grant. The second resolution was about nuisance abatement and confirmed the initial assessment resolution. The list has been updated, and those who have paid will be transmitted to the tax collector. There were no changes since the last meeting. The third resolution approved a contract with Lassiter Transportation Group to complete a transportation impact fee study and update the impact fee schedule. The contract is in the amount of $152,357.10.

Then, the council discussed the need to update the transportation impact fee schedule as part of the comprehensive plan. The city manager is authorized to execute the agreement for the update, which will also align with the transportation element of the comprehensive plan. The update was seen as timely, as it coincides with the council’s focus on housing affordability, recognizing that transportation is essential for accessible housing. The presentation outlined the objectives and tasks involved in the update, including selecting Lassiter Transportation Group for the study. The purpose of the study is to assess the impact of development on public facilities and services, with the collected fees used to fund capacity improvements. The update is required every five years to ensure a legally defensible fee schedule and compliance with Florida Statutes.

In the last hour of the meeting, the council discussed a study on railways and roads for future improvements. The council plans to look at existing collector roads but will not include subdivision collector roads in the study. The timeline for the study is estimated to be at least a year. The council approved a resolution for the Old Kings Road special assessment role and discussed a Firehouse Subs Public Safety Grant for the Palm Coast Fire Department. The grant will be used to replace a Merv unit at community events. The resolutions passed unanimously.

Next, the council discussed the purchase of a new Polaris unit for off-road response along the trail system. The unit is more versatile and will be used in places where fire engines cannot go. The funding for the unit is 100% provided by The Firehouse Subs foundation. Lieutenant Patrick Juliano was recognized for his work in securing the grant and his overall contributions to the department. The council approved the purchase of the unit and expressed their gratitude to Lieutenant Juliano and Chief Berryhill. The consent agenda was also discussed, with a particular mention of the sheriff’s contract and the high quality of the Sheriff’s Office. Public participation was invited, but no one came forward to comment.A resident raised a question about the role of the city attorney. The mayor clarified that the city attorney is hired by and works for the city council, providing legal support to all the city departments. The attorney does not represent the citizens individually, but rather represents the city as a whole. The meeting then moved on to final comments from council members, including updates on a youth safety forum and a discussion about a noise study for the airport. One council member also proposed moving funds from the general fund to the streets improvement plan.

Next, a council member brought up concerns from their constituents regarding overflowing garbage and high grass in certain areas of the city. They also mention the difficulty of contacting City Hall and suggest exploring alternative methods of communication. The Public Works director explains that this time of year is the peak growing season, leading to a faster grass growth rate. He also mentions staff shortages and reduced overtime, which may impact the city’s ability to address these concerns promptly. The council member suggested improving public notification and customer service options for residents. The City Manager provided an update on a major road closure that will be happening soon.

The mayor began by expressing support for the field staff and their proactive measures to ensure safety, particularly in identifying a failing culvert that could cause damage to Pine Lakes Parkway. As a result, the parkway will be shut down for a week starting on August 21st. The mayor emphasized the seriousness of the closure and the city’s efforts to minimize disruption through communication with affected residents. Lastly, the mayor celebrated the promotion of Miss Kaylee Cook to City Clerk, acknowledging her hard work and dedication. Miss Cook expressed gratitude to the staff for their support, and the mayor added that her promotion is the result of extensive training and commitment.

By Kim Hunt

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