Palm Coast residents have been fighting a battle with unprecedented flooding due to the lack of regulations on the height of new construction in existing neighborhoods. Many residents have spoken out via social media, as well as in city meetings to state their frustrations regarding this issue.
Homes that previously had no issues with flooding are now being flooded, washed out, and many state their yards are now unusable. One resident in the R-Section sent in photos showing how much higher the new lot behind him is. “It has killed my strawberry plants, not just a couple but say 100 or so” he continued, “I have added 18 yards of fill and raised it 5 inches or so, but I am still 6 inches from the line, and every rain just washes it away more and more.” The builder of this particular home was Holiday Builder Inc.
City Council has stated that they plan to have this resolved as quickly as possible, and instructed the City Manager to create a task force to handle this issue. Beyond that, no one is truly aware of how the situation is being handled. Councilperson Pontieri stated in a city meeting that, “These cases are being handled on an individual basis, so please bear with us.”
Another home that is in the limelight for height issues, is 98 Birchwood Drive. This home is currently being built by Estela Living LLC. This is the home that has brought attention to the city wide problem. The home is noticeable higher than the existing homes, and residents feel that the slop of the lot will now cause issues for their homes.
Residents have spoken out about how these homes are their dream homes, their biggest investment, and many have stated they do not feel the council is protecting them and their investments against these developers.
Another resident, Dj and Dara Knotts, have spoken out on social media, in city meetings and even on multiple news stations, due to the issues this new build next to them is causing. “We have lived in our home five years and never once flooded, during the last three hurricanes we never once saw flooding on our property. Now with this new build next to us at 15 Praver Ln, whenever it rains or pours, our property floods, badly,” they explained. “We just want our backyard back.” This is the plea that many residents have regarding the flood issues that some of these new homes are causing. National Homes Corporation is the builder of the lot next to the Knotts house.
We reached out to City Council for more details on the matter. We asked them about the lack of an ordinance requiring an easement between lots; what consequences the builders would face for actions like these; and what they plan to do about the homes that have been built higher and are completed.
Cathy Heighter responded, “Thank you for reaching out with your concerns. Staff and Council are looking into alternatives to address this matter and hope to have this issue resolved in a timely manner.”
Council Person Pontieri issued her statement to us, “I don’t yet have the answers to your below questions. I am staying in touch with staff daily in order to stay apprised of their efforts and plan of action.
I know the city is actively reviewing the technical manual, and one critical aspect under consideration is the establishment of a maximum finished floor elevation for new construction. The technical manual is routinely reviewed to ensure we have the highest standards and regulations in place for the community’s best interest. Additionally, the Palm Coast City Council has tasked the City Manager to work with staff to address all concerns that residents raise regarding this topic, including a maximum elevation for foundations of new builds.
It is crucial to note that every new home currently under construction adheres to strict regulations regarding drainage plans. These plans are meticulously designed and implemented on the property to mitigate any potential adverse effects on surrounding areas, including the risk of flooding.
The safety of our residents remains a top priority for the city, and we appreciate the vigilance and engagement of the community in bringing these concerns to our attention. Rest assured that we are actively working towards making any needed modifications to our process and requirements, and like I said, I’m in touch daily with both staff and residents regarding any changes, developments, and updates.”
Councilperson Danko, Klufas, and Mayor Alfin did not respond to our inquiries. We will be continuing to update this story as we receive information from residents, council members, and city staff on the matter.