Palm Coast Council Shoots Down Building Pause; Instead Moves to Implement Additional Changes to Technical Manual

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January 16th, 2024 – The City of Palm Coast held their morning business meeting at 9am. The meeting kicked off with a presentation about the changes that staff has proposed for the technical manual regarding the flooding issues in Palm Coast. The presentation listed the changes that included, a maximum of 22 inches above the crown of the road, a maximum of 10 inches between homes, changing the slope of the front of the property and dropping the swale, requiring the building engineer to certify that the property will handle it’s own stormwater and not convey it to neighboring lots, as well as other changes.

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During the conversation on the dais, Danko stated that these changes are heading in the right direction and he doesn’t believe there should be a pause on building. Danko made a motion to form an Ad Hoc Citizens Committee that would work to help find solutions for those who have been affected by this issue, as well as future issues. Pontieri seconded this motion. Heighter questioned the 22 inch maximum and whether it would resolve the issue. Carl Cody, Director of Stormwater and Engineering, stated that so far no homes they have visited have been above the 22 inch elevation, but this is a way to regulate. Klufas stated his support for an additional inspection and the requirement for the engineer to certify the stormwater conveyance. Danko’s motion to form a citizen committee passed unanimously.  Pontieri asked if the number could be any lower while still staying in line with Florida Building Codes, her question centered around adding the proper language to give the code more teeth, so that staff can ensure and enforce a height lower than 22 inches.

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Pontieri continued on by stating that according to her understanding, we have drainage codes that are not being enforced, and she does not feel that the proposed changes will solve the problem completely. Pontieri stated, “I did not want to declare war on the building and developing community,” she continued by stating that she has been elected by the residents and that is who she is needing to protect. She highlighted that in the last year, there were 9 Florida cities that implemented a temporary pause on building in order to updates codes and regulations for growth, drainage, water capacity, and infrastructure. These cities included New Smyrna, Deltona, Iverness, and six other cities all held temporary pauses from 90 days, some up to a year. Pontieri still stated that she is motioning for a 90 day pause while the City looks to it’s neighbors, and continues research to ensure the flooding issues are solved before moving forward. Klufas countered that the moratoriums were not for infill lots but were for other issues. Klufas asked if legal counsel had input as to whether the pause is legal. Pontieri stated that if it made council more comfortable, she is fine with a 45 day pause, that can be extended one time.

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Carl Cody informed staff that the points Pontieri brought up, regarding gutters and silt fences, would not effect stormwater conveyance. Pontieri amended her motion to 45 days with one 45 day extension. Danko stated he felt that the council move forward with Alfin’s suggestion to just move forward with requiring the gutters, silt fencing and the certification as he doesn’t feel anyone will sue them. No one would second it. Danko followed by making a motion, for staff to require gutters, require silt fencing on all new infill lots, and requiring an additional inspection to certify stormwater drainage while looking to neighboring communities for additional solutions. This would not guarantee that these changes would happen immediately, some may have to be procedurally brought before council at a later date.  Public comment was opened up on the motion, and many residents stood up in line to share their opinions on the lack of support for Pontieri’s building pause. Members of the Homebuilders Association were also present and spoke on their stance for the opposition of the pause that Pontieri suggested. Residents and builders both stood at the podium to address council. Many residents spoke of their difficulties they are facing with this flooding on their properties, while builders spoke of their history of work in the area, and their dedication to making and keeping Palm Coast beautiful.

During the second conversation at the dais, Pontieri discussed how she disagreed with Danko’s motion, when she was interrupted by Danko, causing public outcries. Danko then informed deputies to remove mayoral candidate Peter Johnson for interrupting proceedings.  Heighter stated that she agreed with Pontieri on most of her points, and she urged everyone to remember that they are all citizens of this city. The council ultimately voted on Danko’s motion which passed 4-1, with Pontieri voting no.

 

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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