Palm Coast Council Discusses Signage, Imagine 2050 and Public Hearing Requirements at Morning Workshop

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Tuesday March 12th, 2024 – Palm Coast City Council held their morning workshop meeting at 9am, in the community wing of City Hall. The workshop focused on three key agenda items; an update on the 2050 comprehensive plan, an ordinance amending the unified land code – zoning uses, dimensional standards and signs – signs and advertising – and the glossary, and a presentation on the hearing notification requirements for the city.

Palm Coast City Council

As with all meetings, the first part of the workshop was public comment. Many commenters stood up to state their opinions on a myriad of subjects including the flooding, new home builds, revisions to the codes for signs and house colors, and traffic. Kandi Stevens talked about multiple issues including that inspection reports on new homes are being changed. She also questioned the progress of the Citizens Advisory Board.

The presentation on the City of Palm Coast Comprehensive Plan for 2050 covered the agenda of the Imagine 2050 campaign. Phase one is data collection with surveys, interactive town halls, and other information gathering activities. Alfin commented that there are six other municipalities in Northeast Florida that are in the process of updating their comprehensive plans. Alfin continued on stating that, “I would say they are nowhere near as robust as we are doing.”  The presentation continued, covering what they have so far and a preliminary draft.

The purpose of the comprehensive plan is essentially creating a roadmap destination for the community, outlining the public investment and private development. This plan will provide the planning for zoning and other important community developments over the years. Currently the third party company is in the evaluation phase, with preliminary review happening between June and October, with October being the final stage, where the final draft is adopted.  There have been many activities and surveys where they were able to compile data on where the community wants to see the city be in 2050. Two of the things that most Palm Coast residents stated they loved most about Palm Coast in these interactive data gathering activities, were the natural assets like green spaces, trails, and natural vegetation. The other is the quality of life, the small town feel, the engaged community, and reasonable cost of living.

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Some of the concerns that were noted by Palm Coast residents during the input gather phase was overdevelopment, the timing of the development, not the right kind of developments. Other concerns mentioned were quality of life changing, including community safety, traffic congestion, lack of public transportation, lack of business diversity, lack of an arts and culture scene. Palm Coast residents wanted to see more control on the development pace, amount and diversity. Residents also had mentioned, housing affordability, increased safety, building up town center, improving water quality, increasing tree canopy, as well as infrastructure such as roads, water, and public transit.

The presentation continued on, explaining each of the points listed by residents, and outlining the ways they will be adding these concerns into the Comprehensive plan draft. During this outline section of the presentation, what the City currently has in place was also outlined and taken into consideration. The stormwater system was one of many systems that was touched on in regards to needing improvement.

Council member Klufas commented on the presentation stating that his number one strategic plans for this year is the Arts Scene. He spoke to how he wishes to see the arts and culture scene eventually break away from the Parks and Recreation Department and have their own funding source. He also questioned if the 12% of parks in Palm Coast is above or below other municipalities of a similar size. He was told it is not a bad percentage, but moving forward council would need to look and adjust how they acquire lands. Council member Heighter commented that, “it has been very well orchestrated.” She questioned if there were plans to include those with physically and mental disabilities and restrictions. Council member Pontieri commented that not only should this information be used for the comprehensive plan, but it should impact every decision now and moving forward, as well as what appropriations the City asks for from Tallahassee.  Council member Danko issued his thanks to everyone involved, and echoed that council had covered everything.

Also during the meeting Palm Coast City Council heard a presentation on an amendment to the Unified Land Development Code regarding zoning uses, dimensional standards, signs and advertising, and the glossary. The code is being amended to keep in line with the law, as well as being more business and community friendly. The types of signs permitted and not permitted will remain the same. Both the Planning Board and the Beautification and Environmental Board recommend in unanimous decisions to make the changes allowing an additional sign, but still prohibiting signage in the right of way. If temporary signs are allowed in the right of way, the City would not be legally allowed to decide what signs can and cannot be placed there. Danko made a suggestion that because the City is in the process of replacing their law firm, he suggested tabling the motion to allow the new law firm to research the subject themselves. Pontieri stated that in this case, the case law is pretty clear and she doesn’t see the need to, “kick the can down the road.” Heighter echoed her agreement that she doesn’t see a need to table this, Klufas and Alfin both stated they didn’t see a need for delaying this conversation.  Council gave consensus to bring the ordinance to vote at the next business meeting.

Palm Coast City Council also heard a presentation on their public hearing requirements. Current requirements for public hearing notification requirements are guided by Florida Statute Sec 166.041 and the Palm Coast Unified Land Development Code chapter 2 sections 2.05.02 and 2.05.03.  According to staff, the city currently meets all of the requirements listed in both the Florida Statutes and the Palm Coast Unified Land Development Code. Pontieri stated her concerns about “abutting property” meant; staff explained they go beyond the normal definitive scope. Pontieri explained that she was on board with expanding the limit to 500 feet, instead of 300 feet. Heighter echoed her agreement. Klufas also echoed his agreement with expanding the notice requirement from 300 feet to 500 feet. Council gave consensus to staff to move forward with drafting a change on the requirement limit from 300 feet to 500 feet.

 

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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