Stakeholders received only five day’s notice of this overreaching draft ordinance. Any ordinance that starts out with more than ten ‘Whereas’ paragraphs is a stretch. This sucker has 68 of them.
Palm Coast, FL – October 28, 2014 – In an unexpected move, Flagler County scheduled a Special Meeting of its Planning & Development Board to convene at 6:00 P.M., October 29th. The sole purpose of the meeting is to consider a staff-recommended draft ordinance to govern short-term vacation rentals in the county. That ordinance is deeply flawed.
Two questions came to mind immediately.
First, why the rush?
I understand that the P&D Board’s role is to review the ordinance and recommend to the Board of County Commissioners; either recommending for or against BOCC approval. The final decision rests with the BOCC. The P&D Board has a regularly scheduled meeting on November 12th, only a few weeks away. The regularly scheduled November 12th meeting is after Election Day. The special meeting is not? Coincidence?
Second, why the secrecy?
Five years ago, the developer at Hammock Beach attempted to gain approval for significant additional density for the area surrounding the existing resort. The developer was represented by Front Door. Salamander was not yet in the picture. Frond Door did almost everything wrong.
- Their application was a huge overreach.
- They developed their plans in secrecy, apparently keeping details on a “need to know” basis.
- They did not involve stakeholders in the planning phase.
Contrast this approach to the open, inclusive and collaborative approach used recently when Salamander brought forth revised plans to replace the present Hammock Beach Club lodge building. Whether you are for or against Salamander’s proposed project, you must agree that their strategy was more effective than that employed by Front Door five years ago.
I have no dog in this hunt. I have talked to and understand the concerns of both sides. This is a solution that should achieve a fair balance between the needs of the community with those of individual property owners. I find it striking that the county chose to follow the Front Door strategy.
Those on the “needs of the community” side have a right to their concerns, as do the private property owners. After all, neither side created the problem. The problem was created legislatively. The proposed ordinance properly addresses some real issues, but on the whole, seems outrageously one sided; so one sided that it is certain to attract litigation.
The goal of this ordinance should be to codify a balance between competing but legal interests. That goal cannot be accomplished in the dark. It demands openness and the collaboration of stakeholders on both sides of the issue.