It really was just about a parking lot. BOCC vote was 5 to 0 for advancement. The Planning & Development Board had voted 0 to 7 against, but the disparity was not what it seems.
Palm Coast, FL – March 17, 2015 – The Flagler Board of County Commissioners last night in a packed session voted unanimously 5 to 0 to advance Sea Ray’s application for a Comprehensive Plan amendment that will enable the company to build a much-needed employee parking lot south of the present location.
The BOCC saw through the fog of environmental blather thrown up by a few nearby residents and Flagler Beach City Council members who wanted to make the issue about something more, something sinister. But it was really just about a parking lot.
But the COCC vote was unanimously FOR while the P&D Board voted unanimously AGAINST. But the brouhaha was not about the wisdom of allowing a parking lot; it was about the land use change procedural options. When the issue came before the P&D Board, county staff and Sea Ray representatives presented a somewhat incoherent methodology with insufficient backup materials. The P&D Board did not object to the targeted parking lot, but to the inadequate case presented to them by staff and the applicant.
The Sea Ray debate and the Salamander Lodge/hotel debate that preceded it showed a side of citizen participation in the process not seen locally in the past. In each case, the opposition got out in front of the debate, framing it to suit their agenda. That has happened in the past, but the larger community response, both from individuals and from organizations, led by the Chamber of Commerce is unprecedented and welcomed.
Not only did the debates (Sea Ray and Salamander) make for great theater, but also for a sounder conclusion. It required the PRO and CON sides to do their homework. It also engaged many more residents in the process. Last evening’s meeting saw several Sea Ray employees speaking, not scripted speeches, but from the heart, even though it was clear that some were outside their comfort zone speaking in the council chambers and on television. Our representative form of government worked as it should.
So, what happens next? Last night’s vote initiates a process. Staff now has 10 working days to transmit the amendment package. The Comprehensive Plan amendment process is guided by Florida Statutes, with timeframes and procedural requirements for each part of the process.
3. Comments to the local government from a regional planning council, county, or municipality shall be limited as follows:
a. The regional planning council review and comments shall be limited to adverse effects on regional resources or facilities identified in the strategic regional policy plan and extra-jurisdictional impacts that would be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan of any affected local government within the region. A regional planning council may not review and comment on a proposed comprehensive plan amendment prepared by such council unless the plan amendment has been changed by the local government subsequent to the preparation of the plan amendment by the regional planning council.
b. County comments shall be in the context of the relationship and effect of the proposed plan amendments on the county plan.
c. Municipal comments shall be in the context of the relationship and effect of the proposed plan amendments on the municipal plan.
d. Military installation comments shall be provided in accordance with s. 163.3175.
4. Comments to the local government from state agencies shall be limited to the following subjects as they relate to important state resources and facilities that will be adversely impacted by the amendment if adopted:
a. The Department of Environmental Protection shall limit its comments to the subjects of air and water pollution; wetlands and other surface waters of the state; federal and state-owned lands and interest in lands, including state parks, greenways and trails, and conservation easements; solid waste; water and wastewater treatment; and the Everglades ecosystem restoration.
b. The Department of State shall limit its comments to the subjects of historic and archaeological resources.
c. The Department of Transportation shall limit its comments to issues within the agency’s jurisdiction as it relates to transportation resources and facilities of state importance.
d. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall limit its comments to subjects relating to fish and wildlife habitat and listed species and their habitat.
e. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall limit its comments to the subjects of agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture issues.
f. The Department of Education shall limit its comments to the subject of public school facilities.
g. The appropriate water management district shall limit its comments to flood protection and floodplain management, wetlands and other surface waters, and regional water supply.
h. The state land planning agency shall limit its comments to important state resources and facilities outside the jurisdiction of other commenting state agencies and may include comments on countervailing planning policies and objectives served by the plan amendment that should be balanced against potential adverse impacts to important state resources and facilities.
While several parties have the opportunity to make comments, either in favor of or against the Comprehensive Plan amendment, the scope of their comments is strictly limited. This process will take time, perhaps a few months, but the outcome is not likely to change.