Palm Coast City Council Shoots Down Proposed Stormwater Management Ordinance

City Manager Jim Landon introduced the ordinance to Council members suggesting that ”it would not make everybody happy.” Little did he realize that he was referring to himself.

Palm Coast, FL – October 7, 2010 – Palm Coast City Council shot down a new Stormwater Management Ordinance at Tuesday evening’s meeting. It failed for lack of a motion when four of five City Council members indicated that they could not support the measure. The city spent nearly two years working on the new ordinance because it was apparent that the existing ordinance would likely not survive a legal challenge. Now they are stuck without a replacement for the defective ordinance. When City Manager Jim Landon introduced the ordinance to Council members for its first reading, he suggested that ”it would not make everybody happy.” Little did he realize that he was referring to himself.
Landon’s proposed ordinance was grounded on the premise that all land within the stormwater system derived some benefit from it; even vacant undeveloped land. When quizzed by Councilman Frank Meeker about the legal basis of the proposed ordinance, City Attorney William Reischmann replied, "The Florida Supreme Court has never said this type of regulation can’t include vacant land." What he should have said was, "While the Florida Supreme Court has upheld stormwater ordinances and fees, it has not said that vacant land can be included." Reischmann’s response was incomplete, disingenuous, and misleading. It was clear that his intent was to convince council members to approve Landon’s plan.
Tuesday’s result leaves the city between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, the potential legal challenges of the existing ordinance remain. The problems surfaced when owners of undeveloped land challenged a provision that begins charging fees on undeveloped land as soon as owners begin a permitting effort for development, even though not a shovel full of dirt has been turned.
Once the pot was stirred, another problem popped up. Some communities have their own stormwater system. The entire portion of Grand Haven situated east of Colbert Lane does not "touch" the city’s system. Grand Haven’s extensive system discharges directly into the Intracoastal Waterway. Yet Grand Haven residents have been (and continue to be) charged $8/month by the city while at the same time paying their own Community Development District (CDD) to maintain its system. The city did not pay for or install Grand Haven’s system and takes no part in its ongoing maintenance.
The city recognizes that it can no longer charge Grand Haven residents though it’s now uncertain what corrective action will be taken. Grand Haven should also be reimbursed for fees collected since the city was put on notice two years ago.

Landon’s dilemma

It is clear the city needs to find additional revenue to offset fees it will lose under a viable replacement ordinance. Should they go after the few owners of large tracts of vacant land? That was Landon’s first choice. The City Council, the lack of legal precedence, the fairness doctrine, and logic tell us that it’s a dead-end strategy; guaranteed to spawn expensive lawsuits with dubious chances of a successful outcome for the city. Or should they simply increase the existing fees assessed to those owners already acknowledged to benefit from the system? Of course that would mean that homeowner/voters would have to pony up more. Did I hear $10/month? As Landon said, "it’s not going to make everybody happy."

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4 replies
  1. George Meegan
    George Meegan says:

    Yet they keep spending

    They paid way over appraisal for a parcel on Bull Dog Drive and are paying for Palm Harbor Golf Club so the operator can take the profits.And now Enterpize Flagler wants to put a tax on the books for Public Relations, to attract business, and pay the big salaries of the behind closed door deals. Landon has backed himself into a corner, as he is doing as directed by the boys running the city from the back room. Good for them, they woke up, and realized he’s just a pupit.

  2. George Edward Chuddy
    George Edward Chuddy says:

    Reynolds, Smith and Hill Designers P.C.

    Maybe Reynolds, Smith and Hill, of Jacksonville should be consulted since it is they who *designed* Palm Coast, making all the calculations for the Inducements to Purchase, that is, the advertised density of ‘…2.7 per acre…less than that of Beverly Hills…’ and also the Design to withstand a 100 year flood for Palm Coast; as contained within the publication ‘…An Approach to a New City: Palm Coast by Dr. J. Norman Young and Dr. Stanley Dea. Most probably the advertised and promoted ‘…15,000 acres of ‘Green Enclaves’…’ for Palm Coast most probably was calculated into the Water Drainage and water absorption rates. We know that Palm Coasts’ required ‘Architectural Committee’, per the C&R’s, always stood firm on House Size and driveway/pavement/impervious items, size, this way, allowing for water to be absorbed per house/lot whose calculations helped meet the ‘100 year Flood’ requirement for Palm Coast. Prospective Buyers made their LOT selections based on these Inducement to Purchase.
    Maybe consulting with Reynolds, Smith and Hill would be helpful in ascertaining a solution.
    …and what about us? Drainage was a pledged Improvement for us so we did not have to pay from 1972 until 2005; no reply from Utility about our being ‘Grandfathered’ ..
    RE: GolF Course, Mr. Meegan, we Palm Coast Pioneers and early purchasers paid for it in 1971 by the HIGH if not almost obscene Palm Coast Golf Course Lot location prices at that time. The ‘Standard’ lots, generic if you will, were substantially lower in price than Golf Course and Canal Locations.
    In any eveent, perhaps Reynolds , Smith and Hill may give a *solution* for this situation.
    Maybe Someone can pass this suggestion on to those in Authority over this.

  3. George Edward Chuddy
    George Edward Chuddy says:

    Palm Coast massive acreage of Blue Lands

    If anyone is working on this pls. don’t forget the State of Florida’s Department of Community Affairs ‘Agreement’ for Palm Coast. This is in relation to all the massive acreage for ‘Proposed School Sites’ / ‘Proposed Parks’ etc., These are known as Palm Coasts’ Blue Lands.
    We share this to avoid it all having to be re-calculated yet again and again.
    Lucky u$ huh…when another school is needed we already have the land ready and waiting.

  4. Marie Jones
    Marie Jones says:

    ARC Board

    if you haven’t already noticed, the very first order of business for Mr. Landon was to do away with the ARC board…so that he and his boys could operate behind closed doors and remove the public from his secret dealings!

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