Despite local complaints, city council votes 4 to 1 to allow new self-storage facility

Residents who spoke to Palm Coast City Council at a Jan. 18 meeting did not want a proposed new self-storage facility near their home in the Hidden Lakes community.

“We can’t break the laws, and if we’re going to deny that, we’re going to have to justify why we denied it.”

— EDDIE BRANQUINHO, City Councilor

But they’ll likely get one: A rezoning for the proposed 95,500-square-foot storage facility won council approval in a 4-to-1 vote, with council members saying they had no no legal basis to refuse the developer’s proposal. Councilman Victor Barbosa was the only dissenting vote.

“Based on my votes in the past, I’m not liked by developers,” Councilman Eddie Branquinho said. But, he added, “We can’t break the laws, and if we’re going to deny that, we’re going to have to justify why we denied it.”

The storage facility will include 287 covered boat or recreational vehicle locations, as well as buildings with a combined 95,500 square feet of self-storage space, at 3830 Old Kings Road S., on the northwest corner of the intersection of Old Kings Road and Town Center Boulevard. .

The 23-acre parcel of land sits just south of the Gold Choice Assisted Living facility, with which it would share an entrance road.

The owner had asked the city to rezone it from the general city office zoning designation to the general commercial zoning designation.

Residents who opposed the change said they didn’t want the traffic or noise they felt would come with the storage facility.

“We’re very concerned about what’s going on; we don’t think you should change the zoning,” said Hidden Lakes resident Mary Alice Brandt. “It doesn’t belong where they’re trying to put it, in front of a nice development.”

Arena Lake Drive resident Paul Weber said if a storage facility is placed on the parcel, it should be reduced and parking for boats and RVs eliminated.

He said he had seen examples of storage facilities that blended into an upscale area and hoped that the storage facility, if added, would be built to be attractive.

As City Council prepared to discuss rezoning, City Attorney Bill Reischmann cautioned the Councilman.

“You’re not here as elected officials on this matter as much as you are as judges, and judges have to follow the law,” Reischmann said.

In this case, he said, the law in question is the city’s land use planning code.

“If you deny the request today, you must state in today’s record the grounds you find in the record that do not comply with the law,” he said.

Councilman Ed Danko asked city staff what types of uses would be permitted under the current general office zoning designation.

Assistant Development Manager Ray Tyner listed a few, including pharmacies, veterinary practices, hotels, art dealers, florists, specialty food stores, sports, bookstores and music stores, bonding places, technical trade schools.

Branquinho suggested the proposed storage facility would be less disruptive to the neighborhood than the retail stores that could be built there under existing zoning.

The 23 acres of land could easily hold 46 stores, he said, which would draw far more traffic than the storage facility.

Councilman Nick Klufas noted that the city’s planning board voted 6-0 in favor of the self-storage facility.

“We have to make a decision today based on our land use code,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything today that goes against a single point of the land use code.”

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