Flagler County is considering a new zoning designation that would give the county commission wide latitude to approve the incentives, densities and heights of developments with the goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing. The changes would not impact the Palm Coast or the other towns in Flagler.
“Every county across the country is screaming the same thing: that they need more affordable housing for the workforce,” said county commissioner Joe Mullins, who also sits on the county’s affordable housing advisory committee. . “We want to send the message that we are open for business.”
The new designation, introduced at the commission’s workshop on May 17, would be called “planned affordable development”. Staff documentation pointed out that this would be a similar concept to the current “planned unit development”, which can also be “negotiated and adapted” with mixed uses.
“It’s a PUD on steroids,” said Commissioner Andy Dance. “This allows for more creative design solutions. … I am all for it. Let’s look at some new ideas someone may have.
Homes are selling so quickly and demand is still so high that housing costs are skyrocketing. Material prices and inflation also make the market unaffordable for many residents, staff reported.
Commissioners noted that the PAD designation is “very vague” and “open”.
“It lets us vote on just about everything, not just on incentives, but also on size,” said Commissioner Greg Hansen. Still, he said that kind of latitude “is the right way to go.”
Hansen, along with Rick Belhumeur, a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee for eight years, seemed to expect more from a staff presentation.
“I wonder why we were invited here,” Belhumeur said.
Two restrictions on the PAD designation were questioned during the meeting. First, the county is proposing that PADs only be allowed if they are within five miles of stores and jobs. And second, PADs would not be allowed to use septic tanks.
Lisa Smith, treasurer of the Flagler County Association of Realtors and president of the Flagler Housing Partnership, said few lots would meet these requirements. FCAR Executive Director Dorothy Sperber agreed, and Cameron said staff would consider the two points for future discussion.
“It’s a long-term project,” Cameron said.