NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Atlantic Housing Partners, developers of Causeway Landings, a 239-unit, multi-family residential project proposed for the North Causeway, haven't said what its next step will be after the city's Planning and Zoning Board did not approve a parking variance or amendment to an existing agreement for the property.
Once again hundreds of protestors dressed in red turned out at the Jan. 7 meeting of the city's Planning Board to protest the changes. It was similar to a Sept. 5 meeting when hundreds protested the project, asking the city to build according to a 2005 development agreement, which had fewer units, 202 compared to the 239 now being sought.
Attorney Edward Beazley spoke for the protestors, who have incorporated as New Smyrna Beach Citizens for Smart Growth LLC.
The city's Planning Manager Gail Henrickson told the board the variance application was to reduce the parking from 626 parking spaces to 450 spaces, a reduction of 176 spaces.
She said the 14-acre property, on the north side of the North Causeway, actually needs 589.5 parking spaces for the residential and commercial units planned.
She also said the staff recommended denial of the parking variance, because the request does not meet any of the criteria. That drew loud applause from the audience.
Rebecca Wilson, with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, the Orlando law firm representing Atlantic Housing, said the amendment to the development agreement asked to remove the marina, decrease the building from six to four stories, and increase the residential units from 202 to 239.
She also said there would be adequate parking for the type of units that would be there and the developers would dedicate a waterfront walking trail to the city.
Scott Culp, a principal in Atlantic Partners, said they have built more than 100 affordable rental communities since 1985. He also said the rents are not subsidized, but the units are built with tax credits.
A motion to approve the parking variance was unanimously denied by the Planning Board and the developers have 15 days according to city code to appeal the decision.
Ms. Henrickson said her staff also is recommending denial of the amendment to the existing development agreement as drafted.
She also listed 12 conditions that should be considered if the city continues negotiations on the project.
Staff recommended denial because the proposed amendment to the development agreement does not comply with certain portions of the Comprehensive Plan, the city's Land Development Regulations and the North Causeway Area Study.
The Planning Board unanimously voted in favor of denial of the amendment to the City Commission.
Board member Robert A. Wohn III abstained from voting on both items because his law firm represents some of the surrounding residents.