By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Parking problems along Flagler Avenue led the Planning and Zoning Board's concerns at its Feb. 4 meeting.
"The issue of parking availability in the area of Flagler Avenue has been an issue for some time. As Flagler Avenue becomes more vibrant and economically successful, the issue of parking becomes more pressing," according to a Sept. 11 report by the Flagler Avenue/Beachside Parking Inventory and Initiative.
"The parking issue on Flagler is kind of tied to this board ... as far as zoning is concerned," said City Planner Travous Dever, a non-voting member of the Parking Systems Task Force, which is tasked with solving parking issues in the city and along Flagler Avenue in particular.
The task force is expected to give a recommendation on resolving the parking problem along Flagler Avenue to the City Commission by April, Mr. Dever said. "We need to figure out what direction we want Flagler to go. There are going to be requests and suggestions on how to address parking in that area."
Planning Manager Gail Henrikson suggested the issue be brought up at the next City Commission meeting on Feb 21. "The commission may be moving on this as early as this summer," Ms. Henrikson said.
According to Mr. Dever, there are several options the task force is researching to deal with the problem. Among them is a controversial parking garage, creating one-way streets to alleviate traffic flow and issuing parking passes to residents of the area. Other options also are being considered, Mr. Dever said, but didn't elaborate further.
Ms. Henrikson pointed out that even though paving a parking lot wasn't required for that area, developers would still have to put in a storm drainage system and level the land, which would be a substantial cost. "Currently there is nothing in the budget specifically for that," she said.
Dever suggested a joint meeting between the P&Z Board and the Task Force to discuss the issue and review options. Ms. Henrikson said she would try to set one up for March. The next Parking Task Force meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Brannon Center, 105 S. Riverside Drive, and Mr. Dever urged board members to attend.
In other business, the board approved an amendment to the Colony Park project with two stipulations; that outstanding items discussed in previous meetings be addressed and the 50 percent open space requirement be added back into the amendment. "Somehow that was inadvertently omitted in one of the previous drafts," Ms. Henrikson said.
Colony Park LLC is spearheading the development of about 40 acres just east of Home Depot and plans include Mullinax Ford, and several other businesses and restaurants. Mullinax Ford has been granted a clearing permit and applied for building permits. Clearing of land could begin within the next two weeks.
In private meetings between the city, and Colony Park LLC, a deal was hashed out resolving the language of the development agreement that was tailor made for this specific project, according to Ms. Henrikson. The dispute was largely over the wording concerning about 12 acres purchased by Volusia County and several proposed changes to minor details mostly involving architectural requirements. The developer agreed to the stipulations and the county was satisfied with the new wording concerning the 12 acres 'donated' by the developer for tree preservation. Glenn Storch, attorney for the owner, said, "bottom line is this solves the problem with the county and for the city."
The project has met with public opposition since it was proposed according to past recorded P&Z board meeting minutes. Dozens of people in the community have attended meetings and voiced their objections, but there were none raised by the public at this meeting.
With the approval of the amendment, the P&Z board will make its recommendation to the City Commission, which will have readings of the proposal on Feb. 26 and March 12. Meanwhile, the developer can go ahead with clearing the land. Construction will not begin until the amendment is approved by the City Commission and final building permits are issued. However the developer is hoping to have Mullinax Ford in its new building by October, Ms. Henrikson said.