As Showdown Looms Over Salamander’s Hammock Beach Hotel, County Asks For Delay

F | JANUARY 9, 2015

The old lodge at Hammock Beach Resort, which Salamander Hotels wants to replace with a 198-room hotel. (Google)

It was all coming down to a public hearing before the Flagler County Commission: after losing a string of votes before civic and advisory boards, including the county’s planning board last month, the backers of a proposed 198-room hotel development were to make their case to the final arbiter in the case Monday evening.

But the county administration’s planning staff is asking for a delay until February, which the county commission is likely to grant. The administration announced the matter in a news release late Friday afternoon. The administration is giving two reasons: the planning staff received yet another site plan late Friday from Salamander, giving the staff little to no time to review it. It is the latest in a series of changes Salamander is proposing as it hunts for consensus on what has so far been a fractious issue that has divided the Hammock.

And one of the county commissioners–Charlie Ericksen–has been dealing with a health matter that will keep him from attending Monday’s meeting.

“We want to make sure on such an important decision as this we want the full board,” Commission Chairman Frank Meeker said.

“There is not enough time for the staff to properly review the plan and make a recommendation to the commission,” Deputy County Administrator Sally Sherman, who is also the director of growth management, said. A copy of Salamander’s application and new site plan is available here.

It’s not clear whether the new site plan would require the matter to again go before the planning board, though Meeker said the plan may merely be updating new proposals Salamander has already presented verbally to the planning board.

Those new proposals, presented for the first time at the Dec. 9 meeting of the planning board, including pushing the entire proposed twin edifices 15 feet back from the present footprint of the lodge, and scrubbing entirely a proposed parking lot south of 16th Street, which–because it was going to level about 2 acres of trees and scrub, had been the focus of a lot of opposition.

The A1A Scenic Pride advisory group and the Hammock Conservation Coalition have also voted to oppose the plan. Meanwhile, business groups led by the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce have mounted a pro-Salamander campaign based on the anticipated jobs and economic activity the proposal would generate. Proponents include GoToby’s Toby Tobin, who wrote an extensive defense of the project earlier this week, and Tim Hale, the Coastal Cloud owner, who authored a Facebook page for the plan. Monday’s meeting was expected to be the culmination of months of haggling, debate, lobbying and expectations. Instead, the commission will almost certainly delay the matter at least to February.

“We appreciate the understanding of everyone who is engaged in this process”, County Administrator Craig Coffey said in today’s news release.

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