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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Matanzas Woods Residents Upset With Sawgrass Villas Proposal

Over 200 attended the Public Meeting for Sawgrass Villas
On Monday night, over 200 Matanzas Woods residents attended the Public Meeting presented by Putnam Bank for the proposed Sawgrass Villas project in the neighborhood.  The project plans are for a proposed 50 unit townhome-style community in between a portion of Lee Dr. and Leidel Drive.  The community would be surrounded by existing single family residential homes.  The residents unamimously expressed disapproval for the proposed project since the housing style is vastly different from the surrounding homes and many fear that it will further impact already reduced property values.  

What became truly apparent during the meeting is the confusion over zoning of the area between the City of Palm Coast and what is displayed as public record on the County's Property Appraiser websites leaving residents unaware of which is correct.  According to County records, the area was originally platted by ITT as about 34 individual housing lots on a street to be known as 'Leighton Ln'.  Putnam Bank shows as the owner of record for each of those lots.  Around 2005, as it was explained by Putnam Bank,the City designated the zoning for the entire parcel as 'Multi-Family' which is what is displayed on the City's zoning map.  City areas designated as "Multi-Family (MFR-1)" at the City level do not allow for single family residences to be built on land designated as such.  Interestingly enough after scanning through the City map, Matanzas Woods seems to be the only neighborhood where a Multi-Family parcel is actually zoned in an area surrounded by single family residence zoned lots.  It would be the assumption that this is to be in accordance with the City's Comprhensive Plan (Objective 3.3.4) which aims to "Protect predominantly residential areas from the intrusion of incompatible or more intensive land uses." (i.e. 50 new homes versus planned 34 for an area).

The history of the proposed project began a few years ago.  Originally the bank backed Tideway Developers with the existing plan.  Tideway suffered financial losses during the housing market crash and the bank acquired the land and proposed plans in the loan default.  At this point the bank is attempting to acquire a buyer for the land and community plans as a package.  By assuring all of the proper procedures and approvals are in place, the offering is obviously more attractive to a would-be purchaser.  The bank would not disclose an asking price or if a developer is in-line when asked by residents.  

This is not the first time Matanzas Woods has been faced with this issue either.  A few years ago, a multi-story condominium complex slated for a parcel directly behind residential homes on Londonderry Drive made it's way through the Planning Board and to the City Council for approval.  After a handfull of residents took action and pleaded the issue with the Council over the obvious negative impacts, the Council denied the project to proceed further.  Mayor Netts at that time was blunt in pointing out the "incompatibility" issue with the developer of that project.  That parcel is currently owned by JBN Real Estate, Inc. of Lake Mary according to the Property Appraiser website.  

Residents of the Matanzas Woods community have done an excellent job of raising awareness to this current proposal as evident of the attendance last evening.  Pink "Stop Saw Grass" flyers are displayed in windows throughout the neighborhood, a website (, and a Facebook page have been put in place to help keep neighbors informed and continue to raise awareness.  The community has scheduled a residents-only meeting to be held at the Library on August 15th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm to consolidate and coordinate efforts in opposition to this proposed project.

Matanzas Woods was originally a golf course community surrounding the once gorgeous and popular Matanzas Woods Golf Course.  The course was acquired by Landmar a few years ago along with the Pine Course and and Cypress Course to be included in what is known as the Grand Club.  After financial setbacks, the company abandoned the promised renovations and the course has since been closed and fallen into major disrepair.  The future of the course is uncertain at this time.  

For further information regarding Sawgrass Villas, please visit

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