Article Courtesy of Daytona
By Matt Bruce
Published March 1, 2020
PALM COAST — Nearly 300 homes are being proposed for an abandoned Palm Coast
golf course but residents in the surrounding neighborhood say those plans would
bring unwelcome development in their own backyards.
Palm Coast city
officials weighed in on the project this week, making
several revisions that would scale developers’ plans back
Now it will be up to developers to decide whether to
resubmit new plans or plow ahead undeterred.
Matanzas GC Palm Coast is a local limited liability firm
poised to build a housing and retail development on the
grounds of the long-defunct Matanzas Woods golf course.
Michael Chiumento III, a Palm Coast attorney representing
the company, submitted conceptual plans to city officials on
Hammock developer Alexander Ustilovsky, Matanzas GC Palm
Coast’s CEO, owns the sprawling 277.4-acre golf course
property, which includes 10 different parcels interwoven
into northern portions of the city’s L-section between U.S.
1 and Belle Terre Parkway.
According to preliminary plans, Ustilovsky envisioned a
mixture of residential and commercial development anchored
by nearly 300 single- and multi-family homes. Many of the
single-family homes were clustered along the Lakeview Drive
corridor, according to the developer’s plans.
Anti-Development signs posts planted in the yards of
several homes in the L-section illustrate the opposition from
residents against the proposeddevelopment at the former Matanzas
Woods Golf Course.
But Palm Coast planning officials reviewed the plans and had major concerns
about the project’s impact on people who live around the defunct golf course.
Jason DeLorenzo and Ray Tyner, the city’s most senior development officers, met
with reps from Ustilovsky’s firm on Thursday.
They advised them that Palm Coast’s land development code includes “protections”
for homeowners whose properties abut “existing golf course communities.” Those
protections prohibit any new development on former courses that will obstruct
the “existing direct golf course views” residents currently enjoy from their
On Friday, Chiumento seemed undaunted by the city’s response, saying developers
will work with Palm Coast officials and homeowners near the golf course to
revise and resubmit their proposal.
“We’ll have to continue to refine the plan and improve it to make sure it’s a
good development plan,” he said. “On most developments, you sit down and ypu
work with the city on what might be a benefit for the community. That doesn’t
mean that we can satisfy every single homeowner, but we’re certainly making an
Meanwhile, a multi-family residential complex proposed in the southwest corner
of the old golf course just north of Londonberry Drive, appears to be largely
compliant with city codes. The development plan on that parcel is capped at 50
townhouses and city planning officials limited the maximum height of the
townhouses to 40 feet to keep them compatible with existing homes in the
neighborhood. DeLorenzo said the town homes must be at least 1,000 square feet
and include a garage, according to city planners’ recommendations.
Ustilovsky’s team also carved out a 32-acre straight-away along U.S. 1 that once
served as one of the golf course’s fairgrounds for commercial development. The
area can accommodate nearly 425,000 square feet of commercial space in buildings
as high as 50 feet tall, according to the proposed development agreement.
But those plans will have to go back to the drawing board as well, following the
Developers revamped some of their original plans after nearly 200 residents
overwhelmingly opposed to the project showed up for a Dec. 5 neighborhood
meeting at Matanzas High School.
On Jan. 29, Chiumento applied for a land-use amendment to the 32-acre property
along U.S. 1. Tyner explained that city officials couldn’t properly review the
application for the land-use amendment because it did not include a traffic
analysis or environmental site study for the former fairgrounds parcel.
Ustilovsky can appeal the tweaks recommended by Palm Coast’s planning team, or
opt to move ahead with their original plans without any of the suggested
revisions. But that could be a death knell as the project would be deemed
Palm Coast’s planning board will have to review the proposed land-use amendment
and update the development agreement before the project moves forward. City
Council members will have to approve an ordinance to grant the final OK. There
is no timetable for how soon the project may progress to either of those boards.
The Matanzas Woods golf course has remained dormant since it closed during the
economic downturn in 2007. It was one of the city’s original four links built by
former Palm Coast developer ITT. Golf legend Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed
the 18-hole course, which opened in 1986. It was widely considered the best
among the original four courses in town and locals dubbed it the “jewel in the
The course changed hands multiple times over the years and several sales fell
through. Flagler County property records show Matanzas GC Palm Coast purchased
the property in April 2019 for $600,000.
The entire golf course is currently zoned as a master-planned development, or
MPD. But developers are petitioning to have the fairway parcel along U.S. 1
re-purposed from greenbelt-conservation to mixed-use on the city’s future
DeLorenzo explained that the course was designated as a “golf-course community,”
or GCC, under Palm Coast’s old comprehensive plan. The property was consolidated
to an MPD when the city ratified its first unified land development code in
2008. But the GCC standards on the property still apply, DeLorenzo said.
“Existing golf course views from existing platted lots located within any
residentially zoned area located across a right-of-way or a water body from the
site shall be maintained to the maximum extent practical,” Palm Coast’s land
development code states.
A group of residents started a private group on Facebook to share information
and devise a campaign to stop the developer’s plans. The group has also
circulated an online petition that had received 786 digital signatures by Friday
The residents are planning a neighborhood meeting for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the
African American Cultural Center, 4422 N. U.S. 1, Palm Coast.
“We didn’t always expect to have golf back here, but we bought into that sense
of green space behind us, not to see another neighbor behind us,” said Leann
Huggins, who lives on Lake Success Drive.
Critics say nearly 2,500 L-section lots in the surrounding residential
community, largely made up of duplexes and single-family homes, could feel the
effects of the project. They worry about unforeseen environmental hazards from
the long-derelict course, and impacts such a development could have on the
area’s stormwater drainage system.
According to city officials, the greenbelt designation gives developers rights
to build one residential unit per acre. Existing residents are against the idea
of apartments, condos, storage units, or commercial development sprouting up
behind their homes. They want the golf course to remain a greenbelt property.
Some residents say they purchased their homes for as much as $600,000 before the
golf course shut down. But those property values plummeted during the housing
bust. Now they are working to protect the “line of sight” behind their homes to
ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“They lost all their equity once before and they’re just starting to get equity
back,” Huggins said of the homeowners. “The concern is that if they put these
homes in that don’t conform with what we have now, they’ll lose their values
DeLorenzo, whose home overlooks a different Palm Coast golf course, said he can
relate to the concerns of homeowners in the L-section. He indicated officials
will rely on the city’s comprehensive plan and land development code to guide
“People who purchased on the golf course have a certain expectation that they
were either going to be living on a golf course or have open space,” DeLorenzo
said last week, as city planners were continuing to review the developer’s
application. “So I understand it completely and it is definitely a valid
“The property has certain development rights, and we’re just going to apply our
codes to make sure that the existing residents are protected while not
infringing on the property rights of the land owner,” he later added.
Chuimento said the developer is working to ease residents’ concerns.
“It’s very important that the community knows that they’re entitled to their
existing views,” he said, “and we have to take that into consideration.”