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Sea Ray Reaches Out to Flagler Beach and the Larger Community

Will the City of Flagler Beach Commissioners choose Abuse of Power on the taxpayers’ dime or drop efforts to stop Sea Ray from building an employee parking lot?

By Toby Tobin
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PALM COAST, FL – August 6, 2015 – Flagler Beach City Commissioners meet today in a 2:05 P.M. special session to decide whether or not to fund an appeal of Flagler County’s recent land use change permitting Sea Ray to build an employee parking lot. If the Commissioners decide to go forward with an appeal, Flagler Beach taxpayers will foot the bill.

What’s going on here? A handful of Lambert Avenue residents (I call them the North Lambertonians) are joined by some City Commissioners in an all-out battle against Sea Ray. This battle predates the current parking lot scrimmage. The alliance simply does not want a manufacturing plant with its accompanying odors and noise adjoining their city. Thus we are faced with the absurd possibility of using Flagler Beach taxpayer dollars to appeal Flagler County’s decision allowing construction of Sea Ray’s parking lot while:

  • At the same time that Flagler Beach is fighting a revenue problem
  • At the same time Flagler Beach is considering implementing paid parking to increase revenue
  • At the same time Flagler Beach is expanding public parking lots within the city

Public abuse of power wrapped in personal agendas looks into the mirror and sees only public servants in the reflection. This would be laughable if it were a TV sitcom, but it is not.

The antagonists’ real issue is not about land use. It’s all about the smell and the noise. They ignore three important facts.

  1. Sea Ray has been inspected dozens of times and has never failed an inspection. Its emissions are well within allowable limits.
  2. Any appeal would have to be of the county’s land use change. Environmental arguments would not be admissible.
  3. The State of Florida, to whom the appeal would be addressed, has already reviewed and approved the land use change.

Moreover, when the Sea Ray plant was opened in 1982, there was only one home on North Lambert Avenue, which runs next to the plant. The North Lambertonians built their homes next to a preexisting plant; I assume with their eyes, ears and noses wide open.

The North Lambertonians have found their petty counterparts on the Flagler Beach City Commission. The Commission decides today whether or not to spend taxpayers’ money to support not only a possible city appeal but perhaps also the North Lambertonians’ appeal as well.

Sea Ray is not a political entity. They build luxury boats. They build them really well. The local plant consistently leads parent Brunswick, their parent company, in measures of quality, safety and efficiency. They also employ about 750 people, many of whom are Flagler Beach residents and taxpayers

Call to action

GoToby.com applauds Sea Ray’s decision to reach out to the residents of Flagler Beach and the surrounding communities. The following open letter was issued late yesterday. I urge everyone to read it, then to contact the following Flagler Beach City Commissioners and tell them to stop wasting taxpayers’ money to fund their personal vendetta.


To the Flagler Beach Community and Surrounding Areas:

The purpose of this letter is to clarify some points before the Flagler Beach City Commission’s meeting Thursday afternoon. At that time, the Commission is expected to consider filing an appeal to Flagler County’s recent approval of our request for rezoning.

First, the proposal is — as they say — what it is. Sea Ray has received approval from the Flagler County Commission, which has jurisdiction over this matter, to rezone the property for use as a parking lot, finished boat staging and possible future office space. While some have claimed the new parking lot is some veiled attempt to increase production, it is not.

Further, any claims that Sea Ray is exceeding or ignoring environmental concerns are false. Sea Ray is well within the applicable standards and works hard every day to improve in this area. We do so not only because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do and we also truly value our presence within the community. We work and live here as all of you, who are our neighbors, do.

Throughout this process, Sea Ray has actively and candidly communicated its intent in seeking this zoning change. As we complete this process and continue to move forward, Sea Ray will continue to openly share its plans with the community to keep you informed and seek your assistance and feedback.

We are seeking this approval so we can have safe, convenient parking for our employees. We believe this new parking lot is our best option to provide all in our workforce more convenience, improved safety over the current crowded conditions, and also offer Sea Ray increased efficiency by freeing up space within the existing property and physical plant, perhaps for additional covered mold storage and warehouse space.

These efficiencies are absolutely essential to maintaining and advancing the competitive advantages we now enjoy to continue to compete in the global marine market. Again, while relocating our parking lot would make the operation safer and more efficient, its purpose is not to increase overall production levels.

We hope that all of our neighbors in Flagler Beach, including the members of the Flagler Beach City Commission, will carefully sift through what is sometimes emotional rhetoric to examine the facts of the situation and take a step back to carefully consider the next steps in this matter — and the potential impact upon our employees’ safety and Sea Ray’s ability to sustain its advantages and compete and thrive in the global marine market — before taking any action.

To these two points — maintaining our competitiveness in the market, and especially the safety of our employees — no one should underestimate Sea Ray’s resolve and willingness to deploy resources to uphold both. We hold dearly to those goals and have demonstrated our commitment through the years to achieve them.

And while we don’t question the commission’s motives in this matter, as a long-standing member of the Flagler County community — having been operating at Palm Coast for more than 30 years — we are also left to ponder if filing an appeal is a wise and prudent move on the part of the Flagler Beach City Commission.

By its own admission, the City Commission is uncertain of its legal standing in the matter. And as with any such action, the ultimate outcome of such an appeal is uncertain. What is certain in taking such a step is that considerable taxpayer resources, such as money and time, for starters, will be committed to a process that could be both protracted and expensive.

It is not for us to say if it is a wise use of such resources when Flagler Beach, as any number of municipal governments, is facing so many other challenges requiring careful and effective use of finite funds and other types of assets. We hope that Mayor Linda Provencher and those commissioners who serve with her will exercise sound judgment in their decision.

–Sea Ray Boats, Palm Coast

reader comments
A few thoughts
Posted by Charlie Faulkner
Aug 06, 2015, 3:28 pm
A quote that has always stuck in my mind comes from one of my greatest childhood heroes. Admiral Horatio Hornblower once ordered his ship to, “Come about and let’s show them the full fury of a broadside from a ship of the line!” Metaphorically speaking, this is what a Fortune 500 company has just said to the little City of Flagler Beach Commission should they choose to continue poking Sea Ray. Multiply times 2 or 3 whatever the City’s Attorney estimates the cost of legal action to be. Defending yourself in court cost money too.

The claim that Sea Ray is harming the environment and tourism is a self-serving lie and it is a shame the City Commission appears to believe it. All the Lambertonian rhetoric doesn’t warrant further ink and they should be exposed as the villains that they are!

I’ve heard that we want to keep the “Old Florida charm” here in Flagler Beach and can’t do that if we smell fiberglass resin every now & then; NEWS FLASH morons, for those of us that grew up here in Florida that smell was commonplace in “Old Florida”. People built & repaired their own boats & surfboards all the time; particularly near the water! (But it is amazing that the Golden Lion placed 4th as Florida’s favorite beach bar with all that fiberglass stench!) Why can’t retired rich people just relax, enjoy the wonderful lives they have and not build their houses near a boat building plant… perhaps California?

The Lambertonians should pay for their own selfish stupid war if they want one, not me, a Flagler Beach tax payer. I’d be willing to help fund a war to make sure the 750 Sea Ray families continue to be able to make a living here, so if the City Commission decides to file an action against the Lambertonians…I’m all in!
Sea Ray vs. Flagler Beach
Posted by John Soutar
Aug 06, 2015, 9:33 am
I moved to Palm Coast 6 years ago after living in an upstate New York community where a similar issue played out that affected over 2000 local workers. Three manufacturers ( Kraft foods, Del-met manufacturing, and H.P. Bailey Corp) decided rather than fight local politics on non-substantial environmental issues, moved operations to other out of state facilities they operated, and 2000 plus workers all lost their jobs in an area that sorely needed those jobs to remain. This could blow up into a financial disaster for the local area (Palm Coast and Flagler Beach) and serve no useful purpose, except to satisfy some Lambert Ave residents who knew who their neighbor was before they moved in.
Sea Ray Employee Parking Lot
Posted by Carol Griner
Aug 06, 2015, 8:15 am
Those of us who have lived in the Flagler Beach, Palm Coast area for a long time has witnessed the abuse of power the Flagler Beach Commissioners hold on business owners.
It's time to clean house and get rid of this Board.
Sea Ray has done nothing wrong here. Their employees deserve a parking lot.
If you bought or built a home in the area, then you knew what you were living by.

Flagler Beach Commissioners are a disgrace to their community.
They hold up permits for their own satisfaction, for months! If you get on their bad side, your will sit in limbo. Good luck Sea Ray, we are on your side!

 
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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.