HomeTop StoriesFlagler County's purchase adds land to the "crown jewel" Princess Place Preserve

Flagler County’s purchase adds land to the “crown jewel” Princess Place Preserve

Flagler County and the St. Johns River Water Management District added another 25 acres along Princess Place Road, adding to the county’s park system. The purchase also improves the Pellicer Creek Conservation Corridor, the province stated on March 28, 2024.

Flagler County and the St. Johns River Water Management District added another 25 acres to Princess Place Preserve, the “crown jewel” of the county’s park system, through a $700,000 purchase.

The purchase was the first in a decade through the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands program, county communications coordinator Julie Murphy wrote in a news release.

The land is located along Princess Place Road and is bordered on three sides by the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Pellicer Creek Conservation Area – approximately 3,000 acres of natural area in northeastern Flagler County that is connected to the 1,500-acre Princess Place Preserve.

The acquisition strengthens the Pellicer Creek Conservation Corridor, which preserves and protects the region’s habitat and water supply, said Deputy Director of General Services Mike Lagasse.

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“This is a great addition to our inventory of protected areas,” Lagasse said. “It is known as the ‘Kelly’ lot, previously owned by a family of the same name, and was the last private, undeveloped lot on Princess Place Road.”

The land was purchased from James and Judith Kelly of the JJKelly Trust for $700,000, according to a warranty deed.

Flagler County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands program was initiated in the late 1980s to acquire and preserve environmentally sensitive lands for recreation, water recharge and as habitat for endangered species.

“The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Program has truly benefited Flagler County and the municipalities,” Lagasse said. “Where possible, we seek to leverage our funds with other sources, such as the state’s Florida Forever program or the St. Johns River Water Management District, to increase ESL’s purchasing power. It brings money back to the province.”

The St. Johns River Water Management District will manage the new property because it is adjacent to the Pellicer Creek Conservation Area.

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“This purchase is a great reminder of the work the Environmentally Sensitive Lands program has done in Flagler County since the late 1980s,” said County Administrator Heidi Petito. “It is important to preserve and preserve properties that our local landowners and citizens have identified as critical to remaining natural for future generations.”

Murphy provided this history of Flagler County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Program:

  • In order to preserve Princess Place for the public, Flagler County voters in 1988 approved an ad valorem tax to acquire environmentally sensitive lands, recreational areas and water conservation areas.

  • The Land Acquisition Selection Advisory Committee (LAC) was formed in 1989 to advise the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners on potential acquisitions.

  • The first purchase was Bings Landing Park in 1989. Princess Place Preserve was purchased in phases in 1993 and 1996.

  • In 1998, the Board of County Commissioners decided to refinance the original bond and obtain additional funds – backed by debt service – giving the county an additional $1.52 million for land purchases.

  • In 2002, more than 74% of voters confirmed their support for the program by adopting a referendum for the issuance of bonds from environmentally sensitive countries. This allowed the county to issue general obligation bonds not to exceed $6.7 million, payable from annual ad valorem taxes levied at a rate of not more than 0.163 mill for a term of not more than 14 years.

  • Voters approved a referendum in 2008 that extended the program for another 20 years and provided the flexibility to fund up to $40 million.

  • This new program also included a provision that allowed an amount equal to up to 10% of the purchase price to be used for land management, improving public access and improving habitat.

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This article originally appeared in The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Flagler County adds land to ‘crown jewel’ Princess Place Preserve

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