After a contentious debate, Flagler County, Fla., officials voted late Monday to approve Sea Ray’s rezoning request for its facility there, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The company has requested a land use change for 24 acres south of its plant from residential to commercial in order to build a new parking lot for its growing workforce. Due to the production of additional models at the factory, the current parking lot is being used to store boat hulls and materials, and employees have been forced to park along the connecting road, the company said.
Craig Wall, the plant’s operations manager, wrote in a piece for FlaglerLive.com:
In 2005, the plant produced seven different models. Today it manufactures 17 distinct models, 10 of which are either new to the product portfolio or used to be made at other Sea Ray plants, which have since been closed.
Several of those models new to Palm Coast are large and complex, requiring additional skilled employees as well as additional boat molds, tooling and other materials. In short, we have more employees and necessary supplies to accommodate on the property.
Opponents of the move say they are concerned that the change was a precursor to an eventual expansion of the factory, and expressed worries about increased emissions.
Both the county’s planning board and Flagler Beach’s city commission opposed the changes, but the Flagler County Commission voted unanimously to approve it Monday. Hundreds of local residents turned out Monday to express their views on the proposal, with a fairly even split between opponents and proponents, according to local media reports.
Sea Ray currently employs about 680 people at the location.