FLAGLER BEACH - After months upon months of being one holdout away from the start of a major dune restoration project, Flagler County has finally reached an agreement that will allow things to proceed. Cynthia D'Angiolini owns a property on the beach in the area that's slated for major work by the Army Corps of Engineers, and had until now refused to allow the project to take place there.
The county and D'Angiolini reached the agreement at her bankruptcy hearing on January 31st in Orlando. Instead of receiving money from the county, D'Angiolini signed for an allotment of rights assurances. The county's efforts were spearheaded in large part by County Attorney Al Hadeed and County Administrator Heidi Petito, and later approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
The length of delays to the dune project nearly led to the pulling out of the Army Corps of Engineers, suggesting a critical blow to crucial environmental recovery efforts. The county increased pressure on D'Angiolini in light of this prospect, even threatening to invoke the constitutional principle of eminent domain. It was ultimately better to achieve voluntary harmony, Hadeed would later reason, than to start a years-long court battle to legally seize D'Angiolini's property.
D'Angiolini's agreement comes close to a year after the second to last agreement was reached with Leonard Surles, another property owner who proved thorny for the county. Neither individual is receiving substantial benefits beyond what other property owners were given.
Also applying pressure to the situation was the battering Flagler Beach took in hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Massive swaths of sand were washed away by the storms, on top of a seemingly random instance of mass erosion earlier in the year. As some begin to question the long-term viability of Flagler County's beachside infrastructure, the agreement with D'Angiolini is a major step toward allowing for replenishment and mitigation.