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BCC EYES SETTING HEIGHTS FOR NORTH COUNTY

Jun 22nd, 2009 | 0

By DOTTY NIST

Prior to a temporary height limit ordinance being approved in November 2007, there was no specific limit on the height of new construction north of the bay in Walton County. The temporary ordinance set a 50-foot height limit, uniform with the limit that had existed in south Walton County for many years.
On June 30, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC)  will consider a proposal for several height limits in north Walton County, tied to land use areas.
The source of the proposed limits is the amendments based on the county’s 2006 evaluation and appraisal report (EAR). The amendments are also under consideration by the county.
As proposed, a 40-foot north county height limit would be set for construction in residential areas, a 75-foot limit for construction in commercial areas, and a 100-foot limit for construction in industrial areas.
Of the three, the proposed 40-foot limit for residential has brought forth the most reaction and comment. There have been comments by commissioners and the public in favor of keeping the residential height limit uniform with the 50-foot one existing in south Walton.
County Commission Chair Sara Comander also commented that it should be a priority to ensure that uses such as silos and other farm structures are not hampered in agricultural areas.
Pat Blackshear of Walton County Planning and Development Services said that the 40-foot recommendation associated with north Walton County residential uses was the result of public input during workshops associated with the proposed EAR-based amendments.
The temporary height limit ordinance for north Walton County had sunset on May 27, but on May 26 the BCC had voted to direct staff not to accept any development applications involving construction in excess of 50 feet.
Blackshear had recommended that the BCC hold public hearings to renew the temporary ordinance until such time as height limits had been approved for north Walton County through the EAR-based amendments and the period for challenge of the amendments had expired. In accordance with that recommendation, the BCC had set and advertised a public hearing for June 9 for consideration of a height limit ordinance “for all of Walton County.”
However, on June 9, District 3 Commissioner Larry Jones said he was uncomfortable looking at extending the 50-foot temporary height limit ordinance, which he called a “skeleton ordinance.” He moved to continue consideration of the height limits until the June 30 BCC meeting, at which the limits proposed for north Walton County in the EAR-based documents would be considered.
His motion was approved unanimously. The June 30 BCC meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and take place in the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.
The proposals to be considered at that meeting do not involve changes to the 50-foot height limit for south Walton County. The proposed EAR-based amendments also call for that limit to remain in place, with the exception of a 75-foot allowable height for hospital construction and construction of some other structures associated with hospital uses.
Dotty Nist may be contacted at beachbreezenews@gmail.com.

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