By DOTTY NIST
After years of discussion, county commissioners have approved the first countywide height limit ordinance for the unincorporated areas of Walton County.
The approval took place at the Aug. 11 regular meeting of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC).
For south Walton County, the ordinance made few changes to height limits that have been in place for many years. For the entire area south of the Choctawhatchee Bay, construction is to be capped at 50 feet for all uses, including single-family residential, multifamily residential, commercial, industrial and institutional. The previous alternative of “or four stories,” with reference to the height limit, has been eliminated.
The ordinance includes information on the more stringent height limitations in place in the south Walton County communities of Grayton Beach, Old Point Washington, and Inlet Beach as a result of the effots of residents in those areas.
For north Walton County, the ordinance sets a height limit of 50 feet for single-family and multifamily residential uses with normal building setbacks as set forth in county code. For these residential uses, on parcels which can accommodate a building setback 1.25 times the proposed building height, construction height is to be capped at 75 feet.
For north Walton commercial or institutional land uses, the ordinance sets a 75-foot height limit, and for industrial uses, a 100-foot limit.
For all north Walton land uses in the unincorporated areas, construction adjacent to or within a quarter-mile from a municipal boundary will be required to be “compatible in scale and character” with structures located in that municipality.
Exceptions to the countywide height limitation ordinance are noted but will require a case-by-case review and favorable vote of the BCC for approval. In applicable areas, a favorable vote of the Scenic Corridor Design Review Board would be required, as well. Exceptions include: church steeples and spires; aircraft radio towers and navigational aids; private solar energy facilities and windmills; publicly-owned civic buildings or those related to public welfare; commercial or industrial construction in conjunction with north Walton economic development project per the recommendation of the Economic Development Alliance; construction related to public health, safety and welfare such as hospitals; and nonhabitable, nonleasable architectural features such as cupolas and towers as provided for in Chapter 13 of the Walton County Land Development Code, the Scenic Corridor section.
The ordinance provides methodology for measurement of building or structure height. The document provides that chimney height per the requirements of the Florida Building Code is not to be included in height calculation.
The document makes reference to height “exemptions provided for by state or federal laws and administrative codes.” These are not considered subject to regulation by the ordinance and therefore do not require a vote of the BCC. Examples are listed in an appendix to the ordinance and include amateur radio antennas, public utility facilities, bona fide agricultural farm buildings or structures, and developments vested for building heights.
The countywide height limit ordinance was approved by unanimous vote of the BCC.
By DOTTY NIST