By LEAH STRATMANN
The wait for a quorum-making fourth commissioner was almost as long as the monthly meeting of the Walton County Planning commission last week.
Chairman Tom Terrell prefaced the official agenda items noting his pleasure that the long overdue Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) was finally completed. “The process worked and I was proud we finally got that sucker out, but I was also proud about the way it was done. I think Walton County did a good job on it.”
All the commissioners passed an ordinance amending the Land Development Code to alter the effective date in regards to the implementation of the county’s flood insurance rate.
The only other agenda item was a major development application submitted by Connelly & Wicker requesting an amendment to previously approved development orders regarding the Longleaf Preserve project. The request consists of 740 single family units and the ability to provide 61,650 square feet of supporting public or commercial uses on 2,443 acres with a future land use of Black Creek neighborhood preservation, low residential density. The site is north of CR-3280 and south of Black Creek, approximately eight miles east of U.S. 331.
Speaking on behalf of the project, Lloyd Blue explained the parcel was designed to help Nokuse. “We have worked on improving this parcel for a long time. M.C. Davis sold approximately 4,000 acres to make Nokuse possible. We hope this will become the first large conservation community in Walton County. In order to be considered a conservation area, you must have at least 60 percent of open space on the property and the way this has been designed will provide about 72 percent of open space. The area will feature both wetland and wildlife corridors,” Blue said. “The best uplands and wildlife corridors were created along the river. We hope to come back to the county and restrict electric or no-wake areas in the river. We were able to significantly enhance the open space, and create open space that Nokuse needs for controlled burns and to protect the water body,” he said.
Blue was very enthusiastic about the project, noting, “This is a project everybody can be proud of and endorse. This has been years in the making. The last thing this county needs is another small lot, high intensity development to go along with all the vacant ones already in the county.”
Terrell inquired about the average size of the lots to be sold in the development.
“The average size is four acres,” Blue said. “On those tracts we anticipate all but about one-half acre being green space. We have clustered some villages with an organic farm village at the entrance and we plan to have a gopher tortoise preserve and grow food plots for deer, quail and turkeys in the area.”
Commissioner Randy Gardner made a motion to approve the request and all passed it.
Leah Stratmann may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org