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Freeport: Heavy industrial land use and military influence planning

Sep 13th, 2012 | 0

By BEN GRAFTON

The Freeport Planning Board meeting of Sept. 5 was a continuation of the Aug. 1 meeting at which addition of a Heavy Industrial category to the Land Development Code (LDC) and the impact of the military sustainability legislation  on the city were the topics under discussion.

At this meeting City Planner Latilda Henninger introduced a draft change to the LDC that would modify the permitted uses under the General Industrial District (I-2) classification and create a new Heavy Industrial District (I-3).

The modifications to the I-2 classification included deleting the provision that permitted the manufacture of corrosive acids and moving the provisions permitting manufacture of fertilizers; excavation/mining; animal feeding or processing; and salvage or wrecking operations to the new I-3 classification. A provision to permit crematoriums was added and other parts of the I-2 classification were revised.

The I-3 classification would permit the uses previously covered in the I-2 classification and add hazardous waste to the permitted list. In addition, greater restrictions on location, site size, building requirements, buffers, infrastructure access and encroachment on residential areas were spelled out.

At the Planning Board’s request Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish Engineering presented an overview of landfill operations. He reported that there are 100 permitted landfills in the state, 30 of which are located in northwest Florida. He noted that landfill operations are heavily regulated, that they attract unwanted scavenger birds and they produce undesirable noise, dust and litter. Knauer does not recommend any landfill operation for Freeport.

The draft change to the LDC will be revised and a request made to the City Council to set a public hearing for the changes.

Using extracts of Florida’s military sustainability legislation, a copy of the Freeport portion of the Eglin Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), a compilation of nearly 500 properties within the city limits that would be affected if recommendations of the study were implemented, and a host of maps, the board engaged in a prolonged discussion about military sustainability and its impact on the Freeport community and its comprehensive plan.

Recommendations in the study, some of which are extensive, call for the city to establish a Military Influence Planning Area (MIPA); implement a lighting ordinance and limit object heights in the MIPA; undertake public awareness measures including identifying the large cruise missile corridors on all city maps; limit population density in the cruise missile corridors and conduct small area studies of the cruise missile corridor.

The minutes from the Planning Board meeting of Aug. 1 record that Mayor Mickey Marse has made the Eglin consultant aware that the city will not change or restrict density or land use within the Military Influence Overlay District. The Overlay District is a map overlay developed by the Joint Land Use Study which identifies lands, publicly and privately owned, that are in the Military Influence Planning Area.

Henninger provided a draft of a revision to the Comprehensive Plan that would implement some of the recommendations of the study. The draft would provide for adding a representative from Eglin as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the board. It would also provide a policy of sending copies of proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan, the LDC, development orders and requests for variances and waivers to Eglin for its non-binding comments.

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