By BEN GRAFTON
At the beginning of the Walton County Planning Commission meeting of Nov. 8, Chairman Tom Terrell announced that because of a conflict with a meeting of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, Attorney Toni Craig would be a few minutes late arriving for the Planning Board meeting. To avoid unnecessary delay Terrell revised the agenda by starting with the second scheduled item, a less challenging topic.
Senior Planner Mac Carpenter presented a request for a proposed Scenic Corridor Sign Ordinance to amend Chapter 13.03.04. The present code limits tenants to only one sign even though they occupy more than one bay of a commercial building. The proposed change would still allow only one sign, but those tenants occupying more than one bay would be able to put up signs having more square feet of signage. Designated anchor tenants would be able to have signs of up to 100 square feet. The commission approved the request and will send the amendment to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) with a recommendation for approval.
Carpenter, with Craig now present, presented a proposed ordinance to amend Chapter 13 of the Land Development Code to designate U.S. 331 the “Beach Highway Scenic Corridor” from the north end of the Clyde B. Wells Bridge to the south city limit for the city of DeFuniak Springs. The corridor would extend 400 feet to the east and to the west of the highway right-of-way. The ordinance would adopt provisions for permitted uses and structures and for prohibited uses, structures and setbacks. The prohibition would include outdoor advertising (except for those billboards already approved and installed), off-premise signs, water towers, wall murals used as advertising, flags and spinners (with some exceptions), certain types of sign lighting and other items.
Commissioner David Kramer pointed out that neither the commission nor the public has had adequate time to review the Scenic Corridor ordinance and Terrell proposed limiting action on billboards until appropriate workshops could be held and more public input be received.
Albert Paris of Palmetto Properties addressed the commission and expressed being upset because the proposed ordinance, with more regulations, will hurt businesses along the corridor at a time when the economy is already depressed. Paris does not think that regulations for Highways 30A and U.S. 98 should apply to U.S. 331. Paris said, “It’s a tough market and we don’t know what will happen in the next four years.”
Leon Franklin, the owner of an independent community sign service also addressed the commission. He said, “…existing modernized signs should be allowed to stay,” and that, “Walton County spacing for signs is very restrictive.” He pointed out that when a sign goes down in a storm or an accident, it cannot be rebuilt. He would like to continue to put up signs where they should be.
Kramer asked Franklin how many signs are installed along U.S. 331 from the Wells Bridge to DeFuniak Springs. Franklin answered that there were probably 18 to 20 bill boards.
A motion to give the commission more time to study the proposed ordinance and hold public meetings about it was approved.
In other business: Donald McCraken requested an ordinance to adopt a small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 10+/- acres located on Triple G Road, 0.3 miles from its intersection with CR-1883. The ordinance would change the zoning from General Agriculture to Business Park. This request was approved for sending on the BCC for action.
George Kingston requested an ordinance to adopt a Small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 8.24 acres located on the north side of U.S. 98 at its intersection with 30A in Inlet Beach. This ordinance would change the zoning from Neighborhood Infill to Village Mixed Use. The request was approved for sending on the BCC for action.
Phil Weisenhunt requested an ordinance to adopt a Small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 0.24 acres located south of 30A approximately 75 feet west of Cedar Bend Road. This ordinance would change the zoning from Residential Preservation to Neighborhood Infill. The request was approved for sending to the BCC for action.
Canaan Recovery Foundation requested an ordinance to adopt a Small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 2 +/- acres located east of East Hewitt and approximately 3/4 mile north of U.S. 98. This ordinance would change the zoning from Conservation Residential to Institutional. The request was approved for sending to the BCC for action.
Walton County requested an ordinance to adopt a Small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 2 +/- acres at the intersection of U.S. 331 North and Oakwood Lakes Blvd. This ordinance would change the zoning from Urban Residential to Industrial. The request was approved for sending to the BCC for action.
Walton County also requested an ordinance to adopt a Small Scale Future Land Use Map Amendment for 2.1 +/- acres located at the intersection of Oakwood Lakes Blvd and Commerce Boulevard/Commerce Circle. This ordinance would change the zoning from Residential to Industrial. The request was approved for sending to the BCC for action.