By DOTTY NIST
Plans for a third Donut Hole restaurant presented challenges for the Scenic Corridor Design Review Board (DRB).
The board met on March 7 at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.
Brent Chandler, owner of the two popular Donut Hole restaurants in Destin and Santa Rosa Beach, has submitted an application for a third Donut Hole in Inlet Beach. The 6,559-square-foot restaurant would be located on the north side of U.S. 98, at the Wall Street intersection, across from Shades. Chandler and his architect Geoffrey Chick, Jr., presented plans for the proposal to the board members, who are tasked with review of the aesthetics-related components of new developments on the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor.
The project site is approximately 1.3 acres.
Chick described the architecture of the proposed restaurant as a rural agrarian vernacular. Board members were complimentary about the general appearance of the plans.
On the agenda with the Donut Hole plans was a proposed deviation to allow the use of fiber cement board siding on the lower part of the restaurant building.
However, Mac Carpenter of Walton County Planning noted that the roof pitch displayed on the plans would also require the approval of a deviation from the Scenic Corridor Standards, which specify a slope of no less than 4:12 and no greater than 8:12. A steeper pitch of 12:12 was proposed for the restaurant.
Another issue was a windmill that was depicted on the plans. The Scenic Corridor Standards include as prohibited uses: “Any imitation of natural or manmade features including, but not limited to, mountains, volcanoes, gorges, animals, dinosaurs, windmills, oil derricks, airplanes or any other artificial depiction.” Many of these are items that are often associated with miniature golf courses, which are also prohitited from the Scenic Corridor.
However, Chick argued against the need for approval of a deviation for the windmill, since it would not be an artificial or decorative structure. Not only is the windmill part of the proposal’s agrarian vernacular, he explained, it would house a turbine to generate power for the restaurant. “This is a windmill that’s being used for a purpose,” he said.
Board Chairman Greg Griffith observed that there is no provision to allow windmills in the Scenic Corridor Standards and that no specifications are provided for board members to review such structures. “You’re forging new territory,” he told the applicants. Griffith clarified that the board’s purpose was certainly not to impede the economic climate.
Board members expressed concern that allowing this windmill could “open a Pandora’s box” for other applications with windmills not in line with the intent of the Scenic Corridor Standards.
Questioned about the placement of the windmill directly on the corner of the road, Chandler said the location had been decided on in order to catch wind coming up Wall Street from the beach.
Chick maintained that, as a green building feature, the windmill would be allowed by state law and that such law would prevent the design review board from denying permission for the windmill.
Lynn Hoshihara, serving as temporary attorney for the board, agreed to research any restriction on the authority of the board with regard to such a statute.
Approved by the board was the deviation to allow the use of the fiber cement siding. The board members also voted to approve the restaurant plans, subject to the approval of deviations from the code for the roof pitch and windmill, with the deviations to be considered at a future DRB meeting. The applicant was asked to provide at that time a photograph of the type of windmill he intended to use.
The restaurant proposal will also be required to undergo review by the Walton County Planning Commission and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners.
Also approved at the March 7 meeting was an amendment to The Landings shopping center signage plan to allow tenants occupying more than one bay to be designated as anchor tenants for purposes of allowable monument signs. The Landings is located on the northeast corner the intersection of U.S. 98 and Mussett Bayou Road.
In a related request, monument signs on U.S. 98 were proposed for two tenants of The Landings, Retail Therapy and the Electric Cart Company.
Frank Kovach of Furniture South, also a business located at The Landings, objected to these sign applications by his landlord because his company had been omitted. “We have been left out of the cycle,” said Kovach, who rents three bays at The Landings. He asked the board members to delay approval of the other signs until his company could be included with the signage applications.
However, Kovach was told that this was a matter between him and his landlord. Griffith noted that board members are only able to make a decision on items submitted to them. The monument signs for Retail Therapy and the Electric Cart Company were approved.
Also on the agenda was an application for a 108-square-foot monument/ground sign for Terra Mar Apartments. This is the second phase of development on the Topsail West property, the first phase being the existing Santa Rosa Beach Walmart. Terra Mar is to consist of 310 units planned for construction on the back side of the property.
Plans for the sign showed a two-faced structure, with the faces separated by 12 inches at minimum. The plans showed a tall two-tiered roof structure on the top of the sign.
Carpenter told the board members that, if they were to determine that the sign was not a monument sign but an accessory structure, redesign of the sign would be necessary, as accessory structures were not allowed in the Scenic Corridor buffer. After comments on the large size of the structure incorporated with the sign, the board members voted to deny the sign application and ask for resubmittal. It was agreed that the applicants would be allowed to put up a temporary sign in the interim, subject to approval by Walton County Code Enforcement.
On the agenda, as well, the North Holiday Road-area Uptown Plaza proposal was continued to the board’s 5 p.m. April 4 meeting at the South Walton Annex.