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Corridor design standards draw attention of Planning Commission

Mar 21st, 2014 | 0

By BEN GRAFTON
At the beginning of the Walton County Planning Commission meeting on March 13, of 10 items on the agenda, seven were continued to the commission meeting of April 10. Those continued included  reviews of an agricultural uses ordinance;  a mining ordinance; a limited lodging ordinance; a U.S. 98/US 331 outdoor display ordinance; a Stonegate-LSA project; abandonment of a small parcel of right-of-way property at the corner of CR-395/CR-30A; and an amendment to the Mossy Head Industrial Park PUD
The first of the remaining three items was a protracted discussion of a proposed U.S. 331 Corridor Design Standards Ordinance. As written, the draft of this ordinance envisions adding 300 feet to each side of the project right-of-way where construction is now underway. The intent would be, “to manage and promote economic development along Walton County’s Central Transportation Corridor,” and to “maximize property values along the U.S. 331 corridor….”
There have been three advertised workshops about the proposed standards, but Commissioner David Kramer feels that property owners, particularly absentee owners, “don’t have a clue yet.” Commission members pointed out that a lot of the land abutting the right-of-way is zoned Industrial and the proposed ordinance poses access and development problems. There was also concern over how the property owner who owns a 50-foot wide parcel would get access to his land. Commissioner Suzanne Harris indicates she thinks the ordinance leaves too much to planning discretion and that the staff should come back to the commission with revised language. There are also questions about who will own the access roads and who will be liable in case of accidents. Commission Chair Tom Terrell thinks language should be revised to be more attractive to industry.
To deal with the Corridor Design Standards, Terrell proposed a continuance until April 10, and asked the commission members and the audience to provide written comments about potential problems and submit them by e-mail within two weeks. The individual comments would be reviewed to identify common themes and these would be sent on the planning staff.
In the two remaining agenda items:
A proposed ordinance to regulate land clearing activities within the Coastal Dune Lakes Protection Zone was discussed. Kramer asked staff to provide a definition for all types of clearing. Staff will come back to the April 10 meeting with clarifying definitions and with additional comments.
A major development order application for City Produce was discussed. This project would develop a 17,540 square foot distribution space and an additional 2,900 square foot office space on 5.27 acres located at the intersection of CR-393 and Market Street. Further review will be on the agenda for the April 10 meeting.

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