By BENJAMIN GRAFTON
In City Hall on April 24, the Freeport City Council debated whether or not a request made by Cliff Knauer of Ramsey Creek RV Resort to locate the development on a 38-acre parcel, zoned commercial, at the intersection of U.S. 331 and LaGrange Road could be approved. Knauer described the proposed development as a “resort” where density would be limited seven lots per acre. The lots would be sold to “Baby-boomer” owners of top-of-the line RVs rather than the usual approach of 25 lots per acre which would be rented to RV owners. Council members were generally receptive to the concept, but were concerned that placing the RV resort in a location where adjacent properties might be a fast food restaurant or a welding shop would not be appropriate. Knauer said that this possibility was acceptable.
Hammock Bay developer Jay Odom told the Council he had done research on RV resorts and believed them to be “high-end” businesses. They attract owners of big RVs who are looking for a good lot.
Both Odom and Mark Martin of Walton County Planning Staff said they believed the Council could change the uses allowed in the commercial zoning category and provide for the RV resort. On a motion, the Council elected to table the discussion and to research the issues further. They said they would be ready to pursue the matter at the next Council meeting.
In other business, City Planner Latilda Henninger presented the final plat for Phase I of the Verandas at Freeport development. All requirements have been satisfied with the exception of turn lane designs which are being reviewed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The developer proposes the placement of a drain pipe under the turn lane to move storm water on through the turn lane area. The Council accepted the plat.
City Attorney Clayton Adkinson presented the second reading of an ordinance to accept the annexation of three parcels on West Bay Loop road into the City. The reading was approved.
Mayor Mickey Marse said that there was no suitable vehicle to transport the prisoner work crew to be furnished by the Department of Corrections to Freeport. He said this was an urgent matter because of the demand for production from this crew. He asked the Council to give him authority to purchase a suitable van for $21,000 to solve this problem. The Council approved the request.
Due to extenuating circumstances, the Council approved a six-month extension to the Regatta Point Ventures development order.
Leigh Morrison, Manager of the Life Enrichment Senior Center of Walton County, a Tri-County Council project, made a short presentation about available facilities for seniors in DeFuniak Springs. The facility is located in an 8,000 square-foot building at 312 College Avenue. Activities will include a computer lab, education programs and social benefits. Residents 50 years old or older are welcome to the facility.
Marse advised the Council that a 5.5 acre parcel west of City Hall was for sale and asked them whether of not they wished to consider purchasing the property.
Fire Chief Ben Greenslat displayed the City Logo that will appear on Fire Department uniforms and equipment and then made a request for permission to purchase a new brush fire rapid response truck equipped with a 500 gallon water tank and a 500 gal/min. pump. This smaller, more efficient truck, which would cost approximately $85,500 to build and deliver, would be used instead of the big trucks to answer calls to suppress brush and accident fires. The big trucks would be reserved for house and building fires. The Council approved the request.
Councilman Earl King asked the Council for two things dealing with the new park in Hammock Bay. He asked the Council to adopt a name for the park and to set the operating hours for the facility. After a short discussion the Council opted to name the park the “Freeport Regional Sports Complex.”
Because of the intense maintenance requirements of the facility the Council will consider retaining Dogwood Services to manage maintenance services. They also intend to use the Department of Corrections crew to carry out some groundskeeping work. After discussion they set park hours at 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday – Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. The park will be closed for maintenance until 10 a.m. on week-days. A motion to temporarily hire Dogwood Services to handle maintenance for the next sixty days was approved by the Council.