By DOTTY NIST
While other items were covered, most of the Walton County Planning Commission’s time was devoted to discussion of an amendment request concerning the Prominence planned unit development (PUD) at the county board’s recent meeting.
The Oct. 10 planning commission regular meeting took place at the South Walton Annex.
Renee Bradley of Walton County Planning introduced the Prominence request, which if implemented will decrease density and intensity for the unbuilt portion of the previously-approved 79-acre mixed-use development on CR-30A just west of Camp Creek Lake. The request called for a reduction in total intensity and density from 650 residential units to 625, from 200,000 gross square feet of retail to 40,000 gross square feet of general commercial, and for the deletion of a previously-approved hotel and spa. A previously-approved 13,000 square feet of civic space is to remain.
Bradley then read off a long list of additional items included in the request. Among those were that the Walton County Technical Review Committee (TRC) would handle future review of the development’s phases rather than consideration by the planning commission and Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) being required. Among other items were an unlimited buy-out in connection with preservation requirements, the ability to vary road size, zero setbacks along CR-30A, ability to put unlimited parking spaces in a row, a reduction from 10 percent to 5 percent on landscape buffer requirements in the interior of parking areas, and ability to place sidewalks only on one side of the road.
Representing the applicants, engineer David Smith commented that Prominence had been approved as a PUD in 2007. Phase 1 of the development is built, he said, and that there is a new owner of the property. “The owner has a new vision,” Smith told the board members.
“It appears that you all are asking for deviations from almost everything,” planning commission member Suzanne Harris observed.
Smith said the request regarding review of future phases was to clarify that the procedure would be “the way things used to be.” The code requires that review be by the planning commission and BCC if the approved development is amended by more than 5 percent, he noted. He added that the request calls for previously-approved deviations for the PUD to be deleted and for the current requirements of the Walton County Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code to apply.
Planning commission member David Kramer asked what would be the applicants’ concept for parking along the CR-30A Scenic Corridor. Smith responded that the parking would not be along CR-30A but on the other side of buildings on the highway.
Kramer asked if any deceleration or turning lanes would be provided off CR-30A. Smith responded no, but that there would be multiple accesses. Kramer suggested that a warrant study be provided for the deceleration/turn lanes.
Kramer asked why an unlimited buy-out on preservation was being sought, observing that there are “interesting native communities” on the property. Smith responded that 50 percent buy-out is already possible. He added that the applicants are required to develop the property consistent with the plans already approved, which show an extensive green space.
Harris asked why the board members should agree with the proposed landscaping reduction. Smith responded to allow more clustering of parking. “Our goal is to provide all the green space we have shown and still do a Traditional Neighborhood Development,” he stated.
Davis Prusch, a neighbor of the property, expressed concern as to whether enough stormwater capacity would be provided to keep adjacent property from flooding. Smith responded that Prominence is required to retain all stormwater on site.
After more discussion between board members, Smith offered some changes to the amendment request, including the addition of an operational analysis to determine if turn lanes off CR-30A would be warranted, a sidewalk master plan, an agreement to the placement of a maximum of 10 parking spaces together within the commercial portion only, an agreement to provide 10-foot landscape buffers, and an agreement to limit recreational buy-out to a maximum of five acres.
Kramer motioned to recommend approval with the added conditions, also stating that parking on the right-of-way would be allowed only in commercial portions of the development and that a parking plan would be required to be submitted to staff. His motion was approved with all aye votes.
The board members also voted to recommend approval of a county-sponsored large-scale amendment to change 44.5 acres of the Prominence property from a Court Ordered Overlay land use classification to Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) classification in line with the remainder of the property. Bradley explained that the 44.5 acres, which had originally been TND, had been erroneously changed to Court Ordered Overlay.
In other action at the Oct. 10 meeting, the board members voted to recommend approval of the Floodplain Management Ordinance, which designates a county floodplain administrator and sets procedures and criteria for development in flood hazard areas.
Approval of the EcoLead Homes, L.L.C., petition for abandonment was recommended, consisting of 0.112 acre on the south side of U.S. 98 E near Tang -O-Mar Drive.
Also receiving a recommendation for approval was Crossings at Inlet Beach, a 17,355-square-foot commercial retail center proposed for a 2.68-acre site between Wall Street and Orange Street, north of U.S. 98 in Inlet Beach.
Planning commission decisions are provided as recommendations to the BCC, which is charged with making a final determination on development proposals.