By BEN GRAFTON
The first item on the Walton County Planning Commission meeting agenda of Aug. 9 was a request by the county itself, to adopt an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Element Policy L-1.4.4, Neighborhood Commercial. The proposal would modify the criteria for new future designations in the Route 30A Scenic Corridor on the east side of DeFuniak Street, south of CR- 30A and north of Pine Street, in Grayton Beach. This change would eliminate present non-conforming uses of lots 1 to 6 which were approved prior to the development of the Comprehensive Plan and allow expansion or re-development. An adjacent property owner appeared before the commission and supported the proposed change. The request was approved by the commission.
In a more contentious issue, a representative for Thomas Hicks requested a large scale map amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to change the Future Land Use Map designation of approximately 195 acres located about three miles east of U.S. 331 South, on the north side of Rock Hill Road, from Estate Residential to Extractive Use. The representative stated that there was plenty of room for buffers including those around wetlands on the property.
Commissioner Lee Perry contended that Hicks was presently in violation of the code by excavation and by disposal of landscaping trash on the property.
It was also reported that Hicks was involved in civil litigation over another matter. Commission Chair Tom Terrell ruled that the litigation had nothing to do with Hick’s current request and was not a Planning Commission matter.
Two residents of the area appeared before the commission and opposed the proposed change. They alleged that dump trucks were driving up and down the road every day, that the activity is not beneficial to the Estate Residential neighborhood, and that approval of the request would only reward someone who is already violating the rules.
Perry made a motion to deny the request, but his motion died for lack of a second.
Following the first motion, Terrell passed the gavel to another commissioner and made a motion to approve the request. This motion passed by a vote of 2 to 1 with Perry voting against the motion.
Two requests for new ordinances to modify the land development code were submitted by the county. The first of these would change the procedure for valuing platted land when calculating recreation impact fees for subdivisions. The second one was very similar and would change the procedure for valuing land area when calculating preservation buy-out fees for subdivisions. The changes would allow applicants to present current certified appraisals of the land to be used in the calculations. The county could get certified rebuttal appraisals if that was deemed appropriate. Staff indicated this change would simplify the procedures now in use. Both requests were approved.