Forman Developer Agreement and amendment, other proposals move forward [PREMIUM]

LOCATION MAP for the property included in the Forman Large Scale Amendment and the Forman Developer Agreement (Project #LUM 18-000010).

By DOTTY NIST 

The Forman Developer Agreement, the Forman Large Scale Amendment, the Christ the King Episcopal Church Education Building #2, the Miramar Amalfi Regional Beach Access Rezoning, the Southeast Land Partners, L.L.C., Small Scale Amendment; Southeast Storage, and Camp Creek Residential all took a step forward on March 14 with approval by the Walton County Planning Commission at Freeport Commons.

Forman Developer Agreement and Forman Large Scale Amendment

The Forman property consists of 282.05+ acres at the north end of Veterans Road in Santa Rosa Beach. Applicant Charles Forman has stated plans for a primarily-residential development on the property, but the initial submittals have been for the developer agreement and large scale amendment.

In 2018, both the planning commission and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) had voted in favor of transmitting to the state agencies, as required, the Forman Large Scale Amendment (LSA), providing for a land use change on all but approximately 10 acres of the property from Conservation Residential and Conservation Residential 2:1 (two units per acre), to Low Density Residential, with the remaining 10 acres to be Neighborhood Infill.

Those approvals were with the understanding that a developer agreement would be brought back to the planning commission and then the BCC. Among the conditions of the developer agreement were to be that development density would remain at two units per acre on the portion to be classified as Low Density Residential and eight units per acre on the smaller Neighborhood Infill portion.

The developer agreement was presented at the March 14 planning commission meeting, with the term stated as 10 years. The agreement provides that the developer is to use a planned unit development (PUD) overlay and sets densities, intensities, and height for the development.

Per the agreement, a maximum density of two units per acre are set for the Low-Density residential portion, and a maximum density of eight units per acre for the Neighborhood Infill portion. The agreement sets a cap on the total number of dwelling units at 640. Height is set at 50 feet. Maximum non-residential intensity is set at 75,000 square feet of commercial building space.

In addition, the agreement states that the developer will provide a minimum of 20 percent of the housing units priced at $250,000 or less, anticipated to be townhomes or apartments, with rent to be $1,500 per month or less, in order to assist working families in obtaining housing near their work. A transit stop is to be provided, as well, when public transportation becomes available to the area.

The agreement requires application by the developer and “reasonable efforts,” to obtain permits to enhance wetlands on the development property and create lakes on the property. It provides for construction and dedication to the public a recreational pedestrian trail system, around the enhanced wetlands/lakes and sets other requirements for the location of the trail system.

Among transportation-related provisions of the agreement are a requirement for the developer to “construct the extension of Nellie Drive from Chat Holly Road to U.S. Highway 98.”

The agreement includes “reasonable efforts” for transfer of density out of the floodplain portions of the property and recording of permanent development restrictions on those portions, along with design and construction of stormwater maintenance facilities based on water management district standards to ensure flood storage capacity.

Permits to be required in connection with the property, as stated in the agreement, include major development order approval, PUD overlay approval, PUD Order approval, building permits, right-of-way agreements, and Northwest Florida Water Management District permits (for wetlands enhancements.)

Planning Commission Chairman Teddy Stewart asked Bob Baronti, county project manager for the application, if the questions that had been brought up at the last planning commission meeting at which the property was discussed had all been addressed in the developer agreement. Baronti responded in the affirmative, that it was his belief that all the concerns brought up had been addressed in the document. He added that there were no outstanding comments from the state following the transmittal of the amendment.

Baronti said of the developer agreement, “It’ll be recorded as a stand-along document.”

On behalf of the South Walton Community Council (SWCC), Fred Tricker raised a number of concerns, one being the 10-year term of the agreement, which he found to be short. He also questioned whether housing priced in the $250,000 range could be considered affordable and asked if the $250,000 price range would be enforceable.

Walton County Attorney Sidney Noyes responded that the latter was something the county would have to monitor.

Tricker said he had understood that the developer would be extending not only Nellie Road, as stated in the agreement, but also Veterans Road.

He questioned the “reasonable efforts,” required per the agreement, to obtain permits to enhance wetlands on the development property and create lakes on the property, as not being “hard and fast” language. Tricker had a similar concern about the agreement language that “reasonable efforts” would be taken for transfer of density out of the floodplain portions of the property. “Isn’t that a requirement?” he asked.

Scott Jenkins, an engineer representing the developer, responded that plans were to extend both Nellie Drive and Veterans Road all the way to Chat Holley Road.

Applicant Charles Forman spoke about how he had arrived at the $250,000 per unit price range, explaining that he had calculated that dual income working spouses would qualify for a 100 percent mortgage in this range. He said the goal was to provide homes for a couple of hundred working families close to their jobs south of the bay.

Regarding the lakes and stormwater, Forman pledged that the developers would try to get as much flood storage capacity as possible, but that doing so would be dependent on what the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would permit.

Planning Commissioner Barbara Brooke echoed Tricker’s sentiments about the vagueness of the “reasonable efforts” language in the agreement. “They ought to be held to it,” she said. She commented that she was not comfortable with the agreement.

Kristen Shell, county planning manager, commented that a developer agreement is a requirement in order for density to be increased in the floodplain. She added that the creation of lakes and storage would be above and beyond the county requirements.

Stewart questioned whether the developers would be required to build the lakes. Jenkins answered no.

Planning Commissioner Mike Barker asked if the 10-year term of the agreement could be lengthened. Melissa Ward, a representative for the applicants, responded that it could be as long as 30 years but that the applicants had assumed that the county would prefer the 10-year term.

Stewart asked what would happen in 10 years if the property were not fully developed. Ward responded that, if this occurred and the development order expired, the applicants would have to go through the approval process all over again.

Noyes suggested setting a date for commencement of construction, but Forman cautioned that it might be eight months before an application could be submitted to DEP. He added that changes taking place in the county such as putting zoning in place could also cause delay.

Noyes agreed to work with the BCC and clear up the language so that the intent (for the start of the project not to be delayed unreasonably) is met.

A motion for approval of the agreement by Planning Commissioner Lee Perry carried in a 5-1 vote, with Brooke voting no.

The agreement may be viewed online at: https://tinyurl.com/y3ouwk7t .

Also approved in a 5-1 vote was the Forman LSA as supplemented by the developer’s agreement.

Other approvals

Other approvals at the March 14 meeting included the following: the Christ the King Episcopal Church Education building, a land use category change from Conservation Residential 2:1 to Institutional on 9.79 acres located one-half mile north of the U.S. 98/CR-393 intersection on the west side of CR-393, with plans for the Church to expand the Montessori School on the property; the Miramar Amalfi Regional Beach Access Rezoning, providing for a change in zoning from Coastal Center to Parks & Recreation on 2.1 acres located due south of the CR-2378/Alamo Street intersection in Miramar Beach, property that is to house a new regional public beach access; the Southeast Land Partners, L.L.C., Small Scale Amendment, consisting of a land use change from Rural Village to General Commercial and zoning district change from Rural Village to General Commercial on 3.57 acres one-quarter mile north of the U.S. 331 North/Jolly Bay Road intersection, on the east side; Southeast Storage, consisting of a three-story, 48,375-square-foot building with 355 self-storage units on the 4.01-acre site already containing mini-warehouses and located one-half mile east of the Holiday Road/U.S. 98 intersection on the north side of the highway in Miramar Beach; and Camp Creek Residential, consisting of 262 single-family lots on 330.81 acres on the west side of U.S. 98, north of WaterSound Parkway.

Continued items, county approval process

Continued to the April 11 Walton County Planning Commission meeting were the Golf Garden LSA and the DeFrancesch Abandonment.

Votes on land use proposals and amendments coming before the Walton County Planning Commission are presented as recommendations to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, which has responsibility for final decisions on these items in public session.