Land use Proposals Approved, Amendment for Cassine Station Building Tabled

WALTON COUNTY PLANNING has indicated that the use of this building, in which a sit-down Mexican restaurant has been operating, is now required to return to “take-out only” or office use as the result of the tabling of a previously-proposed amendment. (Photo by Dotty Nist)

The land use portion of the June 20 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting included approvals, continuances and one withdrawal.
The meeting took place at the Walton County Courthouse.
The land use portion began with a report by Mac Carpenter, county planning and development services director, that the applicant for the Cassine Station Planned Unit Development (PUD) Amendment had requested that the item be tabled and had indicated that he did not wish to pursue the amendment.

The proposed amendment had attracted opposition when reviewed by the Walton County Planning Commission on May 11. It was a request by applicant Nissim Afuta to convert office space to 1,170 square feet of sit-down restaurant for a building in front of the Cassine property on CR-30A in Seagrove, which contains several residential developments. Discussion at the planning commission meeting had indicated that the building was currently being used as a full-service Mexican restaurant, while the original PUD for the development had provided for it to be used as a sales office for homes and condominiums in the vicinity. At the May 11 meeting, Carpenter had explained that the use of the building for office and/or take-out food sales had been approved by the county through a Certificate of Land Use Compliance.
Bob Baronti of Walton County Planning had explained that the proposed amendment would, if approved, remedy existing code violations associated with the use of the building.

An attorney representing Cassine homeowners and several individual homeowners had spoken in opposition to the amendment, with the attorney arguing that any later use varying from the office use approved as part of the PUD represented a violation. Neighbors had complained of negative impacts from the business and another one just to the east under the same ownership, some of those involving roads being blocked, parking problems, and left garbage sitting out.

The planning commission had approved a motion for denial of the amendment with all aye votes. At the June 20 county commission meeting, the county commissioners voted to approve the tabling of the amendment as requested by the applicant.

Approved at the June 20 BCC meeting was the Pathways at WaterSound Phase I plat application, providing for the platting of 48 single-family lots on 20.69 acres that are part of the WaterSound Origins development, located three-quarters miles north of U.S. 98 on North WaterSound Parkway.
Also approved was Meyer’s Park, a 7,000-square-foot neighborhood commercial development on a 9.75-acre site located one-half mile north of the U.S. 98/CR-393 intersection on the west side of CR-393, across from the South Walton Mosquito Control District Office.
In addition, the commissioners approved an amendment requested by Seascape Resorts providing that the final date for both the build out and the expiration of the Seascape Resort Development of Regional Impact (DRI) would be Sept. 25, 2031. The amendment was based on a legal opinion provided in a letter dated April 19, 2017 by Mark Davis, county attorney at that time.

The commissioners were presented with requests to continue two agenda items, Lot 16 South Walton Commerce Park, and Azzurro Condominum, to the Aug. 8 BCC regular meeting. These requests to continue were approved.
Continued to July 11 was the St. Clair Right-of-Way Abandonment request, which would provide for the abandonment of a portion of the Ricker Avenue right-of-way. The request was due to a home having been built in 1994, plus a fence, extending into that right-of-way. Sidney Noyes, interim county attorney, stated that a license agreement had been prepared as an alternative to abandoning the right-of-way. She suggested continuing the request to the July 11 BCC meeting in order to allow time for the public to review the agreement and comment if they so desired. The continuance was approved by the BCC.
Contacted on June 26, Carpenter commented in reference to the Cassine Station Planned Unit Development (PUD) Amendment that the proposed amendment had been part of a remedy for code violations associated with the building where the Mexican restaurant has been operating. He indicated that, with the tabling of the amendment, the use of the building was required to either return to “take out only” restaurant use or office use as previously approved—and that parking requirements associated with the previously-approved use would apply.