Officials Approve Hotel, Kiosk Development, Other Proposals

By DOTTY NIST

Approved at a BCC special meeting on June 13 at the South Walton Annex were a 125-room hotel, a development featuring kiosks to serve pedestrian traffic, warehouse projects, and other proposals.
Present at the special meeting for planning items were District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman, County Commission Chairman Cecilia Jones, District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander, and District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson. District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper was not in attendance.
The meeting began with an announcement by Mac Carpenter, Walton County planning and development services director, that planner Kristen Shell had been appointed the previous day as Walton County planning manager. This was the position that Carpenter had held prior to being selected as planning director in April.

Shell was recognized by the commissioners for her hard work with the ongoing effort to update the Walton County Land Development Code and Comprehensive Plan, which she is heading up for the county in cooperation with consultants the Matrix Design Group. Representing applicant Emerald Hospitality, engineer Scott Jenkins presented plans for Miramar Inn and Suites, a 125-unit hotel with pool amenity proposed for the south side of U.S. 98 west of Ellis Road and east of Driftwood Road in Miramar Beach.

Walton County Senior Planner Tim Brown noted that the project met traffic concurrency due to the six-laning U.S. 98 project in that area. Therefore no proportionate fair share fee was required. Jenkins discussed stormwater detention ponds associated with the site plan and reported that, as a result of discussions with neighbors of the project, the applicant had agreed to put up fencing on the south and west boundaries of the site. A drainage easement requested by Walton County Public Works was also agreed to. The hotel proposal was approved in a 4-0 vote.

Also proposed for the Miramar Beach area was Jamira Commercial, a 2,370-square-foot retail/restaurant development to be located on the north side of Scenic Gulf Drive on a half-acre site across from the Costa del Sol condominiums. Representing applicant Jamira Enterprises, engineer Tracy Jernigan of JP Engineering presented plans for the project. He told the commissioners that this would be a four-building development with three of the buildings split into vendor kiosks geared to serving the pedestrian traffic along Scenic Gulf Drive. He indicated that the fourth building is to be an open-air pavilion. Jernigan described the location as on the north side of Scenic Gulf Drive and east of Pompano Joe’s restaurant. There would be no sit-down restaurants with the proposed development, he indicated. He said staying open only until 9 or 10 p.m. was envisioned for the businesses. Jernigan said that the applicant did not feel there would be a direct line of sight from the site to the beach but that compliance with Walton County’s Wildlife Lighting Ordinance for lighting on the site had been agreed to. The development was approved in a 4-0 vote with conditions recommended by staff, including compliance with the lighting ordinance as discussed.

Proposed by Beverly and John St. Clair was the St. Clair Right-of-Way Abandonment, applying to a portion of the Ricker Avenue right-of-way in the Daughette Subdivision. The applicants had been unable to get clear title to a home under their ownership but not constructed by them at 359 Little Canal Drive. The title issue was due to the home having been built in 1994 extending into the right-of-way by 2.3 feet. With an existing fence next to the home, the intrusion into the right-of way was seven feet of the 50-foot right-of-way. The applicants were not present, and the commissioners voted to postpone the request to their June 20 regular meeting in order for the Office of the County Attorney to research the possibility of a license agreement for the encroachment rather than abandonment in order to address the title issue.

Other approvals at the June 13 meeting included the following: Seaside Town Center 2 Replat, a replat of four lots into two lots within the Seaside Town Center plat; Lots 18, 19, and 20 South Walton Commerce Park, consisting of a 18,187-square-foot office warehouse development on a 1.447-acre site at the northeast dead end of Serenoa Road in the southeastern Walton County commerce park; Lot 2, Coastal Business Center, a 7,000-square-foot warehouse building proposed for a 0.52-acre site on the north side of Commercial Parkway, east of Goldsby Road in Santa Rosa Beach; and the Emerald Coast Business Center Lot 10 Amendment, providing for the elimination of the proportionate fair share payment in connection with the development order which was approved by the BCC in June 2016. Based on updated traffic capacity calculations in connection with the U.S. 98 six-laning project in the area, the associated calculation for proportionate fair share was reduced from $36,840 to $0. Along with the St. Clair Right-of-Way Abandonment, three other agenda items were continued. These were Pathways at WaterSound Phase 1, continued to the June 20 BCC meeting, Gulf Atlantic Electric Warehouse, continued to the July 25 BCC meeting, and the Galley Estates Plat, continued to the July 11 BCC meeting.