By DOTTY NIST
The Walton County Planning Commission has voted to recommend proposed amendments to Walton County Land Development Code (LDC) Chapter 5. The board members also voted in favor of a warehouse and office development on two lots in South Walton Commerce Park.
The decisions took place at the planning commission’s March 9 regular meeting at Freeport Commons.
Land Development Code Chapter 5 Text Amendments
Introducing the proposed LDC text amendments, Walton County deputy director of planning and development services Kristen Shell first spoke about those related to LDC Section 5.06.00, Stormwater Management. She noted that with the recent adoption of the Walton County Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance, there had been discussion about the additional impervious area on lots that would be created by the new requirement for additional parking.
Shell indicated that in connection with this, some of the proposed revisions were aimed at making sure that the single-family stormwater requirements that apply in south Walton County would be “commensurate” with the new parking standards that are contained in the short-term rental ordinance.
Turning to proposed revisions related to LDC Section 5.04.00, Transportation Systems, Shell said the changes were of a “clean-up” nature.
“Nothing huge there,” she said, “just some terminology changes that we made in anticipation of a project that we’re working on, which is the Walton County Roadway Characteristics Data Base. We just issued a task order to an engineering firm to complete that project for us, so some of those changes to the functional classification names are related to that project.”
Shell brought to the attention of the board members one change from the original version of the revisions that had previously been brought before the planning commission. This was a maximum impervious surface ratio (ISR) of 0.65 for single-family homes that are required to get a single-family stormwater plan. She clarified that these would be homes on existing lots of record within existing subdivisions, older subdivisions that do not have stormwater management systems. “So, it essentially gives them a max ISR where they didn’t have one before,” she said.
The requirement would not apply to new homes that are part of new developments, Shell clarified, since the new homes would have a maximum ISR related to the stormwater plan for the subdivision.
Planning Commissioner Dean Burgis brought up proposed revisions related to LDC Section 5.00.07, Development in Flood Zones. One of the revisions stated: “Fill placed outside of the building footprint shall be comprised of well-draining soils. Clayey soils that inhibit infiltration rates or impact flood attention are prohibited.”
The prohibition was contained in proposed revisions to LDC Section 5.06.00, Stormwater Management, as well, in connection with single-family lot stormwater requirements for lots not in subdivisions with stormwater plans.
Shell said the revision was aimed at dealing with red clay material being used as fill.
Planning Commission Chairman Lee Perry brought up the fact that there is a range of clay composition in different types of soil.
After some discussion, Burgis suggested changing the language to instead state that material having a permeability lower than what is native to the site would be prohibited (outside the building footprint).
Andrea Ward, project engineer for Walton County, said she thought Burgis’s suggestion would be a good approach.
“What we’re seeing,” she said, “is a lot of red clay coming in for the building footprint, and then it’s being spread out along the properties… it’s ending up in the bay, ending up in stormwater culverts. It’s silting up systems that are existing, and reducing capacities.”
In response to a question, Ward said that clay contained under an impervious surface such as a driveway would not be a problem. However, Perry pointed out that gravel driveways are put in as well.
Shell said it would be possible to extend the prohibition to driveways as well as structures.
She also spoke of the request for proposals (RFP) that would be going out at the request of the Walton County board of County Commissioners (BCC) for Walton County Comprehensive Plan (CP) and LDC changes/updates, a project which would correspond with the state-required Evaluation and Appraisal Report, which will be due in March 2025.
Planning Commissioner Fred Tricker expressed concern that the last time such a project was undertaken, information on the changes had been overwhelming, as most people did not have the time and energy to read through and understand the proposals. He asked if the consultant could instead be asked to look at specific issues, get those “on the table,” and then get them reviewed and approved.
“That’s actually how the RFP is written,” Shell replied. She explained that the RFP that was submitted would be aimed at taking a look at community issues and then evaluating and identifying what problems exist, be it communication, regulations not implementing the community vision, or other challenges.
Turning back to the proposed amendments, the board members voted to recommend approval of the amendments on the condition of the change suggested by Burgis (to prohibit material having a permeability lower than what is native to the site being placed outside the building footprint). The vote yielded all ayes.
The proposals will go before the BCC for final consideration.
Information on the proposed text amendments may be viewed at the link: https://tinyurl.com/mr3cw4ud .
South Walton Commerce Park Lots 5 & 6
The other agenda item heard at the March 9 meeting was South Walton Commerce Park Lots 5 & 6.
This request on behalf of Pompano Gulf View 1, L.L.C. consists of a total of 73,250 square feet of office and warehouse space proposed for 4.56 acres within the South Walton Commerce Park, located on the west side of Serenoa Road, north of U.S. 98 in southeastern Walton County.
Introducing the project, Stephen Schoen of Walton County Planning and Development Services noted that all outstanding reviewer comments had been addressed.
Representing the applicants, engineer Jon Nash stated that the project had been designed according to the LDC and South Walton Commerce Park Planned Unit Development (PUD) requirements.
The board members cast all aye votes to recommend approval of the project.
Continued and removed agenda items
One agenda item, Bristol Planned Unit Development, was continued by advance request to the April 13 planning commission meeting. Another agenda item, Single Family residential Stormwater and Traffic Related Amendments, was removed from the agenda to be brought back at a future meeting.