TRC advances 222-acre PUD east of Freeport, OKs Driftwood and Kaiya homes and lots, tennis center expansion


A 222-acre planned unit development (PUD) proposed for SR-20 east of Freeport will advance in Walton County’s review and approval process, and new residential units in Driftwood Estates and in the Kaiya development will be moving forward to the development order stage with conditions, as will the expansion of a tennis center at Alys Beach, a plumbing company building, and a boat and RV storage pad and easement on CR-3280.

This is by action of the Walton County Technical Review Committee (TRC) at its March 1 regular meeting at Freeport Commons.

Quail Run Conceptual PUD

Quail Run Conceptual Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a request on behalf of Hathaway Real Estate Investments, L.L.C., for approval of a PUD conceptual master plan and PUD overlay district consisting of 408 single-family lots, two 40,000-square-foot commercial buildings, and infrastructure on 222 acres on the north side of SR-20, approximately 6.45 miles east of U.S. 331.

The property is in a Rural Residential future land use area and a Rural Village zoning district. 

Introducing the project, Stephen Schoen of Walton County Planning and Development Services noted that the plans include a public life safety outparcel and multiple trail systems on the property.

Tina Ekblad, director of planning with Stearns Weaver Miller, P.A., spoke on behalf of the applicants. She confirmed that they did have an agreement in place with the city of Freeport to extend water and sewer utilities six miles to the property in conjunction with the development. She explained that, per the agreement, the applicants would be providing the funding mechanism for the utility extension and that the city would be undertaking the construction.

“So,” Ekblad said, “as a result, if this project were to be approved, all units would be on central water and sewer, which we believe is a benefit not only to the project but also to the other properties in this area along Hwy. 20.”

Ekblad noted that the applicants were not asking for a sidewalk buy-out and indicated that sidewalks would be shown on the detailed plans to be submitted within the next 30 to 45 days.

The project staff report lists four deviations requested with the PUD, including reduced rear and side yard setbacks for single-family detached lots, increased in allowable commercial building size, reduced rear yard setbacks for the commercial uses, and reduced review for detailed PUD approval—to include TRC approval only.

Walton County Public Works has requested that the applicants provide a turn-lane warrant analysis for intersections along SR-20 in the project area.

Engineering reviewer comments in the staff report indicated that a state Department of Transportation (DOT) connection permit to SR-20 would be required for the project.

Ekblad noted that representatives of the applicants had met with DOT the previous day and pledged that minutes from that meeting would be provided to planning staff as soon as possible.

The staff report indicated that planning staff believe that consistency with the Walton County Land Development Code (LDC) and Comprehensive Plan (CP) will be accomplished with the proposal.

The committee members voted to move this major proposal forward to the next step in the major development review process, a hearing before the Walton County Planning Commission. The vote was conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

Driftwood Shores

The Driftwood Shores single-family lot proposal generated a great deal of comment from attendees at the meeting. This was a request on behalf of Carrot Top Development, L.L.C., consisting of six single-family lots on 2.75 acres approximately 552 feet of South Harborview Road on the west side of Driftwood Point Road.

The property is in a Mixed Use future land use area and a Coastal Center zoning district.

The project had been continued from the previous TRC meeting to allow time for the applicants to hold a meeting with members of the community.

Mac Carpenter, TRC chairman and Walton County planning and development services director, thanked the applicants for doing the community meeting. He noted that the applicants were not asking for any deviations from the code with the project.

Bill Westendorf, a Driftwood resident and board member of the homeowners’ association for Greater Driftwood, requested that the committee require that this development maintain a 35 to 40 foot spacing between the homes to ensure consistency with existing homes along the loop of Drfitwood Estates where the proposed homes are to be located.

Driftwood Point Road resident Liz King had similar technical concerns, commenting that the proposed lots would be approximately 19 percent narrower than existing lots on the other side of the street. “I think that this…is going to materially affect the look of this, this family neighborhood,” she said.

King also voiced concern that the homes would be used as short-term rentals and that the impacts of these rentals would be detrimental to the existing quiet neighborhood.

Carpenter recognized the latter concerns and brought up the short-term rental ordinance recently approved by Walton County to regulate and manage short-term rentals, with education of renters of short-term accommodations to play a big role, along with adding county staff to enforce parking rules. He explained that pre-emption by the state does not allow for short-term rentals to be prohibited by local governments. However he was hopeful that implementation of the new county ordinance would result in big improvements for everyone, including short-term rental guests.

The project staff report indicated that planning staff believed consistency with the CP and LDC would be accomplished with the proposal.

After some additional public comments and discussion, the committee approved the minor development project to move forward to development order issuance on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Kaiya Phase 3 Roadway

Also garnering approval was another minor residential project labeled Kaiya Phase 3 Roadway.

This request on behalf of SBG-PR, L.L.C., consisted of six single-family homes, nine multi-family units, and infrastructure on 2.14 acres north of CR-30 and east of Watersound Parkway within the southeastern Walton County Kaiya development. The project is to include construction of a roadway by the applicants at the location of the homes and multi-family units.

The property is in a Mixed Use future land use area and a Traditional Neighborhood Development zoning district.

The committee approved the proposal to advance to the development order stage on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Tennis center expansion at Alys Beach

Alys Beach Block X was a request to expand a tennis center within the southeastern Walton County development, the project location being the east side of North Castle Harbour Drive, north of Nonesuch Way.

This request by Alys Beach developer EBSCO Gulf Coast Development, Inc., consisted of two additional tennis courts, three pickleball courts, restrooms, and a viewing stand on a 5.31-acre site.

This minor development request was approved to move forward on the condition of any outstanding comments being addressed, along with approval of South Walton Fire District Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez.

Beach to Bay Plumbing

Beach to Bay Plumbing was a request on behalf of Steve and Doris Davis to construct a 2,000-square -foot commercial plumbing company building on 0.24 acre on the east side of Bay Grove Road, approximately 0.23 mile from U.S. 331, south of Freeport.

The property is Lot 7 of Bay Grove Office Park Phase 1.

The committee members approved the project to advance to development order issuance on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being met.

Black Creek RV and Boat Storage

Black Creek RV and Boat Storage was a minor development request on behalf of BC FV, L.L.C. and Hardeman Ventures, L.L.C., consisting of a gravel pad/storage yard for RV and boat storage on three acres off CR-3280 to the south, just east of Happy Hollow Road, south of Freeport. Included with the project is an easement on 0.59 acre extending from the storage pad to CR-3280, with a portion of the easement having an Estate Residential future land use and being in an Estate Residential zoning district.

The property is in an Industrial future land use area and an Industrial and Extractive Uses zoning district.

The request was approved to advance to development order issuance based on any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

Bontemps Interiors

Advancing by committee action to its next step, a Walton County Design Review Board (DRB) hearing, will be another minor development project, Bontemps Interiors. The action was subject to any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

This request on behalf of Angela Bontemps, Inc., consists of 8,414 square feet of commercial and office buildings planned to be constructed in two phases on 0.85 acre, vacant and wooded, on the south side of U.S. 98, east of Sugar Drive and west of Thompson Road in Santa Rosa Beach.

The property is in a Mixed Use future land use area and a Village Mixed Use zoning district.

In response to a review comment, project representative/engineer Curtis Smith agreed that a cross access easement would be provided for the property to the west with the owner of that property named in the agreement. He noted that technically there already existed a cross access agreement all the way from east to west on the property. He said the driveways for the project would come off the existing turn lane for Thompson Road.

Smith indicated that this is an existing business in south Walton County that wishes to locate in a new facility.

Smith explained that plans were for commercial buildings on the eastern portion of site to be phase one and the office building to be phase two.

DRB approval is required due to the project location on the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor, with no requirement for other county board review on the project.

Saltwater Replat

An additional request, the Saltwater Replat, will advance to final consideration by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) as a result of committee action.

This plat request consists of the redrawing of the lot line between two lots located between CR-395 and Saltwater Lane on the north side of CR-30A, on 5.77 acres just south of Regions Bank in Seagrove.

The advancement of the request was conditioned on one outstanding issue being addressed, that of an open Walton County Code Compliance case involving the requirement for a restoration plan on the subject property.

Project representative/engineer Katie Watson noted that the restoration plan had just been approved. It was agreed that the replatting item would not go before the BCC until the required plantings for the restoration plan were completed.

Continued and tabled items

Continued to the March 15 TRC meeting by advance request were the Whale’s Tail Deck Expansion, Serenity Luxury RV Park, 5591 Laurel Hill Cell Tower, 5592 DeFuniak Springs Cell Tower, and 5600 Fish Pond Cell Tower. Two other agenda items, 30A Gym and Rehabilitation and Highway 83 Subdivision, were also continued to the March 15 meeting after discussion.

Continued to the April 5 TRC meeting was Bay Grove Lodge & Food Court.

The Overlook at Inlet Beach was tabled.