TRC advances subdivision, rezonings, Dollar General, abandonment, cell tower, and plat request

LOCATION MAP for the two-lot 56 Lee Place Subdivision (Project MIN24-000006), which has been approved for the Walton County planning director’s determination on issuance of a development order.

By DOTTY NIST

The Walton County Technical Review Committee (TRC) has moved forward a two-lot subdivision, two rezonings, a Dollar General and related abandonment, a proposed cell tower, and a plat request.

The decisions took place at the TRC’s March 20 regular meeting at Freeport Commons.

Lee Place requests

The location for several requests was Lee Place, east of Robert Ellis Street in Seagrove.

The first of those was 56 Lee Place Subdivision, a minor development application for two lots on one-half acre at 56 Lee Place. The property is in a Residential future land use area and a zoning district of Low Density Residential four units per one acre. The property is currently wooded and undeveloped.

Stephen and Michelle Baker are the applicants.

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, engineer Dean Burgis commented that this is a two-lot subdivision, which is not common, and not a lot split. He said that when a subdivision is developed there is an opportunity to build an 800-square-foot cottage as an accessory dwelling that cannot be a short-term rental. He did not know whether that opportunity would be exercised on the two lots.

Burgis explained that, while the applicants had put a Katrina cottage on their personal property, nothing like that was planned for the two lots. He said the lots would be listed and sold and that he would expect nice homes to be built on them, particularly since they are near the beach.

Burgis said the homes would be on public water and sewer and would have proper stormwater drainage (single-family stormwater plans) in accordance with the Walton County Land Development Code (LDC).

Several neighbors of the property who were in attendance spoke of their concerns with the project.

Lee Place resident Ashley Dismukes said he was not opposed but warned that if lots on the street continued to be split up, it would lead to mini-hotels all along the street. He said he would be opposed to the latter.

A representative of homeowners’ association for the adjacent Cassine Village brought up other concerns, including that the stormwater system for Cassine Village could be affected/strained by the development of the two lots, with the neighborhood having experienced water runoff in the past.

The HOA representative spoke of conflicts with one of the property owners and urged against approval of the application due to it not being “in the best interest of the neighborhood.”

Lee Place property owner John Gary cautioned that the development would not be an improvement to the neighborhood but would represent “a step backwards.”

Attorney Stephen Tatum responded to comments by the neighbors, saying that the applicants want to be good neighbors, and adding that the homes would be valued at $1 million and up. He said many lots in the neighborhood of the same size are being built on. He pledged that stormwater management for the lots would be designed to handle their stormwater so that it would not impact Cassine Village.

Rosanna Edwards of Walton County Planning and Development Services, who had introduced the project, recommended moving it forward for the planning director’s consideration for development order issuance, conditioned on all outstanding reviewer comments being addressed. She encouraged ongoing dialog between the applicants and the neighbors, as well.

Edwards’s recommendation was approved.

The next request, 135 Lee Place Rezoning, was on behalf of Sand Juan Dollars, L.L.C., and would consist of a zoning district change from Residential Preservation to Neighborhood Infill or a lesser district, on 0.41 acre at 135 Lee Place. The property is in a Residential future land use district.

Introducing the request. Stephen Schoen of Walton County Planning and Development Services said there would be no wetlands or floodplain impacts associated with the request but that there would need to be attention at the development order stage to the northern boundary that is adjacent to state forest property.

Speaking for the applicants, Dean Burgis said he had walked the site and found it to be all uplands. He did not anticipate any environmental concerns, adding that the request was in compliance with LDC and Walton County Comprehensive Plan (CP) requirements.

Renee Bradley of Walton County Planning and Development Services, acting TRC chair, noted that the rezoning request would require review by the Walton County Planning Commission and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), where there would be opportunity for public comment.

John Gary asked about impacts of the rezoning on vehicular and pedestrian traffic. He noted that Lee Place is a dead-end street with a large amount of traffic.

Bradley replied that this would be one of the things to be reviewed, essentially, at the development order application stage. What is currently being requested, she explained, would provide for a slight increase in density and would allow for the property owners to split the property into lots. She said that her understanding was that the most they would be able to get on the property with the rezoning would be two units, based on a limit of four units per acre.

The committee members voted to move the request forward to the next step, planning commission review, on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

The third and final request involving Lee Place was the Sunday Rezoning presented on behalf of Stephen and Michelle Baker.

This request would provide for a change from Residential Preservation to Low Density Residential four units per acre or lesser district on 0.51 acre on the north side of Lee Place, 0.06 mile east of the Robert Ellis Drive/Lee Place intersection.

Introducing the request, Stephen Schoen said there did not appear to be any environmentally-sensitive areas on the property.

Speaking for the applicants, Dean Burgis noted that the zoning district being requested would only allow for two units on the property.

The committee members voted to advance this zoning request, as well, to the next step of planning commission review, subject to any remaining reviewer comments being addressed.

Gaskin Dollar General requests

Two agenda items were related to a Dollar General proposed for the northeast corner of the State Hwy. 83/County Hwy. 181 East intersection in Gaskin. Dennis Phillips is the applicant for the two requests.

The first proposal was for the store itself, which is planned to be 10,640 square feet on 1.07 acres. This is classified as a minor development request.

The property is in a Commercial future land use area and a General Commercial zoning district.

Introducing the project, Rosanna Edwards explained that it had been continued from the Feb. 21 TRC meeting after it was realized that there was an acreage discrepancy and that it included a portion of the Gaskin Block E right-of-way. She said there were few reviewer comments remaining to be addressed—but that the project would depend on approval of an abandonment requested for the right-of-way portion.

Bradley noted that the abandonment request would be required to go before the planning commission and the BCC.

The committee members approved advancement of the project to the planning director’s consideration for development order issuance. This was on the condition of the success of the abandonment request and subject to any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

The abandonment request was presented next, applying to the public roadway on a 0.31-acre portion of Block E of the map of Gaskin (parcel number 33-6N-19-22010-00E-0080).

The property is in a Commercial future land use area and a General Commercial zoning district.

The committee members voted to advance the proposed abandonment to the next step, planning commission review, subject to clarification of the exact location of the abandonment area and any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Inlet Beach COW

Bob Baronti of Walton County Planning and Development Services introduced Inlet Beach COW (cell on wheels), a minor development proposal for a temporary cell tower on one-half acre at 9971 CR-30A East in Inlet Beach.

The request was on behalf of Anacoco Towers, L.L.C., and the property is in a Public Facilities land use area and an Institutional zoning district.

Baronti said approval of the request would allow the tower to remain for one year and that renewal after that time would be at the direction of the planning director.

He further explained that there was a separate minor development proposal for a permanent tower and an accompanying variance request.

Mike Crane of Verizon Wireless spoke on behalf of the applicants. He told the committee members that the temporary tower was being proposed in order to continue coverage in the area pending work on a permanent tower location.

In response to technical questions brought up in public comment, Crane said the temporary tower is designed to collapse on itself if it were to fall and that no homes in the vicinity would be affected in that event.

The committee members voted to move the request to the planning director’s determination on issuance of a development order, with the order to remain valid for one year from date of issuance and be subject to renewal at the director’s discretion.

Sawgrass Reserve Plat

Also moved forward to the next step in the approval process, a final determination by the BCC, was the Sawgrass Reserve Plat, consisting of the platting of 90 townhome units on 9.21 acres located 1.29 miles north of the U.S. 98/J.D. Miller Road intersection in Santa Rosa Beach.

Continued items

Two agenda items were continued by advance request. The Garden at Peach Creek and the Box Small Scale Amendment (SSA) with Rezoning were continued to the April 3 TRC meeting. The Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club Deck Expansion was continued to the April 17 TRC meeting.

Another agenda item, the Royal Palms Subdivision Plat, was also continued to the April 17 TRC meeting after some discussion.