TRC approves duplex development, preschool, and deck expansion, advances other projects

By DOTTY NIST

The Walton County Technical Review Committee (TRC) has approved a 15-unit duplex project east of East Hewett Road, additional classrooms for a Chat Holley Road preschool, and an expansion of the deck at the Whale’s Tail restaurant in Miramar Beach.

The committee members also voted to advance in the county review/approval process major development proposals for a Walmart grocery store in southeastern Walton County, a 120-lot subdivision and an RV park north of DeFuniak Springs, and 50,000 square feet of warehouse space on SR-20 east of Freeport.

The actions took place at the TRC’s March 15 regular meeting at Freeport Commons.

Alderberry Dunes

Alderberry Dunes was a request by Finno-Celtic Land, L.L.C., for approval to develop 15 single-family duplex units and infrastructure on 8.05 acres on the east side of Alderberry Road, one-half mile east of East Hewett Road, north of U.S. 98 in Santa Rosa Beach.

The property is in a Conservation Residential future land use area and a Conservation Residential 2:1 (two units per one acre) zoning district. It is currently vacant and mostly wooded, according to the project staff report.

Introducing the project, Tim Brown of Walton County Planning and Development Services indicated that planning, Walton County Public Works, and environmental reviewer comments remained outstanding.

Project plans showed a roadway labeled Berrydune Drive, an extension of Alderberry Road running east and west across the property, fronted by lots on both sides, with the roadway featuring a cul-de-sac on its eastern end.

Public works comments stated the following: “The plans indicate that this property has 33 feet of the 66 foot right-of-way located along the southern boundary of the property. The County currently has a project under design for a connector roadway along that same 66 foot right-of-way that traverses from Goldsby Road to East Hewett Road. An extension of that roadway to the east has been identified in the County’s adopted Long Range Transportation Plan. Please revise the plans to center the proposed Alderberry roadway extension within the 66-foot right-of-way to align with the roadway currently under design. The roadway extension can stub out just past any proposed subdivision internal roadway to access the proposed lots. The County can tie into the Alderberry roadway extension at a future date.”

Engineer Christy Jones was present on behalf of the applicants. She told the committee that the applicants had addressed the public works comments with regard to modifying the roadway. She also pledged to address the planning and environmental comments (which Brown deemed as minor) with a resubmittal.

Brown brought up the fact that the plans showed zero lot lines, which is not allowed by county code. This was for areas in the middle between the two units of the duplexes.

Renee Bradley of Walton County Planning and Development Services, who was serving as acting TRC chair, explained in response to a public comment question that, due to the latter, options for the applicants would include either applying for a plat similar to a condominium plat for the duplexes or keeping ownership of both of the two parts of each of the duplex units under the same ownership.

The committee members voted to move the proposal forward to development order issuance on the condition of the remaining reviewer comments being addressed.

Tall Pines Preschool

Also approved to advance to the development order stage was the Tall Pines Preschool, a request on behalf of Tall Pines Preschool to add two modular classrooms and a parking area on the 2.47-acre preschool property at 1710 Chat Holley Road in Santa Rosa Beach.

The approval was conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Whale’s Tail Deck Expansion

The other project conditionally approved to move forward to development order issuance was another addition, the Whale’s Tail Deck Expansion, a request by property owner Seascape Resorts, Inc.

This provided for a 2,414-square-foot addition to the deck at the beachfront Whale Tail restaurant, which is located at 1373 Scenic Gulf Drive in Miramar Beach. The existing deck area is 2,362 square feet, according to the project staff report.

The expansion project will be required to comply with White Sands Protection Zone requirements and Wildlife Conservation Zone lighting requirements. Coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also be required to avoid any impacts on endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse habitat.

Kelly Schultz of Walton County Planning and Development Services introduced the project. She told the committee members that South Walton Utility Company had indicated that the applicants were doing what was needed to resolve reviewer comments calling for an upgrade of the restaurant grease trap and confirmation that the sewer grinder station for the restaurant still meet requirements.

The approval was conditioned on any remaining reviewer comments being addressed.

Highway 83 Subdivision

Highway 83 Subdivision was the first of the major development projects taken up at the meeting and received conditional approval to advance in the county review/approval process, as did the other three major projects.

The subdivision is proposed to consist of 120 single-family lots plus 13,200 square feet of clubhouse and pool amenities. The location is 45.47 acres on the east side of SR-83 (Hwy.83), south of Institution Road, 1,250 feet south of the WWII Veterans Lane Intersection, north of DeFuniak Springs.

The property is in a Residential future land use area and an Urban Residential zoning district. Hwy 83 Property, L.L.C., is the project applicant.

No driveways will be permitted along SR-83.

The site includes 3.63 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, according to the project staff report, 0.97 acre of that being wetlands and 2.66 acres being secondary wetland buffer.

Proposed wetland impacts for the project total 0.29 acre plus 0.52 acre of secondary buffer impacts. These impacts will require that a state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit be obtained.

DeFuniak Springs is to provide water and sewer.

A Walton County Public Works recommendation was for the project to include a northbound right turn lane at one of the two proposed access connections with SR-83.

The proposed stormwater management system consists of three interconnected wet ponds, with design done to prevent overtopping of the pond banks for a 100-year storm event.

Traffic concurrency is deemed to be met with the project.

Present for the applicants, engineer Sean Humphrey told the committee that the applicants had responded to reviewer comments from Argyle Volunteer Fire and were working to get approval on the responses.

The committee members voted to advance the project to the next step, which is to be a hearing before the Walton County Planning Commission. This was conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Serenity Luxury RV Park

Another major development project proposed north of DeFuniak Springs was Serenity Luxury RV Park.

This was a request by Texflo Real Estate Investments, L.L.C., to develop 77 high-end RV pads and 1,612 square feet of office space, laundry, restrooms, and infrastructure on 11.73 acres on the west side of SR-83, approximately 01.3 miles north of Sunrise Road.

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

Bradley spoke to the need for a permit to be obtained for clearing that had been taking place on the property. John Bagby, general contractor for the site, pledged to put in the application right away.

Plans are for the property to be served by public water and septic systems, with applications for the septic systems to be submitted to the Walton County Health Department.

A 20-foot-wide landscape buffer will be required across the length of the property on the north side, according to the project staff report. An archaeological survey will also be required since the environmental assessment indicates a previously-recorded archaeological site in the vicinity of the property, which may mandate a 50-foot buffer per the Walton County Comprehensive Plan (CP).

The committee members voted to advance the RV park proposal in the process conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed, together with the property clearing issue. A planning commission hearing will be the next step for the project.

Walmart Neighborhood Market #8861

Also advancing to its next steps, Walton County Design Review Board and planning commission, will be Walmart Neighborhood Market #8861, a 60,724-square-foot grocery store proposed for the north side of U.S. 98 and the east side of M.C. Davis Boulevard near Dune Lakes Elementary School.

Walmart Stores East are the applicants, and the 16.40-acre project site is in a Commercial future land use area and a General Commercial zoning district.

Representatives for the applicants brought up a code requirement for a sidewalk along U.S. 98, noting that the adjacent convenience store to the west had done a buy-out for their sidewalk, adding that there are wetlands between the project site and the convenience store. They explained that a sidewalk put in along U.S. 98 on the subject property “would not connect to anywhere.”

They also noted that the plans show a proposed sidewalk connecting to the entrance road to the property and running through the project, then back to U.S. 98 via M.C. Davis Boulevard, providing a pedestrian connection through the project and touching U.S. 98 on both sides.

The representatives indicated willingness to apply for a sidewalk buy-out for the sidewalk along U.S. 98.

It was clarified that this would not be one of the super-sized Walmart food stores but would be a normal grocery store size.

The vote to advance the project in the process was conditioned on any outstanding review comments being addressed.

Coastal Commerce Center

Coastal Commerce Center, the only remaining major development proposal taken up at the meeting, would consist of 50,000 square feet of warehouses on 5.03 acres on the south side of SR20, across the highway from Bunny Lane, east of Freeport. The location is 2.9 miles east of U.S. 331.

The proposal is on behalf of ECC Resources, L.L.C., and the property is in an Extractive Uses future land use area and a Light Industrial zoning district.

Five 10,000-square-foot warehouse/storage buildings are planned, plus some office buildings and infrastructure.

Representing the applicants, engineer Michelle Baker agreed to increase a 15-foot buffer shown on the plans on the western edge of the property to 25 feet next to planned residential (Harvest Creek Planned Unit Development), or alternatively, provide a screen wall for buffering.

The committee members voted to move the proposal forward to planning commission conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied.

Plat requests

Two plat requests on the meeting agenda were also advanced in the process, to be presented to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in public session for final determinations.

The first of these was the Lot 13, Park District at WaterColor Replat, consisting of the replatting of the 0.16-acre lot located on the south side of Climbing Rose Way, 0.1 mile west of West Lake Forest Drive in the WaterColor subdivision.

The replat is to remove a wetland line from the original plat, with an environmental letter having been provided by the applicants showing no wetlands present on the site.

The West Gove Avenue II Replat was a request to replat two lots on 0.22 acre at 126 West Grove Avenue in Seagrove in order to change lot orientation from east-west to north-south.

The advancement of the plat requests to BCC review was conditioned on any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

Continued and tabled agenda items

Continued to the April 5 TRC meeting by advance request were the following agenda items: 30A Gym and Rehabilitation and the Flynn Small Scale Amendment (SSA) with Rezoning.

Continued to the April 19 TRC meeting by advance request was the EMF Freeport Conceptual PUD.

The following four agenda items were tabled by advance request: 5591 Laurel Hill Cell Tower, 5592 DeFuniak Springs Cell Tower, 5600 Fish Pond Cell Tower, and Chipotle Miramar Beach.