TRC approves St. Joe commercial building, other requests move forward [PREMIUM]

MAP SHOWING the location of Spec 5, a 17,324-square-foot retail and office building that is to be part of the Watersound commercial area. The commercial building, a minor development, received final county board approval from the Walton County Technical Review Committee on Oct. 5.

By DOTTY NIST

The Walton County Technical Review Committee (TRC) has approved a commercial building proposed for the Watersound commercial area to move to the development order stage and has moved another commercial building proposed for that area forward in the county review process.

The committee members also took up and voted to advance six other requests on their meeting agenda.

This was at the Oct. 5 TRC regular meeting at Freeport Commons.

Origins Spec 5

The committee members conditionally approved to advance to development order a 17,324-square-foot commercial building that is to be part of the 28.73-acre eastern Watersound commercial area. The building location is the southeastern corner of the Watersound Parkway/Origins Main Street.

The St. Joe Company was the project applicant, and the project was proposed as part of the Watersound North Development of Regional Impact (DRI) and the St. Joe Company’s Walton-Bay Sector Plan Detailed Specific Area Plan (DSAP) 1.

The building is to consist of 8,590 square feet of retail space and 8,734 square feet of office space on a 0.32-acre site, according to the project staff report. Also according to the report, the building will be a two-story multi-tenant commercial building “to be leased with office space on the top floor and retail on ground level.”

The project is considered a minor development. The committee’s approval for it to move to development order stage was on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

Origins Spec 6

Origins Spec 6 was a similar commercial building request by the St. Joe Company that is to undergo additional review, since it is located within the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor.

The proposal is for a 19,734-square-foot commercial building on 0.31 acre on the east side of Watersound Parkway and north of U.S. 98. The building is to contain 9,630 square feet of retail space and 10,113 square feet of office space.

Like Spec 5, this commercial building is to be a two-story, multi-tenant building to be leased for office use on the top floor and retail use of the ground floor.

This project was also proposed as part of the Watersound North Development of Regional Impact (DRI) and the St. Joe Company’s Walton-Bay Sector Plan Detailed Specific Area Plan (DSAP) 1.

Like Spec 5, this project is to be located within the 28.73-acre eastern Watersound commercial area.

As a project within the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor, Spec 6 is required to undergo public session review by the Design Review Board (DRB), which ensures compliance with aesthetics-related standards associated with the corridor.

The board members voted to conditionally approve Spec 6, subject to all outstanding reviewer comments being satisfied, and to advance it to the DRB.

The Shoppes @ Inlet Expansion

Also approved to proceed to Design Review Board was another minor development project located on the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor, this one in the Inlet Beach community.

This is The Shoppes @ Inlet Beach Expansion, consisting of the expansion of the existing commercial development with the addition of 68,849 square feet of retail and restaurant space plus 19 townhomes and infrastructure.

The project location is 3.67 acres on the north side of U.S. 98, west of Grande Pointe Boulevard and east of North Walton Lakeshore Drive.

A height of four stories and 43 feet is being proposed for the expansion.

The TRC decision was to move the project forward to DRB on the condition of all outstanding reviewer comments being addressed, with the DRB review is to be the final county board hearing on the expansion project.

Bishop Landing PUD Technical Review

Also coming before the TRC at the Oct. 5 meeting were the detailed/technical plans for the Bishop Landing Planned Unit Development (PUD).

On Sept. 22, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) had approved conceptual plans for his 187-unit residential project proposed for 103.8 acres on the eastern side Bishop Tolbert Road in Santa Rosa Beach. County legal counsel had noted that the plans provided at that time had contained much more detail than most conceptual PUDs.

Planned for Bishop Landing are 84 single-family homes, 103 townhomes, and a community park and pavilion.

Representing applicants BT Florida, L.L.C., engineer Jamie Eubanks described the process for the project as the applicants already having gone through technical review of the plans.

The staff report for the project outlined the process as follows: “This PUD project was initially submitted under project # MAJ21-000030 in conformance with prior PUD applications; the ordinance, conceptual plan, and detailed plans were reviewed simultaneously; TRC conditionally approved all 3 processes at their meeting of 6/18/2022. However, prior to taking the project to the Planning Commission for consideration, department policy for PUD applications changed, causing the conceptual plan and ordinance to require BCC approval before taking the detailed plan to TRC. Consequently, the (Planning Commission) and BCC approved the conceptual plan and ordinance as project # MAJ21-000030, and the applicant was required to submit a new application for the detailed plan, which was done as project # MAJ22-000018. While already approved by TRC, legal staff advised that the detailed plan must go back to the TRC (as a matter of housekeeping). The approvals and comments from the previous TRC approval, as well as any updates, are reflected in the report.”

Also according to the project staff report, a proportionate fair share fee of $177,118 is to be required due to the development not meeting traffic concurrency on U.S. 98.

The report noted that included with the development would be a community center with a pavilion, pool, pickleball courts, a park with garden and dog park, and a trail system.

The report also noted that the Sept. 22 BCC approval had included a deviation providing for a waiver of a code requirement for a commercial use within the part of the site zoned as Small Neighborhood. A wedding venue had been proposed by the applicants to meet this requirement. A reviewer comment on the detailed/technical plans called for an update of site data to account for removal of this part of the plans.

In public comment at the Oct. 5 TRC meeting, Chat Holley Road-area resident Margaret Landry voiced concern about the site being “scraped” in connection with the development and about impacts on stormwater drainage of the latter, together with impervious surfaces associated with structures for the development. She also raised a question about fill dirt being added to the site and wetland impacts.

Eubanks indicated that what had been referred to as scraping would be clearing and grubbing in order to remove organic materials that could cause settling issues for roads and other construction on the site as those materials decay over time. He said this is standard practice and would be limited to parts of the site where construction would take place. He also explained that plans are to place fill dirt on the property but that for any area where fill is placed within the flood zone, compensatory stormwater management and treatment is to be provided.

Eubanks also commented that wetland impacts on the site would be limited to 0.341 acre. This is associated with road access and utility crossings, per previous discussion. Eubanks indicated that off-site mitigation would be provided in connection with these impacts.

He confirmed that the trail system on the property would be open to the public.

The committee members voted to approve the detailed plans to advance to Walton County Planning Commission review on the condition of any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed.

Day LSA

One of two proposed amendments coming before the TRC at the Oct. 5 meeting was the Day Large Scale Amendment. This was a request on behalf of Deep South Engineering Services, L.L.C., for a future land use and zoning change from Large Scale Agriculture to General Agriculture on 236 acres located on the east and west sides of Long Road, approximately one mile from the Long Road/Richardson Road intersection, near Laurel Hill.

The stated purpose for the change was to divide the tract into six parcels of 11 acres and eight parcels of 20 acres “for sale to the public.”

The staff finding on the request was that it would be generally consistent with the Walton County Comprehensive Plan (CP).

According to the project staff report, the amendment would be consistent with CP Policy L-1.2.2, which states that the intent of the proposed classification is “ to support rural development characterized by smaller-scale agricultural activities…”

The policy also states that low-density residential subdivision development is “allowed subject to specific open space/clustering requirements.”

Renee Bradley of Walton County Planning and Development Services, acting TRC chair, commented that the applicants should be aware that going over 20 lots in the General Agriculture category would require a development order application. Walton County Planning Manager Kristen Shell, who introduced the amendment request, confirmed that less than 20 lots were being proposed .

The committee members voted to move the amendment request forward to the next step, review by the Walton County Planning Commission.

Bayport Commercial SSA

The other amendment taken up on the agenda was the Bayport Commercial Small Scale Amendment. This was a request on behalf of DJFO, L.L.C., for a future land use change from Rural Residential to Commercial and a zoning change from Rural Village to General Commercial on 6.3 acres located on CR-3280, approximately four-tenths mile west of U.S. 331, south of Freeport.

On the reason for the proposed change, the staff report advised that the owner is not intending to sell the property at this time, adding that “Pre-application meeting notes for this property indicate the possibility of a mixed-use development, with potential for various commercial uses as well as workforce housing.”

The report provided the staff finding that the amendment is consistent with CP Objective L-1.5 and associated policies applying to appropriate locations for commercial land uses.

“The proposed amendment is appropriate for a range of commercial uses at various scales and intensities compatible with surrounding uses and is located to serve the larger community and traveling public,” according to the report.

The report also indicated that the site contains sufficient land to provide for compatibility standards to be achieved with the change and noted that a portion of the property is adjacent to land classified as Commercial.

Introducing the request, Kristen Shell commented that the site has access both to U.S. 331 and CR-3280 and is within the U.S. 331 Economic Development Corridor Study Area, providing for enhanced consistency with the CP.

Shell noted that a number of issues with the request remained to be addressed, including her recommendation for a review by the Walton County School Board. She was confident that those could be satisfied by the applicants prior to the request moving to a hearing before the planning commission, the next step.

The committee members approved advancing the request as Shell had recommended, with the school board review included. 

SWCP Lot 1 Storage

SWCP Lot 1 Storage was a request by The St. Joe Company for approval to construct a 78,666-square-foot commercial building and infrastructure on a 2.32-acre wooded site at the northwest corner of U.S. 98 and Serenoa Road in southeastern Walton County.

This is to be part of the South Walton Commerce Park development, which was approved in 2004.

The request had come before the TRC as a minor development. Introducing the project, Tim Brown of Walton County Planning and Development Services said he had researched other projects that had been approved in the business park and that those had undergone major project review. He recommended that this also be the process for this project.

Brown indicated that all outstanding reviewer comments were minor and was of the opinion that those could be addressed by the applicants prior to the request moving forward to the next step, DRB, as required due to its location on the U.S. 98 Scenic Corridor.

The committee members approved a motion for the request to proceed under those conditions, per Brown’s recommendations.

Wildwood Village Plat

The only other agenda item coming before the committee at the Oct. 5 meeting was the Wildwood Village Plat, consisting of the platting of 45 lots on 8.95 acres on the north side of Wildwood Trail, approximately 800 feet east of North Orange Street in Inlet Beach. The request follows the BCC’s 2020 approval of the development for this property.

The committee members voted to move the plat request forward to the next step, final consideration by the BCC, on the conditions of any outstanding reviewer comments being addressed and the applicants providing a signed mylar for the plat to be provided to the commissioners at the BCC hearing.

Removed and continued agenda items

One agenda item, the Walton’s Landing Owners Association Maintenance Storage Shed was removed from the agenda.

Continued to the Oct. 19 TRC meeting were the following agenda items: Brizo Subdivision Plat, Clay Garden Cottages, The Landing at Santa Rosa, South Shore Rezoning, and Burnt Pines 414-415.

Continued to the Nov. 2 TRC meeting was Pearl Place Subdivision.

The removal and continuances were by advance request.