A large crowd showed up for Tuesday’s regular meeting of Port St. Joe’s City Commission.

 

 

A large crowd showed up for Tuesday’s regular meeting of Port St. Joe’s City Commission.

Many of those in attendance were present to speak on a zoning change request submitted to the city by Kelli Newman.

The change request would bump a lot that Newman currently along Knowles Ave. from R-1 to R-3, and would allow Newman to build more homes on the parcel then currently allowed.

After the matter had been discussed and approved by the planning board last week, citizens of the area came to the commission meeting to discuss their concerns.

The chief concern from those opposed to the development was traffic, along with unit density and type of housing.

Multiple commissioners stated that they have received calls from concerned citizens regarding the proposed development and asked that the city’s planning consultant, Marina Pennington, and the developer speak to those concerns.

According to Pennington, after hearing the concerns of citizens at the planning board the developer agreed to put restrictions on the lot’s R-3 designation.

A switch from R-1 to R-3 would bump allowable units on the 2.5 acre lot from 12 to 37, but the developer agreed to limit the development to 24 units.

The developer also agreed to limit the height of the development to 35 feet and to maintain a buffer of 40 feet of natural vegetation between the development and the homes on Westcott Circle.

Steve Newman, the developer’s husband, was on hand to say that even with zoning change approval, that the project is years from completion.

According to Newman, the developers haven’t even begun to draw plans and are waiting for the project to become economically feasible.

Assuaging the fears of some neighbors, Newman spoke to the development becoming townhomes and not apartments, renting somewhere in the range of $1,200 per month.

Newman also stated that he believed that most of the traffic from development’s residents would be directed out of Knowles Ave. and toward Cecil G. Costin Blvd. (State 71).

Commissioner Brett Lowry stated his belief the need for housing development in the city,

“If we want jobs here, we’ve got to have housing,” Lowry said.

The commission voted unanimously to send the project to the Department of Economic Opportunity for approval, while waiting until a future date to make a decision on official rezoning.

Road easement

An agreement has been reached on the 7th Street road easement between the city and property owners along St. Joseph Bay.

The city will abandon the easement, equally dividing the property between adjacent landowners, the Haddocks and Blaylocks.

Those landowners will then turn around and deed 7.5 ft of land on the new property edge back to the city, allowing for the city to build a path to the bay.

The Blaylocks would also grant an easement to complete the trail to the bay.

Both landowners will give the city $5,000 towards LED lighting for the Bay Trail from the marina to Frank Pate Boat Ramp.

The agreement was drawn up by Commissioner David Ashbrook and the city’s attorney.

Ashbrook stated that the city’s only option for the property was to leave it as is or build a road through it.

He believed the compromise fulfilled the needs of all parties involved, and allowed the citizens of the city to use the easement for access to the bay.

The commission voted unanimously to the agreement.

Flushing

John Grantland, the city’s Public Works director gave an update on the city’s flushing program.

According to Grantland, the flushing has been completed in Highland View and is near completion in White City.

Grantland said that due to the city proper’s size and distribution the project will take longer.

Grantland also noted that due to complainants, crews have leapfrogged the downtown area. The director also noted that the crews will soon be headed to St. Joe Beach, where they expect issues due to smaller pipe size.

After hearing public complaint about the execution of the flushing program, the commission agreed to look into possibly moving the program’s semi-annual date into the less busy winter season.

CDBG

According to Bruce Ballister, from the Apalachee Regional Planning Council, the city is in the final steps towards receiving CDBG grant money to replace a portion of the city’s water lines on the north side.

Ballister stated that city has received an offer of contract on the grant and is waiting for the necessary signatures from city officials.

The city plans on using the CDBG funds to replace water lines in North Port St. Joe and when asked a tentative starting date the mayor stated sometime in the fall.