Navarre residents protest proposed homes

Please use the SHARE buttons to forward this news

TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

MILTON – Though the Santa Rosa County Commission on Thursday rejected a developer’s proposed 48-lot single-family home subdivision in east Navarre, the developer still has the county’s approval for a 44-lot development.

“That’s basically what it comes down to, is four homes,” Commission Chairman Bob Cole said during a special meeting to consider Bobby Killingsworth’s proposed project in the Whispering Pines area.

Many residents who live near the proposed project site, however, expressed concern that any new homes would just increase existing problems such as crowded schools, congested and unsafe roads and inadequate stormwater infrastructure. 

Killingsworth, of Navarre, had sought approval to build a 48-lot subdivision on a 54-acre, vacant property east of Whispering Pines Boulevard and south of Sunnybrook Drive.

“We want to do a residential subdivision, and we’ve got residential subdivisions around it,” he said of the proposed 48-lot development. “We’re staying out of the wetlands and we’d meet all the county codes, requirements and so forth, and would just like to provide some housing for some more future residents of the Navarre area.”

But many residents at the meeting did not like the sound of that. James Beasley, who lives near the proposed subdivision site, gave county officials a petition signed by him and 923 other Whispering Pines area residents who oppose further development of the area at this time.

Residential development “is not the only reason why schools become overcrowded, but it is the most preventable,” Beasley said. “I ask you tonight to please vote no against more development in our area until our children’s needs are addressed.”

Resident Sheryl Harris said the homes in the proposed subdivision would be built on lots smaller than those of existing, surrounding homes, thereby decreasing the property values of the current residences.

“Please preserve our property values, not decrease them,” she told commissioners.

The proposed subdivision site stands in commission district four, which is represented by Commissioner Rob Williamson. After the commission heard from other residents who oppose the subdivision, Williamson said the best political decision for him to make would be to ask for a moratorium on development.

But Killingsworth did not cause the local problem of too much growth without adequate supporting infrastructure, Williamson said.

“I also know that anything short of this board voting down this measure is going to leave probably pretty much everybody in here leaving upset, ‘cause your ticked off” about growth-related problems, he said. “And you know what? I’m ticked off, too. I live in Navarre, too, just like you. I didn’t just roll into town a couple of years ago. I’ve been here as a business owner since 2005. I have bought and sold and owned homes in Navarre.”

Williamson added that he is “blown away” when he sees long-time vacant lots being developed.

“Properties last hours now” before being bought and developed, he said. “My kids go to Navarre schools, too. I get it.”

He also noted that 1,633 homes have been built in the south county, from Gulf Breeze to Navarre along and near U.S. Highway 98, in the three years he’s been in office.

“The problems and this state of emergency we find ourselves in didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to get fixed overnight,” Williamson said.

In any event, Killingsworth shouldn’t be punished for “all of the neglect” caused by the county not providing adequate infrastructure in the past, he said.

Williamson’s motion to support the 48-lot subdivision project died for lack of a second.

He then said, “If we’re not going to approve 48 (homes), I make a motion to deny his request.”

While that denial was approved unanimously, Cole pointed out that Killingsworth still has the county’s approval to build a 44-lot subdivision.

“He’s had that ability since 2016,” Cole said, but “was trying to squeak in four more” homes.

Earlier in the meeting, Cole announced that Killingsworth had withdrawn his request for approval of his proposed 164-unit apartment project. Killingsworth earlier had sought to build the apartment community on 54 acres west of Whispering Pines Boulevard and south of Pouder Lane.

Be the first to comment on "Navarre residents protest proposed homes"

Leave a comment