DeFuniak Springs City Council talks amendments, grants and fireworks

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This is Part Two of the story on the Nov. 14, 2022 meeting of the DeFuniak Springs City Council. 


The DeFuniak City Council’s regular meeting at the old city hall on Nov. 14, 2022. 

Josh Sconiers was confirmed to fill the council seat vacated by the late Dr. Robert McKnight. He will be sworn in at the next meeting. 

Denise Anderson received approval for a Large-Scale Amendment to amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) from Agricultural and MDR, (Medium Density Residential) to Commercial and MDR. Although the property currently contains the requested commercial designation, they would like to adjust the boundaries of the commercial district and create a new MDR area. The property is 112.01-acre and is located north of I10 and west of 331. 

Anna Hudson, acting on behalf of The Walton County Board of Commissioners, received approval for a Small-Scale Amendment to amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) from Low-Density Residential, Medium-Density Residential, and Commercial to an Institutional designation.There are 15 individual parcels included in this request. The property is located between north 8th Street and north 5th Street, north of U.S. 90. 


The PGTA (Public Transportation Grant Agreement) has been amended and resolved: $1 million of this funding is in the FDOT terminal work plan and has been available since July 2022, and $560,000 was moved from within the FDOT work plan via resolution 2022-08. Those funds were previously allocated to the Airport Industrial Park Development. The next PTGA increase for the terminal in the amount of $1 million can/will occur in July 2023. Those funds are currently in the FDOT work plan. 

The current Land Development Code regulates land uses located within the various zoning districts found throughout the City. Section 18-46, C-2, Commercial allows a limited set of uses that are allowed by right, and a small set that is allowed upon a special approval by the city council. Recent trends in development have shown that there is a desire for additional uses within the C-2 district. In order to accommodate the potential developments, the staff is proposing that the city council expand the list of uses permitted with special approval to include mini-storage warehouses and hospitals/clinics. C1 is not included, veterinarians would be combined with hospitals/clinics. They will conduct a Public Hearing and the 1st Reading of the Draft Text Amendment Ordinance for this and the following wetland buffer. 

It was recently brought to the city’s attention that the current wetlands buffer is more restrictive than those required by the Northwest Florida Water Management District and Walton County. The city currently requires a 30’ wetlands buffer that is to remain undisturbed. The amendment would reduce the required wetlands buffer to 25’ which is in line with those required by the state and the county. 

Kevin Chilcutt was denied sale of Class C fireworks within the city limits without customers having to sign a form. Fireworks are already allowed; this simply removes a requirement as allowed by state statute. The action equally applies to all fireworks vendors legally selling (licensed by the city) in the city limits. This will meet the requests and needs of the customers and residents and increase taxable sales. While the state recently allowed the use of Class C fireworks (exploding and off ground) on the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, sale is limited to sparklers and fountains only. An exception is for the customer to sign a form saying they will use the Class C fireworks for agriculture purposes only. This requires the customer to most likely tell a lie by signing the form. By using the allowance in the statute for a local municipality to opt out of the requirement, the Class C can be sold without customers having to sign the form. “As a ministry we do not want to encourage people to lie about their purchase,” said Chilcutt.  

Staff proposed a buffer around the historic district that would require any new off-premises signs(billboards) be at least 500’ from the historic district. This will be discussed at the next meeting as the first reading. 

Council member Anthony Vallee presented the following requests:

• The properties proposed for Foreclosure will be brought forward. 

• Harbeson Field Interlocal Agreement Update. The City Manager will request an interlocal agreement at the next BCC meeting. 

• The council considered establishing a weight limit on Old Landfill Road. The Waste Management trucks use the road and have caused a lot of damage to the road and the sewer lines. A proposed vehicle weight may solve this problem, however, Kevin Crystal suggested enforcing it may be a problem. It would cost about $350,000 to fix the road. The city public works will meet with the county public works to investigate solutions. 

• Downtown alleyways have drainage issues. Each time the alley is repaved it raises the road and has brought the level higher than the back doors of the buildings. The council approved tasking the engineers to bring back a proposal to fix the alleyway. 

• Eagle Springs requested to use Live Oak Ave. West for a proposed exit. They requested Robert Thompson, City Manager, to coordinate access. 

Council member Todd Bierbaum presented the following: 

• Discussion was held concerning the DeFuniak Springs Visitor Center along with the renovation of the bathrooms. He said the North Walton TDC is adopting a one Walton policy, and the bathrooms should be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Dr. Melinda Henderson requested it not be done before the Tour of Homes on December 3. 

• Christmas Reflections brings in much development downtown. The TDC is willing to be a sponsor for the promotion of Christmas Reflections and they also received a grant of $6000. They want to create and obtain promotional content that can be used on various media channels.

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