MEXICO BEACH — A new planned unit development is on its way to Mexico Beach. However, not all local residents believe the 555-acre complex will add to the small town charm the city is characteristically known for.
At a regular meeting last week, several Mexico Beach residents lambasted designs for the 1,000-unit St. Joe Town Village.
Traffic and access to the beach and boat ramp were primary concerns.
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“I really think we need to take a look at the roadway, in and out,” said local resident Charles Hanskell, pointing to the increased number of cars that will be added to the future west end complex to be located on U.S. Highway 98. “I think its a poor design” for traffic.
“When I hear they want to build an apartment that's going to double the size of the community, it makes me a little bit nervous because I really didn't see that one coming when I bought into this community,” another resident said. “It's going to fundamentally change everything that we moved to this community for.”
But, that's not the vision the city's leadership had in mind. According to Mayor Al Cathey, officials knew the land that St. Joe will now build the development on had potential before, “it just didn't make any revenue.”
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“Without (Hurricane) Michael, I would have been in support of this PUD,” he said.
“We were built-out before Michael,” he added, noting the swamp land to the north, beaches to the south, Tyndall Air Force Base to the west, and the Gulf County line to the east. “We had nowhere to go. This type of development is right in line. St. Joe didn't ask for anything special, they are building with the same requirements as anyone else.”
The development will be phased in over the next 20 years. Cathey said he did not believe the development would take away from the city's quaintness.
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“It'll bring some life and something different. We don't have any housing per se in terms of garden homes or apartment buildings ... in our town, nor have we ever had as far as rentals,” he concluded. “It will bring a much needed tax base to our town. The layout St. Joe is presenting is a nice layout and it fits in within out town.”