Public input sought as city prepares for future growth

Matt Algarin
City leaders are seeking input as it relates to growth in the four planning areas show on this map.

Do you want to help shape the future of Destin?

If so, the city will hold a series of public workshops where citizens can have input on how the city should plan for growth, redevelopment, transportation and other development components.

“We’ve heard in the past that certain parts of the proposed changes (to Chapter 1 of the Comprehensive Plan) had too much input from the development community,” City Manager Greg Kisela told The Log.

Now residents have the ability to share their voice.

The city has hired Orlando-based Canin Associates to created computerized 3-D/digital models which will show residents and city leaders what development in different areas of the city will look like based on current comprehensive plan and land development code standards.

The visualizations will focus on four different areas of the city — the Harbor Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), the Town Center CRA, the Holiday Isle area and Crystal Beach area.

This visual aspect is key, as it can be tedious to understand development terminology, such as intensity/density, setbacks and floor area ratio (FAR).

“The development community understands all of these words,” Kisela said. “To visualize what these words mean to the average citizen, is helpful.”

Input gathered during the meetings will be used to develop new, updated digital models and images that will be up for further discussion and input in late July.

Looking around the city, Kisela told The Log there is reason to believe the Town Center CRA, Harbor CRA and Crystal Beach areas will see the most redevelopment in the next 10 years.

Given the potential for changes in development standards, Kisela said the city must be able to balance existing property rights with growth.

“If you own property in Destin, you have a bundle of property rights,” he said. “Right or wrong, everyone of these parcels has a bundle and we have to be sensitive to these rights.”

As for Canin Associates, Kisela said he has been “very impressed” with the company so far. He said before the company was even under contract, they spent about two-and-a-half days in Destin taking pictures, walking the city and “getting the lay of the land.”

Meetings, which begin May 18, will be held at the Destin Community Center at 101 Stahlman Avenue. The meetings all begin at 5:30 p.m. and start with Crystal Beach (May 18), the Harbor District (May 19), the Town Center (May 20) and Holiday Isle (May 21).

There will also be two daytime “drop-in” meetings for those who are unable to attend the night sessions. These will be May 21, from noon to 2 p.m. and May 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Destin Community Center.

For more information about the process, call the city manager’s office at 837-4242. The website www.envisiondestin has also been setup and will be used to share information and updates as the process progresses.

Overall though, Kisela told The Log the key is for the community to get involved and share their thoughts for the city’s future.

“We will have wasted a whole bunch of money and time if the community doesn’t participate,” he said. “We want to make Destin a better place.”