City to acquire, improve Regions Way via special assessment

Matt Algarin
Much needed improvements are coming to Regions Way, as a special assessment will be used to fund the repairs.

City leaders and affected property owners along Regions Way in Destin have agreed that a special assessment is needed to make much needed repairs to this private roadway.

“We’re going to bring this up to city standards,” City Manager Greg Kisela said of the rundown roadway near Crystal Beach.

In September 2014, property owners along the roadway approached the city, asking if this stretch of roadway could be absorbed by the city so much-needed repairs could be made.

For that to happen, the repairs must be made first, then the city will take over ownership and all future maintenance. City leaders unanimously agreed to enact a special assessment during their Aug. 3 city council meeting, which would be the first step in officially taking over the roadway.

More than 50 percent of the property owners had to sign a petition saying they would agree to the assessment. But, according to Kisela, it was only a “slight majority.”

“We’ve vetted everyone of the signatures and we are very comfortable,” Kisela said.

Ownership in the proposed right-of-way, according to city documents, is currently held by Regions Way of Destin, LLC, “a corporate entity that has been administratively dissolved for failure to file an annual report.”

Taxes on the property haven’t been paid since 2009, which has resulted in a tax lien in excess of $4,000, records show. The total cost of acquiring the property, design and construction of the improvement project is anticipated to be $227,834.20.

Construction is expected to include removal and replacement of the roadway and base, as well as milling and resurfacing of areas that do not require total reconstruction.

The city will use “standard trip generations tables,” with a multiplier that adjusts the total based on the percentage of driveway connections on Regions Way to determine the assessment amount to each property.

Once the special assessment is enacted, the city cannot ask affected property owners for more money, so it would have to makeup the difference in cost.

Ideally, city leaders would like to add the assessment to property owner’s bills, but Kisela said the collection method would be up to the Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s office.

“He’ll decide if that’s something he wants to do,” Kisela said. “I’m not sitting here telling you there’s not some risk here, because there is.”

The next step is for city leaders to draft a resolution for the city council to create the special assessment, as well as to file an assessment roll and plat for the clerk of courts office.

While the majority of the benefits from the road's improvements will go to those along Regions Way, it's all about doing the right thing for the city.

"The reality is that we are here to serve the constituency, and that road is a real detriment to that neighborhood and reflects badly on the city," Development Manager Steve Schmidt told The Log. "We found a way to have the improvements paid for and the road brought up to city standards. It's a benefit to the community, and we're here to serve the community."