Holiday Isle development standards 'dividing point' in comp plan updates

Staff Reporter
The Destin Log

With proposed amendments to Chapter 1 of the comprehensive plan 2020 in front of them Monday night, the majority of city leaders were uncomfortable moving forward without more time to discuss the issues.

Changes from Canin Associates, who was tasked with taking recommendations and suggestions from the Envision Destin process, were delivered to councilors Oct. 8, but Monday night was the first time they were able to discuss the proposals publicly.

Since Monday, councilors have had the opportunity to sit down with the city staff to discuss the proposals further.

Recommendations from Canin Associates, which would affect Crystal Beach, the city's town center, harbor and Holiday Isle areas, include elimination of the city's tier system and using a total floor area ratio process for development, requiring more pedestrian-friendly developments, providing a consistent and predictable application of development standards and requiring architectural design standards for all levels of development.

While not everyone agrees with all of the proposed changes, most people who have spoken out during the Envision Destin process were supportive of the overall ideas.

The main sticking point seems to be with the development standards; more specifically the height structure along Holiday Isle.

"I have to admit, most of the proposal is certainly an improvement from the previous version, but there are still some issue," said Guy Tadlock, a Holiday Isle resident. "Despite all of our pleas for 75 feet (max height), it's 100 feet (in the proposal)."

Currently, the Holiday Isle Improvement Association has its own guidelines that dictate development standards for a portion of the peninsula, which limit building heights to 75 feet.

Under the proposed changes, developments in the high density residential (HDR) future land use along Holiday Isle could be 100-feet tall and nine stories. The difference in height could put developers in legal risks, as the city may approve a development order, but the Holiday Isle Improvement Association can challenge the project in court.

"This single issue has been the dividing point," City Manager Greg Kisela said. "The struggle we have going below the Tier II in any areas is you have the possibility of impacting someone's property rights."

City leaders will hold a special meeting Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the City Hall Annex to further discuss the proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan. During the Tuesday meeting, the goal would be to take a vote on the proposed changes and move forward with the process.

Once the city finalizes the plan, it will be sent to the state for review. The state can make suggestions and recommendations on the document, which will then come back to the city council, during a public meeting, for adoption on second reading. If approved, the amendments become law.

After the comprehensive plan 2020 is completed, the city will turn its attention to the land development code, which will have to be amended to reflect the changes in the comprehensive plan.