Comp plan moves forward despite opposition

Staff Reporter
The Destin Log

Tempers flared on the dais Tuesday night, as city leaders continued to work through proposed changes to the comprehensive plan.

After two votes, which both failed 5-2, to delay moving forward with the document from Canin Associates, city leaders voted 5-2 to approve the proposed comp plan changes and send them to the Local Planning Agency for its review, but it didn't come without some frustration.

"It seems like some of the council wants to pass this tonight no matter how devastating it may be for the community," Councilman Rodney Braden said. "This is a huge undertaking and we've worked on it for a long time, getting the kinks out. We can't just say, 'well, we've worked on it this long, let's just pass it and we'll deal with it later.' That doesn't really sound real professional to me, and that's not what we are here for."

After calling for a point of order, Councilwoman Sandy Trammell said she didn't appreciate Braden's remarks. During government meetings, a point of order can be raised at any time when someone alleges a violation of governing rules.

"I will not tolerate being put down because I voted differently than you," she said. "The past two votes is what you are referencing, and point of order, you will not do that on this dais."

For her part, Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell, who made the two failed motions, told her colleagues they were elected by the people of Destin to represent them and speak for them.

"I don't think we should be cutoff when we are speaking," she said. "I just don't think that's proper."

As for the actual issues Tuesday night, residents who spoke during the meeting pointed out a variety of inconsistencies within the comprehensive plan document, such as missing sections and footnotes that didn't refer to anything.

One voice in the crowd said they couldn't believe the city paid more than $200,000 for a document full of errors.

Other concerns were height restrictions along portions of Holiday Isle. Representatives from the Holiday Isle Improvement Association, as well as private citizens, requested city leaders restrict building heights to 75 feet, which would be in line with the association's PC&Rs, which have been in effect since before the city of Destin was incorporated.

But not everyone who spoke was opposed to moving forward with the document.

Mary Anne Windes, who was representing the Fishing Fleet Marina and "47 fishing families," told city leaders the Canin proposals would represent a 25 percent loss in buildable space to the proposed Fishing Fleet Marina development that was denied in the past as a Tier III, they still support the document for the greater good of Destin.

"Would we recommend changes, yeah," she said. "With a vision this audacious, everyone is going to have a different set of things they would change. But we have to start somewhere."

"Growth is inevitable," she added. "We can either plan for it or try and stop it, but trying to stop it by stopping this plan will let it continue unchecked.

After Tuesday's vote, the proposed changes will be sent to the city's Local Planning Agency for review and recommendations before coming back to the city council for final adoption.