Destin discusses maximum building height limit

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN —While some might say the cat was let out of the bag long ago, city officials are making progress on a plan to make it tougher for developers to exceed the city’s maximum building height limit.

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On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that calls for asking Destin voters in the Nov. 3 general election whether to include the city’s maximum building height limit of six stories in the city charter.

The potential charter change also would require any applicant seeking to exceed that height limit to need the approval of at least 60% of city voters at a referendum election.

The council plans to vote on whether to adopt the ordinance after a second reading at an upcoming meeting.

“This has been a long time coming. I wish we had passed this 20 years ago,” said Councilman Parker Destin, who generated the proposed ballot measure. “But it is never too late to give the voice back to the people so they can chart their own destiny.”

Several residents spoke at the meeting in favor of the ballot measure going before voters. One of those residents also told city officials to make sure the ballot language is clear and easy to understand.

City Land Use Attorney Kimberly Kopp then read aloud the proposed ballot question: “Shall the city of Destin’s charter be amended to provide that no building height in the city shall exceed six stories (75 feet) unless approved by at least 60% of the city voters at a general election?”

The city’s existing maximum building height of six stories is currently set forth in Destin’s comprehensive plan. But it does not currently allow for any variance process in regards to the maximum allowable building height in the city, according to city information.

Within the upcoming months, a comp plan amendment will be brought to the council that will clarify that the building heights set forth in the plan are subject to terms of the charter.

If the proposed ballot question receives simple-majority approval from the voters, language added to the charter would include the statement, “No structure, no part of any structure, and no attachment to any structure shall be erected to a height greater than six stories (75 feet) above the crown of the abutting road.”