Santa Rosa County, Florida commission approves first steps in turning local golf course into apartments

·2 min read

An apartment complex development at the old Moors Golf Club will be allowed to move ahead under the condition it adds additional setbacks and landscaping to create a barrier to its neighbors.

Santa Rosa County commissioners approved the East Avalon LLC development’s conditional use request at a special zoning meeting Thursday night, despite opposition from residents who wanted the 350-unit apartment buildings to go on the parcel’s northwest side farther away from the Moors subdivision.

Commissioner Bob Cole, whose district includes the Moors Golf Course, said it was his understanding that wetlands in that portion of the property prohibited building multi-story structures — which made it hard to appease the residents — but overall it was a worthwhile project.

“I feel for the folks who bought with the intention of having a golf course in their backyard, but I don’t see that ever coming back at this point, and I think the applicant has provided an excellent project,” he said.

Developer representative Rodney Sutton said the overall plan is to develop the front as apartments and single-family homes, with a mix of retail and commerce mixed in toward the back, though the conditional use to build the apartments was the only element up for discussion Thursday.

He said there would likely be a traffic light installed along Avalon Boulevard as part of that plan, though the state often requires an existing overwhelming capacity to permit new lights, which won’t come until there are increased residents coming to and from the area.

Many of the residents who spoke Thursday weren’t necessarily opposed to the concept, but didn’t want the three- or four-story building overlooking their homes, something Sutton said would be negated by the additional setbacks and landscaping.

“I get it, you guys need apartment buildings in Santa Rosa County, 100% we understand. … We’re not opposed, we just don’t want it right in the backyard,” resident Mike Johnson said.

Ultimately the commission approved the development moving ahead under the conditions the developer design with the buffers and additional tree plantings the neighbors had agreed to.

The developer will now need to submit an engineered commercial site plan to begin “horizontal improvements” like parking, landscaping, and stormwater work, then once they get a development order, building plans will be reviewed.

Emma Kennedy can be reached at ekennedy@pnj.com or 850-480-6979.

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