Way of life in Pace 'about to go to pot.' Resident voice concerns over Jubilee project

·4 min read

About 75 people piled into Gather at Alyssa's in Pace on Monday night to hear from the development group planning the massive Jubilee project proposed as a community development district.

A CDD is an insular, special-purpose structure that provides a way to manage and finance infrastructure required to support the development of a community.

According to Florida statute, this would give the community area special localized power over water management, sewer and wastewater management, bridges, roads, public transportation mechanisms, conservation areas, recreational parks and school buildings, among other items.

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Jerry Couey, right, poses a question to Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.
Jerry Couey, right, poses a question to Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.

The Jubilee development is a roughly 2,700-acre project planned to include housing, schools, a medical campus, commercial areas and more. It will sit north of Pace, mainly between Willard Norris and Luther Fowler roads.

Plans for Jubilee began taking shape in the mid- to late 2000s but were derailed during Great Recession. Plans popped up in 2016 to potentially donate the land to the county but never came to fruition.

In February, a preliminary plat for the first phase of the Jubilee project made its way into the county's hands. The phase's plan includes about 260 homes on 260 acres.

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A phased development plan indicates the Jubilee project will take about a decade to fully build out.

During the Monday event, Ron Reeser chief executive officer of the Eagle Group — which owns the Jubilee group — presented the case as to why the residents in the area should support the project as a CDD.

Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser speaks during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.
Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser speaks during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.

"It's to help us pay for growth. Like we said, it's a self-taxing district with a highly transparent board of directors," Reeser said.

Reeser also stressed that he believes the use of a CDD will allow the county to have more money at its disposal.

"So, all that money that's flowing to the county to spend for maintaining those streets is now over here in the county's coffers to take care of traffic or stormwater or whatever the problems are," Reeser said. "And so, keep that in mind because that's something that we want the commissioners to continue to understand is the CDD is giving them more money to spend on the rest of the county."

But a number of county residents turned out to the meeting to raise concerns about the nature of the project. Questions aimed at Reeser and his group ranged from concerns over stormwater runoff to some residents taking issue that the project is encroaching on rural land.

Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser speaks during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.
Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser speaks during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.

"I remember when you guys (started) this, because I was living here when they first talked about Jubilee. And I was in construction. And I thought it was great. And I wish you had done it then because now what we're stuck with … the infrastructure, the water, the roads, the schools, everything that's happening," said county resident Tim Remmie. "And everybody wants to move to Santa Rosa County."

Other residents who spoke, like Sherry Chapman, took issue with another element of the development group's proposal.

"You're coming in, throwing it in our lap, and making it look like it is absolutely the Land of Oz. When we all know that our way of life — the reason that we moved here — is just about to go to pot. So that means we've got to get up and move," Chapman said. "We talked about all this infrastructure and stuff like that, but you're putting in a government within a government within a government at the end of the day. So, think about that. We are Republicans in this town. We don't want more government."

Jerry Couey, right, poses a question to Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.
Jerry Couey, right, poses a question to Eagle Group CEO Ron Reeser during a town hall meeting about the proposed Jubilee Community Development District in Pace on Monday.

And others, like Jerry Couey, had concerns about issues peripheral to the project itself.

"Until we have infrastructure, and I mean, a four-lane Willard Norris (Road) and a four-lane Berryhill (Road), we're in trouble," Couey said.

In all, the estimated infrastructure construction cost for the project sits just under $177 million.

Monday's meeting was the first of two CDD town halls hosted by the development group. The other will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the same location.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Jubilee hosts Pace town hall to meet with Santa Rosa County residents