Santa Rosa County officials are looking 30 years into the future, and are asking residents for ideas on how to get there.
First of all, just what is a “comprehensive plan?” For that, we turn to Don Salter, who chairs the Santa Rosa County Commission.
“[It] pretty much identifies a long-range plan on how you’re going to continue to develop your county,” said Salter. “Land use, concurrency on highways, school concurrency, protection of your rural farmlands. And the requirements necessary to support that growth.”
Comprehensive plans were first devised in 1990, when the Florida Legislature passed zoning laws requiring all 67 counties to develop such blueprints. Santa Rosa’s is now undergoing a second makeover to extend its life to the year 2045. Part of that, says Salter, is breaking up the county into six areas because of Santa Rosa’s diversity.
There are three main goals for revision:
- Make changes in state-level planning regs, which lawmakers changed in 2011 to provide more flexibility at the grassroots level.
“They eliminated many of the state mandates, and shifted – and rightfully so – some of those responsibilities to the county level,” Salter said. “I think what they were saying is that they finally realize that one shoe doesn’t fit all. What’s good in Miami may or may not be good in northwest Florida.”
- Remove outdated references, along with repetitive or useless policies.
- Develop a framework, as mentioned earlier, to allow the county to plan by areas. In Santa Rosa’s case, the individual geographic areas would be the north end, south end, Pace, Milton, East Milton, and Navarre Beach.
Four community meetings are planned to gather public input on the new Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Don Salter says they’re looking at a September, 2016 deadline.
“At that point in time, the new plan will go before the [Santa Rosa County] Planning Board, for them to review and make any comments,” says Salter. “From there it will come to the Board of County Commissioners for our approval or any changes that we deem necessary. And from there it will go to the state level.”
The public meetings kick off Tuesday at noon, at the Navarre Visitor Center on Navarre Parkway. Others are scheduled for September 15 at the Chumuckla Community Center; October 1 at Tiger Point Community Center, and October 27 in Milton at the County Commission Meeting Room. Those three begin at 6:00 p.m.
Escambia County’s Comprehensive Plan – updated to the year 2030 -- was approved by the State of Florida in 2011.