Past, present leave Whispering Pines residents riled

Proposed development of an apartment complex on Whispering Pines Boulevard has been nixed according to District 4 County Commissioner Rob Williamson.

Williamson addressed a handful of concerned citizens Monday night at the Navarre Beach Visitor Information Center ahead of an upcoming vote by the Board of County Commissioners on the issue

Under consideration were two different developments. The Sanctuary Apartments would have been a 164-unit, seven building complex located at the northern end of Whispering Pines Boulevard just south of Pouder Lane.

The other development still on the table is located across the street. That subdivision, Creet’s Landing, would consist of 48 lots on roughly 54 acres of property.

Both projects were put forward by Bobby Killingsworth in partnership with James A. Parker. Both men own portions of the potential development.

Public outcry by dozens of citizens of Whispering Pines has largely focused on the lack of supporting infrastructure in place. There are no sidewalks in the area, and residents say that Whispering Pines, which is the feeder road for several subdivision developments, is overburdened.

Killingsworth was in attendance at the meeting. He did not make a statement regarding the apartment complex, but he did point out that PUD zoned properties like the one he wants to develop are meant to have mixed use. That can include apartments, commercial spaces and single family homes all in one place.

“PUD zoning is to encourage mixed use… It is to encourage you to stay in that block and not go out to 98,” he said.

He went on to say that the situation before them has been a long time coming. He said Whispering Pines Boulevard was created in 1983 as nothing more than an access road for one subdivision before zoning codes were even on the books for that area.

“Navarre and Santa Rosa County have done an absolutely terrible job of planning…Planning has not been anything that anybody has done a good job with,” Killingsworth said. “Developers get pointed fingers at, but developers are at fault. The county is at fault. The residents are at fault.”

He said no one, including buyers, was willing to invest in things like sidewalks from the beginning leaving them in this situation decades later.

Resident Heidi Allgood said the property Killingsworth owns would be better used for something else. She proposed to work with the county to secure grant funding for purchasing the property to create a park.

Williamson said that there are currently no plans to develop a park in the eastern portion of Navarre, but he did hint at a possible green space development to be revealed in March or April.

He went on to say that green space is harder and harder to find in Navarre.

“It’s been completely built out, every square inch of dirt,” Williamson said.

As the area continues to grow Williamson said there needs to be focus on planning for the future. He said up to now there has not been any effective planning to direct Navarre resulting in the issues described. He pointed to the District 4 Master Plan as well as discussion of the creation of an east to west community access road as potential sources of improvement.

He described a walkable downtown area. He said private investors are also getting on board.

“I have been working with a developer for six months now that they bought into my vision that I have for the heart of Navarre and that it would be more walkable and that it wouldn’t be this big box cookie cutter that we are seeing in Gulf Breeze and Tiger Point,” Williamson said.

The BOCC will vote on whether or not to approve master plans for the developments at 6 p.m., Dec. 14 at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Center Board Room, 6495 Caroline Street, Milton.

As seen in the Dec. 14 issue of Navarre Press. Click here to subscribe for as little as $38 per year.

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