Thursday, March 30, 2023

Possible affordable housing coming to South Walton


SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Finding an affordable place to live can feel nearly impossible, especially if you’re looking in areas like South Walton. But one local church is taking the first step to help change that.

Christian International is looking to build a family-style residential development near the church, just off of Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. At Tuesday’s Walton County Commission Meeting, the board approved their request of rezoning that land to possibly do just that.

The request changed the future land use categories from Public Facilities and Institutional, Mixed Use, and Conservation Residential to Commercial. It also changed the current zoning categories from Institutional, Coastal Center Mixed Use, and Conservation Residential 2 units per 1 acre to General Commercial on 67.51 +/- acres.

Officials with the church said they want to build a roughly 400-unit residential complex, with 20% of it being workforce housing. And that’s just the beginning. There is also the possibility of building more housing south of Hwy. 98 with some commercial space as well.

A project this massive did come with mixed opinions. Some residents stood and argued it would be hurting the environment there. Others were thrilled to hear about the possibility of something more affordable coming.

“This is a particularly large project. In fact, it’s the largest area that we’ve considered in the last year and the largest number of potential units we’ve seen in the last year,” Steve Hall, land use attorney for the Walton County Planning Department, said. “So they heard arguments from both sides. Pretty much a classic affordable housing conversation.”

It’s unclear exactly what the word “affordable” means for this potential development.

With the rezoning, Christian International now has the opportunity to come back next meeting with more detailed development plans for phase one. The development itself does still have to be approved before moving any further.

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