Seven Midway lots to be developed next to protected land

More development has made its way to Santa Rosa County as seven lots on the healthy side of the Gulf Breeze Peninsula have received zoning approval from county staff.

The collection of lots includes part of a conservation easement that was established in 2009, which means that these sections of the lots are protected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

County Planning and Zoning Director Shawn Ward confirmed to the News Journal that any development on the plots must be outside of these identified protected areas.

He said the building plans had not yet been submitted to the building department and the collection included an eighth plot which could not be developed at all due to the conservation easement and wetlands. Together the plots cover approximately 12.5 acres.

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The plots are in the Midway area off Ocean Breeze Lane, just north of Soundside Drive, an area that experienced an interconnection error last year that contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of homes when a sewer line was mistakenly connected to a main water line at a new home.

According to Ward, the lot plans include single-family residential structures. Already, conservationists in the south of the county are alarmed at the effects that future development on the peninsula will have.

“Now that’s just making the flooding problems worse. That’s another thing the area is trying to keep going – all the stormwater runoff,” said Liz Pavelick of the environmental group Save our Soundside. She called the decision to allow projects on the plots “incredible”.

The lot lines were originally drawn in 2020, but nothing materialized at that time.

In addition to environmental concerns, Pavelick said she sees logistical issues regarding ease of access to Ocean Breeze Lane.

“It’s so narrow that you can only get one car down the road to where it finally ends in a dead end,” she said, adding that she thought it would create particular problems in the event of an emergency.

She said her concern for development in the area was not just related to the healthy side of the peninsula, saying she had seen a snowball effect in recent years with the resumption of development in this part of the country. county.

“I’m also frustrated with everything they’re building, because I love the sound and I love East Bay, and both of our waterways are being destroyed by all this development,” Pavelick said.

The first stages of this proposal come at a time when the peninsula is facing a wave of new projects. A new high school across from the Gulf Breeze Zoo is expected to welcome its first students in 2025. Nearly 300 townhouses are planned on two lots off US 98 in Midway and a 58-lot “upscale” subdivision on Bergren Road is also in the works.

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