MILTON— The June 13 city council meeting included a public hearing on the Summer Towne Project, which concerned several residents.

Property owners within 500 feet of the proposed continuum of care community received notification about the meeting, according to Planning Director Randy Jorgenson.

THE PROJECT

Summer Towne is a three-year phase development to address a 10-year potential senior care housing need in Santa Rosa County, according to the plan.

“The land in question is generally known as 26 acres north of Milton Dodge, bounded by Glover Lane, Lambert Lane and Long Street,” Jorgenson said. “This is an undeveloped site covered with pine and hardwood trees; 50 percent of the land could be deemed wet, and the wetlands have been delineated.”

There will be a 10-block model home site along Long Street. Access will be provided by a Glover Lane bridging entrance in the southwest corner serving 96 apartments; a small bridge will connect 120 additional apartments and 20 townhomes, according to the plan.

A 132-unit development, which includes assisted and independent living units with a dementia wing, will have access through Lambert Lane, connected to Long Street and the Glover Lane entrances. The remaining eight Long Street model home lots will contain an additional 12 townhomes, according to the plan.

Onsite amenities include outdoor recreation parks, playgrounds, pools and nature trails throughout the wetlands. There are 1.68 acres of commercial property reserved for future development, according to the plan.

“Infrastructure that is adequate to carry the need for the facility is found in close proximity,” Jorgenson said. “We do have some concerns about area hydrology and traffic, and one of the recommendations for the planning board is to ensure that those are addressed adequately.”

This concept plan is the first part of a three-phase process. A residential plan will bind the developer to do exactly what he has described in his concept plan, according to Jorgenson.

RESIDENT CONCERNS

Donna Locke of Milton said she is concerned about the water runoff that might go into her property when this is built because workers will be filling in a retention pond that has been there for many years and had turned into a creek. Mayor Wesley Meiss and Jorgenson assured that the problem would be taken care of by the developer.

Bud Naftel of East Milton said he was concerned about upkeep of the property, because some nearby homes have deteriorated over time. Councilman Casey Powell said that although the city doesn’t have total control over private property, code enforcement will require maintenance of the exterior.

Debbie Cummings, an owner of multiple businesses across the street from the project site, said she is concerned about the wetlands and the wild animals living on site. Cummings also said she was concerned about the crime this development might bring into the area, and the traffic.

Amanda Floyd of Milton said she is concerned about the drugs and the crime it might bring. Floyd also said that Long Street is a small residential street that can’t handle heavy traffic.

ADDRESSING THE CONCERNS

According to Jorgenson, 13 acres out of the 26 will be wetlands reserved for public and semi-public purposes.

Jerry Armstrong, the developer from Emerald Coast Properties, said this plan started in 2005. The homes, he said, will not serve low-income residents, but will be upscale housing that is gated with around-the-clock security; therefore, crime should not be an issue.

The city of Milton said in a statement: "The tremendous growth of Santa Rosa County results in a demand (for) various housing types and this development helps meet the need. The county experienced over 25 percent growth between the years of 2000 and 2010. This progression of growth continues unabated. The property includes large wetland areas which will be preserved and protected to provide habitat for area flora and fauna. These wetlands were delineated in 2008 and necessary steps will be taken to preserve the protected environment."

Councilwoman Peggi Smith motioned to accept the concept plan and allow the developer to move forward with the detailed plan. The motion was seconded by Powell and the motion passed with only Councilwoman Pat Lunsford opposed.