MILTON — The City Council decided to amend Milton's comprehensive plan to add language showing they do not support four-laning Highway 90 through downtown.
At the Oct. 10 meeting, the council voted on an amendment that would add the following language to the comprehensive plan: “The City of Milton values the historic character of its downtown area and desires to protect those resources from the adverse effects of any future roadway improvements on U.S. 90 in downtown Milton.”
At a meeting in early April, the council voted on a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that would result in the city supporting a southern route as the only present solution to challenges facing the community for traffic on Highway 90.
Many local residents and business owners shared their views, but once it was time to vote, the council voted to remove the request for the Florida Department of Transportation to study a southern alternate route.
With the southern alternate route off the table, the only other option discussed by city officials was to widen Highway 90 to four lanes to solve current traffic issues; however, the city mulled removing that option as well.
“Talking to other officials in higher positions, the way that it’s going back and forth, [FDOT is] going to walk away from us,” Councilwoman Ashley Lay said. “So if we’re OK with losing out on any kind of improvements… it’s been done before. They will walk away from our community.”
Milton Planning Director Randy Jorgenson explained the process of amending the city’s comprehensive plan, which he said is lengthy.
“It does require that the amendment that’s crafted have review with the city’s planning board, that the planning board hold a hearing, that the hearing is held in compliance with state statute,” Jorgenson said. “Further, there are three different avenues under which amendments are done in comprehensive plans. The process that we’ll participate in will require recommendation from the planning board, consent form the council, submission of materials following a hearing, review by various state departments and agencies and other effected units of government — Santa Rosa County, transportation planning organizations, and all of the cabinet agencies of the state.
“Essentially what you are doing is asking for their consent. One of the things they will pay special attention to is does the amendment have an impact on any state facilities. I don’t need to remind you, this is U.S. 90. I fully suspect that they may have comments.”
Jorgenson said he is prepared to take this amendment to the planning board, and knows of three sections in the comprehensive plan where the language could be inserted.
“The reaction that we get from others is their reaction, and we’ll deal with those as they come,” Jorgenson said. “It’s nothing that’s done in 30 days, it’s nothing that’s done in 60 days, it’s nothing that’s done in 90.”
Councilwoman Sharon Holley asked all business owners in the audience to stay up to date with when the planning board is going to meet and attend the meetings to add their input.
Councilwoman Peggi Smith made the motion to amend the comprehensive plan to add the new language, rejecting the widening of Highway 90 through downtown Milton.
Snow seconded the motion, and the motion passed with Councilwomen Sharon Holley and Ashley Lay opposed; Councilwomen Pat Lunsford and Mary Ellen Johnson were absent from the meeting.