Milton Council approves comprehensive plan amendment by one vote

Milton's historic downtown district is located along the banks of the Blackwater River; the district is a designated Florida Main Street Community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [File photo]

MILTON — An amendment to the Milton Comprehensive Plan passed its second public hearing Feb. 13, in a split vote.

Councilman Alan Lowery moved to accept the amendment with a second from Councilman Jeff Snow. Lowery, Snow, Councilman Casey Powell and Councilwoman Heather Hathaway voted to accept the amendment. Councilwomen Peggi Smith, Mary Ellen Johnson, Pat Lunsford and Sharon Holley voted against. Mayor Wesley Meiss cast the tie breaking yea-vote to accept the amendment.

Added language focuses on historic preservation. "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 improvement," the revised plan states.

The amended language no longer addressed the Florida Department of Transportation’s proposal to widen U.S. 90 through downtown Milton directly but speakers addressed the council in reference to it.

George Jordan said a traffic configuration sending vehicles down Stewart Street would hurt business in downtown Milton. Michael Johnson also expressed concern for the downtown Milton economy if FDOT does not four-lane U.S. 90.

At a January council meeting, Vernon Compton said a Main Street Milton petition showed 5,000 signatures against widening U.S. 90.

Theresa Messick requested the petition from FDOT, she said. The list she received showed 728 names, 474 of which belonged to Santa Rosa County residents. FDOT Public Information Director Ian Satter confirmed the list of 728 unique names.

Jerry Couey said he was originally against the plan to four-lane through downtown Milton.

"I looked at every part of this," Couey said, "and it seems to me there’s not a harm in four-laning 90 where you’ll open up people coming to us."

He was also concerned for further ramifications to the county.

"The concern is not just this short section DOT may back out on," Couey said. "The concern is for citizens across the county not just Milton."