The Perdido Key Master Plan was adopted by Escambia County on June 2, 2016 after numerous public meetings and extensive deliberations by public officials. As noted by the County: “the plan is intended to guide decisions related to public and private use of land and public facilities in a manner compatible with the land’s character and adaptability, thus promoting good stewardship of resources.” It provides incentives and restrictions through zoning and other land-use instruments to encourage development along the lines of the so-called “New Urbanism” promoted by architectural firm DPZ.
The plan’s main focus is on the Perdido Key Drive corridor between Semmes Road and River Road where the “Perdido Key Town Center Overlay District” encourages “a walkable, attractive urban space that supports a mix of uses” and discourages “commercial strip development . . .” Although the Perdido Key Master Plan provides government rules and guidance on development, construction and other land use decisions will be primarily through private initiatives.
Specific details on the Perdido Key Master Plan are available from Escambia County at www.myescambia.com. What follows on this page is background information on the discussions and actions that preceded approval of the plan, including videos of the “charrette” process used by DPZ to obtain public input for the Plan.
Perdido Key Master Plan Approved!!
At its public hearing on June 2, 2016, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners approved the Perdido Key Master Plan by a 5 to 0 vote! This was a big step forward for the future of our beautiful island. Keeping track of what comes next may be even more important, but PKA members should take satisfaction in having provided support to get the plan.
County Commissioners Advance Master Plan
At its first Public Hearing on May 19, 2016, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) advanced the Perdido Key Master Plan by unanimous vote. The second Public Hearing will be held on June 2, 2016, at 5:00 PM in downtown Pensacola at the Escambia County Government Center, 221 Palafox Place. PKA members are encouraged to attend to help ensure this huge step for Perdido Key’s future is successfully completed!
Planning Board Favors Master Plan!!
The Escambia County Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of the zoning modifications and zoning overlay district proposed for the Perdido Key Master Plan. This was a significant step in the approval process of the Plan, with the next and most important being review and hoped for approval of the Plan by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners. The Commissioner’s review will likely take place sometime in May 2016. We will inform PKA member once the time and date are firmly established.
The Planning Board hearing followed an information session on the Master Plan held at the Perdido Bay Community Center. Well over 100 people, including a number of PKA members, attended the presentation by architectural firm DPZ partner Marina Khoury, transportation consultant Richard Hall, and District Two Commissioner Doug Underhill–followed by a question and answer session. Many in the audience and certainly those who spoke at the Planning Board hearing favored the Plan, but some had continued concerns about issues such as traffic and parking. If the Plan is approved, these concerns will need to be addressed with significant priority in any development that follows.
During discussions by the Planning Board, one member of the Board recommended that DPZ be retained by the County for perhaps three years following approval of the Plan to help ensure development begins in the right direction. The proposal seemed reasonable, but will of course require further review and additional funding to be put in place.
Approval by the Escambia County Planning Board was an important step forward for the Perdido Key Master Plan and for the island as well. Your support as members of the Perdido Key Association has had a great deal to do with the progress so far.
See also Pensacola News Journal April 5/6, 2016 article “Perdido Key Master Plan Takes First Step.”
Rezoning for the Perdido Key Master Plan
The Escambia County Planning Board held a public workshop on the developing Perdido Key Master Plan on February 16, 2016. Architectural firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) presented its recommendations for modifications to zoning that might be needed to encourage pedestrian and bicycle friendly development on the island. A major recommendation was to create an overlay district along Perdido Key Drive from essentially the east end of Perdido Key State Park to where Semmes Road joins Perdido Key Drive. Within this corridor, addition requirements and incentives would be given to create walkable and aesthetically pleasing urban centers of development.
The next step for the Master Plan will be a final Planning Board public hearing anticipated for April 5, 2016, at 8:30 AM, after which the Master Plan will be sent to the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners. It was estimated that Commissioner review and potential approval would occur in June 2016. PKA members are strongly encouraged to attend these final sessions on an issue very important to Perdido Key’s future; public input can be crucial to final outcomes. For more on the meeting, see Pensacola News Journal article “Zoning to Implement Perdido Key Vision” by Carlos Gieseken at PNJ.com.
Master Plan Commentary
The Pensacola News Journal provided an update on the Perdido Key Master Plan in its January 11. 2016 edition, including relevant comments from PKA President Mae Dean. Although some expressed concern about the Master Plan, Andrew Holmer, Escambia County development services division manager, stated in the article that: “The whole catalyst behind it [the Master Plan] was the citizens out there,” he said. “That in itself should go a long ways toward calming anyone’s concerns because it is a citizen-initiated thing.” (PNJ article)