A petition urging Santa Rosa County commissioners to prevent a developer from building a housing complex inside the Navarre Beach Marine Park has garnered over 1,700 signatures from both Navarre locals and visitors.
The change.org petition outline the developer’s plans to construct a 134-unit condominium complex in the park, which would consist of four 4-story buildings and two 6-story buildings.
The developers will first need to acquire a lease amendment for the property, which is currently zoned commercial.
The current commercial plat only allows for a 3-story, 50 ft. x 200 ft. metal dry-storage marina, which is currently in the property’s 50-year lease.
But the lease amendment will have to be approved by commissioners before ground can break on the project.
Nancy Forester, a local who put the petition online back on May 25, said the plans for development do not correspond with the Navarre Beach Master Plan, which was created years ago to protect the beach from over-development.
“It isn’t in line with what’s on the Master Plan for Navarre Beach,” Forester said. “I do understand this is private property and that the park surrounds it, however the original owner’s (Bob Sikes) intent was to at least keep the nature and beauty of the park by building a marina. They can build a marina. They are allowed to do that.”
Vic Deal, one of the developers, said they are not interested in constructing the marina. “Therefore, we are required to request an amendment,” he stated in a May 17 letter to the Navarre Beach Leaseholders and Residents Association, seeking their cooperation.
In order to build the condos, the developers must first get an OK from county commissioners for an amendment change. Forester said she plans on presenting the petition to commissioners when they plan on discussing the amendment.
“I would like to talk to each commissioner in person. I’ve been told the developer has spoken with each individual commissioner so I think I need to get my voice heard by each individual commissioner as well,” Forester said.
The Master Plan was developed to protect Navarre Beach’s barrier island from over development in certain areas that needed special consideration. The Navarre Beach Marine Park being one of those areas.
The Master Plan was also drawn up in order to protect the coastal barrier system and is compatible with both human population and shorebird nesting areas for our black skimmers, least terns, plovers and other habitat.
“This park means a lot to me and I enjoy it,” Forester, who has lived in Navarre for 16 years, said. “I am all for nature and preserving that, but I feel we need to preserve this park…at least the way the original owner (of the property) intended. It’s the last little bit of a community tourist park we have here.”
Forester said she drew up the petition when no one else would and has even gone out onto the beach and let visitors know about the petition, urging them to sign it.
“I was afraid this (issue) would get by me and it would get approved,” Forester said. “Someone needed to step up and say something…and I did. I didn’t want it to get approved without having a say on it. There is the argument it could bring a lot of money into the county. I don’t think any amount of money is worth destroying the essence of that park.”
Several other locals have voiced their opposition on the development including Navarre resident and Florida Master Naturalist Kenny Wilder.
“I am 100 percent against any residential or commercial development within Navarre Beach Marine Park. Period,” Wilder told South Santa Rosa News back in May.
Forester said that in order for the developer to build the condos on the property, several things would have to be done, including a major change to the infrastructure of the beach.
“Our infrastructure is not set up to support the addition of 134 condos. Our water and sewer system on the beach is basically equivalent to what was in existence in 1970,” Forester said. “The impact from the sewer and water would have an impact on the sound because they are wanting to run the pipes for it underwater.”
The developer has a goal to break ground on the project within the next 40 days. Currently, the county had not set a date to vote on the amendment.
Want to help?
Visit change.org and search for “Save Navarre Beach Marine Park” and sign the petition