Zoning board members accused of retaliatory recommendation

Posted on October 16, 2019 by Romi White

Zoning board member Don Richards, a District 5 appointee, and Jeremy Reeder, a District 1 appointee,  pictured laughing during sarcastic comments in the October 10 meeting video.

Three Santa Rosa County zoning board members are under scrutiny following comments they made ahead of a controversial October 10 recommendation, which some citizens say was revenge for voters rejecting by a landslide the October 8 local option sales tax referendum.

Santa Rosa County Commissioners on October 21 will address the zoning board members’ comments ahead of the October 10 vote to recommend a rezoning request which could put traffic over capacity on Woodbine Road in Pace.

“I watched the entire Zoning Board meeting and agree the comments made were completely inappropriate. We will be addressing this in our Board Meeting,” stated District 4 Commissioner Dave Piech in a reply to a citizen about the issue.

During that October 10 zoning meeting former Santa Rosa County Attorney Angie Jones represented property owners seeking to change a 9.7-acre parcel on Woodbine Road from rural residential to highway commercial district zoning.

Jim Waite, who is employed by Baskerville-Donovan Engineering firm in Pensacola and was appointed to the zoning board by District 3 Commissioner Don Salter, stated that although he had previously stated he would not support any rezoning on Woodbine Road, in the wake of the vote against the sales tax increase he would now support it.

“On Tuesday I was reminded by 70% of my friends that I totally had no idea what I was talking about, traffic’s not an issue, so I was totally wrong when I made that statement before, and I have no issue with your development,” Waite said.

Jeremy Reeder, a financial planner with New York Life in Pace appointed by District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker, sarcastically echoed Waite. “Yeah I was just gonna say I think the Santa Rosa County voters just voted that there is not a traffic problem on Woodbine Road, so…”

Jones, who is now in private practice with Locklin, Saba, Locklin & Jones, P.A. in Pace, then interjected, “or anywhere else.”

Scott Kemp, a former employee of Lockheed Martin who resides in Gulf Breeze but was appointed by District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole, also chimed in. “Yes, I believe that the voters spoke very loudly saying they are very, quite comfortable with Woodbine Road as it is, and I can’t see it requiring a change even if the LOS goes to increased level. I think that’s part of the game now,” Kemp said.

Additionally, during the October 10 meeting, the zoning board denied recommending four requests to approve changes which would allow a CEFCO gas station on Highway 87 S at High School Boulevard due to nearby residents concerns’, including light pollution.

The commission’s committee meeting will take place at 10 a.m., Monday, October 21 at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex, located at 6495 Caroline Street in Milton. Citizens can email commissioners about related concerns via bocc@santarosa.fl.gov.