I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

OLF, Beulah, and Master Plans......Part II

A few people are talking about a master plan for Beulah, a few people.  But of the hundreds and hundreds I have met throughout Beulah over the last year as I campaigned door to door, I must say not one mentioned as their priority creating a "Master Planned Community" for all of Beulah.  Not one.  I heard a lot of  people concerned about unsafe roads, speeders in their neighborhoods, leash laws not being enforced, traffic on 9 mile road, concerns about unsafe intersections (Beulah and Mobile Highway, Millview Road and Mobile Highway, Klondike and Mobile Highway), and concerns about unsafe, narrow roads with no shoulders (Beulah Road, 8-Mile Creek Road, Klondike Road, Wilde Lake Blvd).  But nobody uttered the phrase "Master Plan" as even a part of their concerns about Beulah.  As a matter of fact, as a 12 year resident of Beulah, I hadn't ever heard anyone talk about making Beulah a "Master Planned Community".  This almost seems like a solution looking for a problem.....  This is just not something I have heard, as the only candidate in the race for county commission that is a full-time resident of Beulah.  So,  with this small group of vocal proponents of a Master Plan speaking up recently, I thought it might be prudent to discuss the differences between a Master Planned Community for Beulah, and the $635K Master Plan proposed as Phase I of the Restore Act project for OLF8. 

We can do either or both, a "Master Plan for OLF8" and a "Master Planned Community"---but this is a POLITICAL decision that must take the views and wishes of the entire community of Beulah into account, and it must not be rushed through for political expediency like a square peg being driven into a round hole.  So lets talk about what each of these concepts entails, with an emphasis for what is contemplated for OLF8....

There is a difference between a MATER PLANNED COMMUNITY and the OLF-8 MASTER PLAN under consideration in the RESTORE application.

Two different approaches.

A MASTER PLANNED COMMUNITY (Disney’s Celebration, FL, Texas' The Woodlands, Del-Webb properties in the Desert Southwest.) has a very strict program; where every area within the planning limits is pre-determined for a specific purpose. Beulah residents may (or may not) desire to have government bureaucrats imposing strict facility types, designs and precise land use requirements and control over their private property.

In the OLF 8MASTER PLAN considered in the RESTORE application, instead of bureaucratic governmental imposition, the approach involves considerations for streamlined and effective government investments – while maximizing flexibility for private land owners in the area.  The Beulah home owners I met with on their porches over the last year did not indicate to me that they wanted additional layers of bureaucracy thrown over their property-rights like a giant governmental wet blanket.  My sense is that the majority of Beulah residents I spoke with want infrastructure in place before additional development takes place.  The good news:  The project to 4-lane  9 Mile road is beginning from Mobile Hwy to Pine Forest.  The new interchange from Beulah Road to the interstate is planned and programmed.  These two projects will do much to alleviate the consternation over traffic congestion expressed by many Beulah residents I have spoken with.  So what is it, beyond these traffic issues,  that Beulah residents really want?


The purpose of a RESTORE application was to convince the committee to approve a grant for Master Planning. It is a promotional document. It is not comprehensive (thus the need for a Master Plan); but it alludes to some of the strategies for providing a well-integrated and cost effective planning product – and project. As such, there could be any number of considerations with such a master plan. But in the application, there are two areas of programming focus with regional implications that are promoted:

            A) Community Economic, Physical and Programmatic Synergies.
            B) Regional Infrastructural and Environmental Considerations.

In the case of (B); the primary challenges are transportation, storm water and environmental protection. Other infrastructure (water, sewer, gas, power, communications, etc.); are currently under development with the various providers as part of the NFCU project. Those extensions would be a more routine consideration.  So the application tends to focus on the big considerations and lifts.

A1: Develop background information and input. Public information, studies, master planning, etc. (not done at Ellyson).

A2: Develop background information regarding process and timeline. Ensure that public Master Planning funds are not invested until the correct time. (Don’t waste public money).

A3:  Develop clear synergies with other programs, including state and local economic Plans and Programs, for example:

A4: Ensure that State and local economic development program goals are integrated into the Master Plan.

A5: Establish a clear regionally competitive purpose for the project. (Site Inventory). Does it work?

A6-A8: N/A 

A9: Identify and take advantage of any opportunities to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of public investments.  Look for opportunities to satisfy multiple local economic objectives with a single program.

A10: Ensure the project meets regional programmatic goals and objectives in terms of targeted industry sectors. (Regional plan integration and synergies).

A11: Consider previous conclusions and concepts, update base assumptions as required.

A12: Consider indirect regional economic and business impacts and advantages. (not done at Elyson).

B1: Consider expanded regional FDOT transportation infrastructure investments and work program. Consider new interchange and the associated node enhancements.   

B2: Consider the specific site relationship to general geophysical and topographic conditions in the basin and area.

B3: consider integrating approaches and salvaging areas that provide for area-wide environmental and conservation benefits. (not done at Ellyson).  

B4: Consider options for integrating and providing synergies with surrounding developments, programs and existing planned development. (not done at Ellyson).

B5: Ensure that the project approach is considerate of regional environmental protection needs. (not done at Ellyson).

B6: Consider high altitude options for development and the associated basin-wide environmental risks and benefits. (In this example, clustered approach vs. dispersed approach). Which is best?

B7: Consider integrating environmental protection technologies with surrounding developments in the planning approach. (not done at Elyson).

B8: Consider where the site is positioned in terms of existing regional transportation nodes.

B9: Integrate planning with the TPO program, including new major initiatives in the region. (New interstate interchange). What happens when the new trip generator is in place?

B10:  Consider proposed projects in the area that will also serve as major trip generators. How does the FDOT work program plan to address the traffic projections? (Program integration and synergies).    

B11: Consider site-specific strategies for mitigating regional transportation impacts.

B12:  Consider regional impacts to Eleven Mile Creek basin and Perdido Bay watershed.

B13: Integrate Community-wide lessons learned into the OLF 8 program.

B14: Maximize environmental green space; develop strategies for conservation / recreation. (not done at Ellyson).

B15: Develop specific strategies for integrating design approaches for recreation and environmental preservation with surrounding developments. (not done at Elyson).

B16: Consider ways to enhance surrounding basin health by improving on existing conditions.

B17: Consider providing a new standard for environmental design for large public projects.

A thorough reading of what is contemplated for the OLF8 Master Plan above indicates that there are significant benefits to the entire Beulah area that will come from this plan;  And the citizens of Beulah will have multiple opportunities to provide input at public meetings regarding the use of this property via public comment and input at MULTIPLE junctures throughout the process.  This process will be open, transparent and inclusive. 



Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,
Please consider using part of the former OLF property for a R/C or (Drone) park. It seems that the old landfill park is going to generate more complaints from residents. Industrial parks make good areas for flying and other R/C uses because people normally do not want to build homes in these areas, and many compamies are closed on weekends when most R/C activity occurs.
Lou Toth

Jeff Bergosh said...

Lou, thank you for your suggestion and I will look into that as a possibility.

Pamela Snyder said...

Hello Jeff,
Your blog is very interesting and informative. As a 15 year resident of Beulah, I do have one concern that I do not see being specifically addressed: protecting the rights of livestock owners in the area. It is not uncommon for newcomers to an area who do not have an agricultural or rural background to complain about the realities of livestock raising and seek to have the livestock owners' rights restricted. What plans do you have in place to deal with this?
FYI, "eludes" and "alludes" have very different meanings.
Thank you for your time,
Pamela Snyder

Jeff Bergosh said...

Pamela Snyder---I support the private property rights of citizens that live in Beulah and I do not support restricting those rights. I support the rights of those citizens who are legally permitted to have livestock to continue to enjoy this right. I'm a Republican, I am a conservative. I believe in LESS governmental control of citizens and communities. I have seen firsthand the damage that government over-regulation and disregard for existing property owners' rights can do--- here in Pensacola and in other parts of the country where I have lived. People move to an area knowing what is already there, then these same people begin to complain about the very thing that had been there before them, and the next thing you know---shazaam---the people that were there first have their rights restricted. I saw this unfold in San Diego where I lived and went to college in the 1990s---Lindbergh Field is a giant, international airport in the heart of downtown near the bay. Area that had been set aside as a buffer zone was re-zoned after heavy pressure from developers and single family homes were built. Next thing you know, the new residents in the flight path complained about the noise from the airport, and next thing you know, the airport's operations were restricted meaning fewer flights and higher costs. Here in Beulah, one subdivision was built very near to where model aircraft enthusiasts operate their planes on the weekends. Suddenly, this long time practice is simply "too loud" for a small number of these new residents. Weed whackers" leaf blowers and lawnmowers are not a problem, but now an occasional RC airplane being flown in the distance is "unacceptable??" Come on. Now, there are those ( a very small number of folks) that are calling for a highly structured "master planned community" for all of Beulah---which could very well limit the rights of property owners to own horses, chickens, goats, cattle, or other livestock. I will reiterate: I support the rights of all property owners to use their property the way they see fit, within the parameters of the current sector plan and land development code. Those that want more structure and rules can move into one of the numerous subdivisions currently existing in Beulah or under construction. I live in one. I live with restrictions (no trailer in the driveway, certain structural design limitations for my house, HOA fees, etc. etc.) but for the hundreds of property owners I spoke with in Beulah during the campaign, making the entire community a "master planned community" was just not something I heard. People don't want a giant governmental wet-blanket tossed over their land rights. Sure we all want our traffic infrastructure to keep up with what is allowed to be built out here---that is something we all agree on so that is what I will make priority #1. Hope this lets you know unequivocally how I feel about your rights on your property. And thanks for the grammar catch :)