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Debate over rezoning wetlands in Gulf Breeze
Some people who live along Soundside Drive in Gulf Breeze are protesting the request of a land owner and a land developer to rezone a wetlands area that's near their homes. The plan is to build new homes that would add up to a 50% increase in density if all the lots were developed under the new zoning requirements.
Channel 3's Kalie Desimone spoke to residents who have several concerns about the possible rezoning of the land.
This beautiful and lush 184 acre of land is in Gulf Breeze and could be where 700 homes are built if a new rezoning plan goes into effect. "The people who live out here love it and we love it because of the tranquility" says Carolyn Couch, who lives just feet away from the affected property.
The people who live out here say that tranquility is in jeopardy. "I was surprised to hear someone was trying to rezone from R1 to R1A. But I didn't know what it meant" says Couch. Carolyn Couch and her husband have lived on Soule Drive which runs perpendicular to the land that could be rezoned for more than 20 years.
Couch says she called her County Commissioner and found out exactly what the 'R1A' zoning meant. "It's going from 4 homes per acre to 6 homes per acre" Couch. But Couch says over crowding is just one of her worries. "I thought no there's no way this area can handle that kind of traffic" says Couch.
Traffic aside, there's also concerns about where run off water will go and how the 184 acres as well as the neighborhoods around it would fare during a hurricane or flood conditions. But perhaps most important to Dr. John Couch who is a retired Biologist from the US Environmental Protection Agency are the creatures and plants that currently live on that land. "I would like to see that little bit of fragile habitat preserved for them if possible" says Dr. John Couch. Dr Couch says there are a number of animals who live on that land and appear both on the State and Federal Threatened Species Lists.
Now the couple is urging others who live on Soundside Road to take action. "Send letters to County Commissioners and ask them to not go any further with this" says Carolyn Couch.
County Commissioners will vote this Thursday on whether to hold new quarterly meetings in Tiger Point.
If that vote passes, a public hearing on the issue will be held in August.