Marianna city commission denies rezoning in special meeting

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    Paul Donofro

    Marianna city manager Jim Dean opened the meeting saying the town hall meeting was requested by the commission to discuss the zoning change just to the north of Three Rivers Apartments where the zoning would change from R1 to R3 if approved, “We have a developer here, Arbor Valley and I think they have some information they would like to present as part of this process.”
    Commissioner John Roberts asked if their presentation included a map of the property and what was located around it.
    Arbor Valley’s Tyler Zoghby responded, “Yes, sir and, you have a copy in your grey folder there. There is a map on the website that details the property specifically.”
    Zoghby thanked the commission for allowing them to come speak to them about the project. He also thanked Commissioner John Roberts and the citizens who came out and looked at the property in DeFuniak a few weeks ago.
    He gave an overview of the proposed project, stating it would be an 80-unit complex. There will be 10 separate buildings with eight units per building. He said the units would be large units, consisting of one, two-and three-bedrooms apartments, “There are pools scheduled in the amenities offered. Our apartments are designed with our residents in mind, with a strong focus on the community. We try to bring our residents together in our common areas. We typically host game nights and pot luck dinners. These are all there to provide a nice atmosphere and community center for our residents.”
    Zoghby stated management was usually located in that same building, “to allow access to our managers by our residents. He stated the apartments are all electric, HVAC, dishwasher, washer/dryer connections, ceiling fans, open floor plan and we typically have very upgraded kitchens compared to what you would typically see in an apartment.”
    He gave the waiting lists he had attained for housing in Marianna, giving more reason for the need for the additional apartment complexes in Marianna. He showed the commissioners photographs of other properties they have opened now.
    Heidi Weaver addressed the commission as being opposed to the zoning change based on the crime calls to the area located near where this complex is proposed to be developed. She said it was changing so much, the density, the zoning and she said she would encourage them to reconsider changing the zoning due to the people who are residents there.
    Paul Donofro, Jr. also spoke to the commission, “I am one of the residents that live in the area close to where this development is proposed. I spoke last time and I said this and I still maintain this, I am not opposed to it and I am not in favor of it at this point in time. What I did hear from the developers tonight did allay some of my concerns. My main opposition to this development was to assure that we didn’t have the same type of physical development that can be described as Garden Apartments, which is a barrack-style development which has been proven over and over throughout this entire country does not work on a social level. From what I can see from the presentation of the developers, this is more like Orchard Point which is a development south of Marianna. And I think this might present an opportunity to upgrade that whole area, to actually improve that area by bringing in a development that is more positive for that area.” Donofro went on to ask if this zoning change occurred, what were the chances of this development actually occurring. He inquired if there was a 10%, or 100% chance that it would occur. Commissioner Roberts said, “Basically our ordinances don’t allow us to grant a conditional variance. Basically, I think if we vote for this, there’s a good chance but there is no guarantee.”
    Commissioner Roberts outlined the layout of the development in DeFuniak and praised the job they had done as far as the level of housing in that particular complex. He encouraged others to make the less than one-hour trip to DeFuniak to look at that particular complex.
    Commissioner Roberts made a motion to approve the zoning change from R1 to R3 but it died for lack of a second.

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