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6,700 square foot gulf front restaurant and bar coming to SoWal

Discussion in 'Dining and Food' started by Jim Tucker, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

    Jul 12, 2005
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    Some members of the community are not hungry for a proposed restaurant project in their part of Miramar Beach. In fact, their response is quite the opposite.

    “The last thing we want is a great big honky tonk, just another Whale’s Tail or Crab Trap,” said Robert Burgess of the Seaspray subdivision.

    The people of Seaspray and surrounding communities have created a website and petition to bring awareness to the Walton County Commissioners about the general unrest surrounding the project. A meeting will be held March 13 to further discuss the project during the Board of County Commissioners meeting at the Walton County Courthouse Annex, 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard.

    Called the “Driftwood project,” the 6,719-square-foot restaurant is proposed to take the place of the dilapidated Murmuring Surf cottages at 551 Scenic Gulf Drive, approximately 240 feet east of Miramar Beach Drive on Old 98.

    “If there’s any plus side to this at all, it’s that those ugly buildings will be knocked down,” said Seaspray owner and HOA member Ken Annino.

    According to Burgess, owner John Terry will lease the nearly two acres of land to Destin’s Bonezzi Development Company, the company behind The Crab Trap, The Back Porch and Pompano Joe’s.

    The building footprint will be 60-foot by 104-foot on the lot, and is set to come no closer than 20 feet to neighboring Avalon Dunes apartments and the Seaspray public beach access.

    “Nobody’s really chosen to do anything with the property for a while,” said Jason Bryan with the Walton County Planning Commission. “It’s been owned by the Terry family for so long.”

    Calls placed to Bonezzi Development Company were not returned.

    In an earlier story, Bonezzi said there has been much “disiniformation” about the project he called “Dixie Seafood and Oyster Bar.

    “We just want to be a peaceful part of the neighborhood,” he said. “The building is designed so it will have minimum impact to our adjacent property owners.”

    But the measures fall short to residents.

    “They’ve offered to beef up vegetation,” said Bryan of the plans to limit the impact on the neighbors.

    “Well, I’m not opposed to development,” added Bob Fisher, president of the Avalon Dunes HOA. “It’s more the compatibility or usage they’re proposing.”

    The zoning for the property has been Coastal Center since the adoption of the current land use map in 1996, according to Bryan.

    Coastal Center zoning is primarily residential, according to the Walton County Comprehensive Plan. However, it does allow for the development of libraries, parks, retail, and restaurants.

    “We were surprised that a commercial-type usage would be proposed right in the middle of a residential area,” said Fisher, who is concerned about traffic, noise and smells that will accompany the restaurant development. “On the beach, there is no commercial development from Seascape all the way to Sandestin. It is all residential. It just does not seem to fit the area.”

    The proposal for the restaurant has been in the works since about a year, with no major changes to the initial plan, according to Bryan. The Planning Commission has already given their approval for the project.

    “As far as I’m concerned, the proposal meets our requirements,” Bryan added.

    And that worries neighbors.

    “There is such a certain charm there right now. It’s just so peaceful. I’m scared of losing that,” said Diane Anth, a Seaspray owner for five years.

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