Chairman’s Message: Protecting & Supporting Destin Community
I would like to share with you my thoughts on a few things that have been happening around town lately.
The first item of concern is the City of Destin Comprehensive Plan. The City recently adopted revisions to the Comprehensive Plan to address concerns that had been raised with the tier system that everyone agreed allowed development that was too intense. Shortly after the adoption of the latest revisions, the City began a process of preparing more changes to the Comp Plan. Citing items of concern with the recently adopted revisions, the City had a consultant review the Plan and propose additional changes.
While the Destin Chamber agrees that there are some areas of concern with the recently adopted changes to the Comp Plan, we have concerns with the drastic changes that have been proposed by the City and we have presented our concerns to the City Council. In my opinion, our biggest concern is that the changes proposed by the City Council will limit the ability of the business community to develop the mixed-use projects that have been identified as desirable. Additionally, the proposed changes may limit the ability of property owners to rebuild what they had before if there is a major disaster.
We don’t think that the Chamber’s position is diametrically opposed to the City’s, and we intend to participate in the process to ensure that the interests of the business community are represented. Whatever opinion you may have on this matter, it is important that you pay attention to the opportunities for public comment and participate in the process.
On another note, it was recently revealed that there is a plan to get a referendum out on a ballot to adopt a one-half cent sales tax to support school infrastructure improvements in Okaloosa County. The Destin Chamber has come out in support of this proposal. Why would we support such a proposal? Because it is a good investment in public infrastructure, it is a good investment in the education of our children, and it is a good investment in the economic future of Okaloosa County. The proposed referendum would generate money to make infrastructure improvements to all schools in Okaloosa County.
Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently praised Florida’s business and education leaders for their collaborative efforts to address education needs to develop talent for the future. It is imperative that we continue to develop the right talent to meet the future job growth in Florida. One of the basic building blocks to developing that talent is ensuring that we have the basic infrastructure, school buildings that are in good repair, to teach and train the future workforce of Florida.
On a final note, I would like to express my displeasure with the recent opinion piece written by Del Stone in the Northwest Florida Daily News concerning the naming of a new high school in Destin. Although he claims it was an attempt at humor, I found the piece to be vulgar and in poor taste. The article clearly shows that he does not know the people of Destin and he doesn’t understand that Destin is an economic engine for Okaloosa County, generating revenue in sales taxes, ad valorem taxes, gas taxes, and bed taxes that benefit all the County. I am not sure why he is allowed to continue to write articles that show such disdain for our community.
2017 Destin Chamber Chairman
Destin Water Users, Inc.