Cedar Avenue will soon be home to a 100-unit apartment complex after a unanimous vote of Niceville’s City Council on July 12th.
The council previously rejected a plan to put a 100-unit complex on the plot of land which rests on the western portion of Cedar Avenue north of 27th and south of 31st street, because the development did not have a plan for sidewalks on the western portion of Cedar.
In a plan presented to the council – the builder, Randy Wise Builders, would build a sidewalk from the complex’s entrance south to 27th street. The city would build a sidewalk to the north of the complex on the west side of Cedar Avenue.
Because the proposed project is near a flood zone and requires stormwater mitigation efforts to take place – Councilman Abner Williams asked about stormwater mitigation plans the engineers had for the project.
The engineer for the project, Matt Zinke, told the council that the project was engineered to sustain a 25-year flood. A 25-year flood is, well, a level of flooding from a rainstorm, hurricane or other event that could reasonably be expected by planners every 25 years.
Planning for more than a 25-year storm would be cost-prohibitive, according to Councilman Sal Nodjimian. “You don’t design 100 or 1,000 year storms you design to a realistic storm level, which in our municipality, or this region is 25 years,” Councilman Nodjimian said.
Lawyer for the project, Stephen Tatum, told the council the project would improve the stormwater situation – because the large project would have stormwater mitigation, whereas the smaller, lower density individual homes which are in place now do not. “you’ve got a bunch of houses out there already that have no stormwater plan at all,” Tatum said. He told the council that the same issue also held for the commercial building currently on the property. “[Rain is] not being retained anywhere, it’s just runoff in the [body of water, called a branch, next to the property]. Our project will help retain all of that water on the site… But for an average regular rain event, yes, it will be retained on the site, and will actually improve what’s happening now.”
The only other cause for consternation amongst the council people and citizens assembled to talk about the apartment housing was the potential effect it would have on traffic congestion.
“I feel like Don Quixote,” said Chris McLeish. McLiesh was one of two citizens who spoke about the project at the meeting. “I think the density is a little strong.”
David Brown, another resident, told the council he was worried about the amount of traffic that would have to get through the light where Cedar intersects with State Route 20. “I use that intersection on a daily basis,” Brown said, “and with the semi-trucks coming from the fuel depot and all of the people that use that thoroughfare on a daily basis.. My main concern is that we are going to add an additional 100-200 cars per day.”
Zinke reapproached the council with a study from 2021 from the Florida Department of Transportation which showed the council Cedar Avenue was at 48% capacity. Attorney Tatum added that the complex, at its peak hour would add 46 trips to the intersection.