Escambia County commissioners agreed to ban private development of a big section of Pensacola Beach.
The commissioners also advanced a November referendum to give Escambia County voters a say on the issue.
By a unanimous vote, they also decided that future changes to zoning on Pensacola Beach will require a unanimous affirmative vote by county commissioners instead of a simple majority.
Those decisions Thursday followed months of heated public debate over the future of Pensacola Beach.
Save Pensacola Beach, an anti-development group, gathered over 16,000 signatures on a petition to put their referendum on November general election ballot.
The group’s proposed referendum would have asked voters whether they support the ongoing public ownership of Pensacola Beach, where commercial and residential development has unfolded under 99-year lease agreements.
County commissioners approved further public hearings for a different referendum that reads:
“On June 21, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners adopted a policy to prohibit any privatization through sale or lease of currently unleased properties, especially conservation and preservation properties on Santa Rosa Island. The resolution also confirms that the county has no position on fee simple. Do you support the Escambia County policy?”
The term “fee simple” refers Congressional legislation that would have undone a 1947 deed agreement that gave much of Santa Rosa island to Escambia County.
The bill, which passed the House but died in the Senate, would have allowed the county to give leaseholders clear title to properties they now lease on Santa Rosa Island. [Pensacola News Journal] – Mike Seemuth