A new development project proposed for our area's coastline is approved to move forward--a move that some local residents are skeptical about.
The first step is made to transforming the Taylor County Coast.
An environmental Resource Permit is approved for The Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary. This means the Suwannee River Water Management District is authorizing the construction of the multi-million dollar waterfront project proposed for Dekle Beach.
Trey Howard, the attorney for the development project, said, "It's a more inland development than before. The original development was more geared toward water recreation. There will be some passive water recreation, kayaking, canoeing."
St. Petersburg developer Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt first proposed the $700 million Magnolia Bay project.
Howard says because environmental concerns hindered the permitting process, Dr. Pruitt renamed the project to The Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary and significantly scaled down the development by eliminating the marina and not digging a two-mile channel.
Tallahassee resident Laurie Graybar is from Taylor County and is visiting her family's beach home. She said Dekle Beach has always been a safe haven. "Our fear is we bring in more population and we're not familiar with those people, we no longer can let our eight year olds run around and have that kind of freedom that my son has down here."
The new plan includes: 624
condominiums, a 400-room hotel, commercial center, boardwalks and an 18-hole golf course.
Dekle Beach native Hope Harvey said, "For Taylor County, it could be a huge economic stimulus. However, for the residents down here it's just a little bit hard to swallow because we like the quaintness of it. So I can definitely see both sides of it."
The project has to go through several more permits.
Construction cannot begin until there's a land use change with Taylor County and approved by the Department of Community Affairs.