Pensacola Beach May Allow Double Lots Under Proposed Rule Change
Homes in Pensacola Beach could become castles under a proposed rule change which would allow for the combination of residential lots. As reported in the Pensacola News-Journal, the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which is the governing body that controls zoning and development regulations on the island, is considering changing a long-standing rule which currently prohibits developers from crossing lot lines to build a new structure. If two adjacent lots are owned by the same party, and new home built must be contained on one lot only.
Property ownership and development on Pensacola Beach is governed by a unique structure. Technically, there is no private ownership of beach property on the island. Ownership and control of beach property is in the hands of Escambia County. Under the deed agreement that transferred thee property from the federal government to the county in 1946, the county cannot outright sell property to private owners. Rather, the county issues 99-year leases that allow private developers to build on designated parcels.
The proposal to allow construction that crosses lot lines is not without controversy. Opponents of the change, including some members of the authority, worry that smaller property owners would be pushed out by wealthy developers set on building beachfront “McMansions.”
On the other side of the debate are those concerned about infringing on property rights and deterring investment in Pensacola Beach.
Whether the current rule stays or goes, it is a good illustration of how zoning and land use issues can impact the plans of developers and investors. Especially when it comes to property along the coast of Northwest Florida, laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal level can present obstacles that can be difficult to overcome without seasoned legal counsel.
At McDonald Fleming Moorhead, our experienced Pensacola real estate lawyers assist clients with zoning and land use legislative and administrative approval processes in connection with the acquisition, development, leasing, sale/exchange or use of real estate. In addition to counseling and working through the maze of local, state and federal agency reviews, our attorneys are prepared to handle administrative appeals and litigation. We work with our clients’ site development planners, traffic engineers, surveyors, civil engineers, site acquisition specialists, property managers and leasing directors to formulate and implement strategies to accomplish our clients’ development objectives against the complex backdrop of local regulations.