Pace residents pushing to close entrance to development

Article Courtesy of The Pensacola News-Journal

By Anne Delaney

Published January 28, 2017


For two years, residents of a Pace development say they have been trying to get an entrance to their neighborhood closed.

Homeowners in the Cross Roads Homeowners Association will get a chance to make their case to close the Berryhill Road entrance to Stratford Lane before the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners next month.

In October 2015, 76 of the 90 homeowners in the association signed a petition in support of closing the road, which has been used for several years by drivers as a cut-through route to avoid traffic congestion at a series of stop lights in the Five Point area.

“We’re all really excited,” said Nicole Hardy, a Stratford Lane resident and president of the Cross Roads Homeowners Association. “We all have children, and we want them to be safe. My kids know they can’t ride their bikes unless I’m with them.”

With assistance from new Santa Rosa County Commissioner Sam Parker, who represents the Pace area, the residents’ proposal will be on the commissioners’ meeting agenda Feb. 6.

Parker met with Hardy and fellow homeowners association member Phil DeProtine last week to look at the area. The commissioner also did some canvassing of the neighborhood on his own to get residents’ views.

“The fact is property owners in the neighborhood want it,” Parker said. “Everyone I talked to in person was supportive of (closing the entrance) because of their children or grandchildren.”

Residents say the traffic through the neighborhood will get worse with the construction of a Publix supermarket scheduled to open later this year. They are hoping to construct a gate at the Berryhill Road and Stratford Lane entrance to the neighborhood. The gate would allow for emergency vehicle access only.

Residents of the Cross Roads subdivision in Milton petitioning the county to close the Berryhill Road entrance to their neighborhood. The residents are citing an increase in the through traffic to Chumuckla Hwy. for the closure.

“(The cut-through) has been a hazard for years,” DeProtine said. “And we expect it to be seriously impacted by the market.”

Parker said Publix will contribute $1,500 toward the cost of closing the road. Hardy said the homeowners association will chip in the difference and the residents will raise additional funds, if necessary.

“We’re pretty relieved that this might be over soon,” Hardy said. “To have this road closed off, it will improve the neighborhood.”

The 46,000-square-foot Publix is under construction on nine acres between Woodbine Road and Chumuckla Highway. Jim White, president of White Development Company that purchased the property in 2015, said vertical construction on the building is expected to begin Feb. 15.

White Development Company is also doing off-site work surrounding the store on behalf of Publix, including widening a road, making improvements to a water line and drainage and installing two traffic lights. One signal will go in on Woodbine Road at Cobblestone Drive at the entrance to Stonebrook Village. The other light will be installed at Chumuckla Highway and Stratford Lane.

White said the cost of the traffic signals is about $1.5 million. He said he did not know the total cost of the additional work, but called it “unusual” because the development of this kind of retail store usually follows a previously installed traffic signal.

“We think the store is going to do really well there,” White said.