Pace residents win closure to neighborhood entrance

Article Courtesy of The Pensacola News Journal

By Anne Delaney    
Published April 16, 2017


A group of Pace residents succeeded in their efforts to close off an entrance to their neighborhood.

The Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners on Thursday approved a request by residents of the Cross Roads subdivision to block off Berryhill Road and Stratford Lane.


During a lengthy public session, several residents spoke about the issue, and the majority were in favor of the closure. The 90-member homeowners association has voted 76-14 in favor of closing off the entrance.

Commissioners did not, however, approve a gate, which would have only been accessible to emergency responders. Instead, the commission opted for a guardrail to be installed by the county.

Director of Public Works Stephen Furman said the guardrail will be 40 to 50 feet long and cost less than $2,000.

"We had a positive outcome," said Stratford Drive resident Phil DeProtine, a board member of the Cross Roads Homeowners Association. "It's not a gate, which is totally acceptable."

DeProtine and others advocated for the closure in the face of increased traffic through the neighborhood. Residents expressed concerns that the traffic will only increase as a new Publix opens later this year on nearby Woodbine Road.

Russell Madison, a resident of Victory Drive in the Cross Roads subdivision, was one of two residents who spoke against the closure.

Pace resident Russell Madison expresses his opposition to closing an entrance to the Cross Roads subdivision during a Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2017.


He said the HOA does not have a legal right to speak for the neighborhood's residents. Madison said the issue for him is a matter of convenience.


"I like two ways in and two ways out," he said. "I never want to live somewhere where there is one way in and one way out."

DeProtine responded by saying the HOA is not setting itself up as an official organization.

"No one is required to be in the homeowners' association," DeProtine said. "We are grassroots."

District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker, who represents Pace, supported closing the entrance. District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole took his support a step further, saying the board should establish a policy to get ahead of similar requests in the future.

Cole suggested future policies might require that an HOA be a bona fide organization and that it take over control of the roads once the county determines the roads are in good condition.

"If we don't set a board policy, then we're opening a Pandora's box," Cole said. "I support this 100 percent. I want safe communities, but it is a public road and how do we sit here and say we're going to close a public road?"