Author Archives: Pamela Hall

What Happened to the Keep It Rural Park Plan?

On November 10th, KIR is supporting the adoption of the Welaunee Arch Master Plan (WAMP).  The Master Plan plan contains many of the components of the KIR Park Plan we proposed many months ago.  Here’s the run down:

  • Open Space set aside of 40% remains intact.  Over 1900 acres of the Welaunee Arch will eventually be designated as “open space” of which at least 1500 acres will (probably) be actually fully preserved as natural areas accessible to us all via the Welaunee Greenway and other trails and bike paths.  
  • This Open Space will include the option of creating a large habitat reserve in the northeast corner of Welaunee – by Roberts and Crump road, though an alternative development process that would result in leaving District 5 (Phase 3) undeveloped and “transferring” its open space to District 4 (Phase 2), the largest residential development area.  
  • This is what we negotiated in the last 3 weeks.  The creation of this habitat reserve is not guaranteed as we could not convince the City or the landowner that as they had already agreed to the 40% Open Space set aside, creating a habitat park was a good way to accomplish it.  They insisted that we come up with some sort of “option” for developers. We did. And finally they have accepted it.  BUT we must all work to make sure this actually gets fully implemented!
  • Canopy Roads have an additional 75’ to 150’ of buffer for trees to grow, saplings to replace them and a location for the Welaunee Greenway – the long linear park around the periphery of the Arch.  Given the condition of the land inside Welaunee and other considerations, KIR is satisfied that this additional buffer will probably protect the canopy road trees for a long time. Hopefully forever!
  • Buffers for existing Residential Development have been added to the Master Plan to protect Buckhead and at least as a nod to the extensive rural residences and agricultural lands to the north and east of the Arch.  This will continue to be an issue as Welaunee is envisioned as a suburban development but it is backed up against rural parcels of many different sizes and rural uses AND the huge, thousands of acres large plantations of the Red Hills.  There is a lot more protection that needs to be taking place for all of our rural land in Leon County.  Its NOT the next place to suburbanize!

What the Master Plan DOES NOT HAVE:

The Welaunee Master Plan does NOT have any clear description of an intent to build a PARK SYSTEM out of a substantial portion of the required 1900 acres of open space, protection of nearly 1000 acres of wetlands and floodplains, the requirement of much of the residential development to be clustered to create connected green spaces, and the potential for a 400+ acre Habitat Park.  The applicant – the City of Tallahassee – has remained silent on the value that such a park system would bring to ALL of the residents of Tallahassee, not just to the new residents of Welaunee.  They haven’t said a word about how this would be creating a connection from Elinor Phipps and the Overstreet Greenway, to this new Welaunee Habitat and the existing Miccosukee Greenway and then to the JR Alford Greenway.  The Welaunee Park System is the “missing” jewel in our Emerald Necklace.  This is what we need to convince the future City Commissions – the value of CONNECTED COMPLEX PARK LANDS!!  

KIR has done our best in setting the stage, making a “park like” system of open spaces, habitats, buffers and connected development part of the Welaunee Arch Master Plan.  So we support the Master Plan – and we support making sure it gets improved, fully implemented and the City of Tallahassee does right by its residents and make sure the developer of Welaunee does right by us!!

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Comments on Welaunee Arch Master Plan – Pamela Hall

Finally – we’ve gotten to a version of the Welaunee Master Plan that KIR can support.  We thank both commissions for the Oct 13 workshop direction to incorporate our idea that will, hopefully, create the Welaunee Habitat Park.

This Habitat Park is a component of a Weluanee Park System that KIR proposed many months ago.  We are happy to say that much of our proposal is being incorporated into the MP – but that was always an easy thing to do.  Because, unlike how it was often characterized, the KIR proposal was NEVER a mandate or a takings.  It was just a way to better organize the Open Space requirement the City and landowner had agreed to when this CP amendment was FIRST submitted in November of LAST YEAR.  We are thankful that both the City and the landowner agreed early on that an OS requirement is a good thing for such a large development and could be easily parlayed into an asset!

KIR proposed park system was well informed by data, analysis and expertise.  I remind you – in my previous existence I was a professional forest ecologist and a conservation biologist.  KIR board members also have similar professional experience. We know something about using open space well.

The OS requirement of 40% means about 1900 acres of land will not be developed within the Arch.  About 1000 acres of this is already identified as Comp Plan protected features such as wetlands and floodplains.  This leaves about 900 acres upland habitat – woods, fields and pine plantations that will also have to be set aside.  Note – HAS TO BE SET ASIDE.  This is NOT KIR mandate, this was in the MP from day 1.

Our proposal was to start with the 1000 acres of identified environmental features and use the 900 remaining acres to add:

  1. Extend the buffers for the canopy roads so those tree populations could persist in perpetuity and provide a place for the Welaunee Greenway.  This is in the MP.
  2. Create buffers for existing residential development and a separation of the Urban Services Area from rural land that are NEVER intended to be suburbanized. This is in the MP.
  3. Identify a large “Habitat” area, uninterrupted by human development, that supports ecosystem functions, protects imperiled species and coincides with the Urban services boundary buffer. This will be in the MP if you vote right tonight!
  4. And to still have plenty of land left over in the Open Space set aside requirement to create smaller parks and corridors within the developed area that would connect all of these together as development proceeds.  This is in the MP.

There was ALWAYS PLENTY of REQUIRED open space to preserve habitats  AND create lots of places for humans to walk, bike, ride and play.  And none of this changed development rights one bit.

Well – this is what we proposed last spring. So, thank you for finally understanding.

Please vote for the option that adopts the amendments that fully support the KIR alternative development program.