CHIPLEY — Economic Development Council Chairman Gary Clark announced plans for a large scale, mixed used development called Washington Crossings on Tuesday at the Washington County Planning Commission meeting.
The 600-plus acre development is being spearheaded by Tom Watson, and the developers are expected to come back before the planning commission in a few months with more detailed plans, Clark said.
“They want to begin development of this property, and they want to do it right,” Clark said. The development is located in the south western part of the county, and is expected to include residential, commercial and industrial zoning.
Clark said that the Economic Development Council would like to see 100 to 200 acres of the development set aside for industrial zoning.
“Mr. Watson wanted you to know about the project,” Clark told the commissioners. “We’ve been working with them. This is a long term development process, not something that is going to spring up overnight.”
Commissioner Roger Hagan asked if all of the property was located within Washington County. “As far as I know, it is,” Clark said.
Clark also told the commissioners the county’s Economic Development Council is working to refocus its efforts toward bring businesses into Washington County based on the resources and strengths of the county.
“We have developed a three-year strategic plan,” Clark said. “We want to focus on communication between our various organizations, and have more collaboration between the EDC, the county and the cities.”
Clark said the council is laying out a new set of targeted industries for the EDC to seek for locating in Washington County. The development of the Future Land Use Map, which the commissioners have been working on, can be an important tool in the recruiting of future industries to our area, he said.
Besides being chairman of the EDC, Clark was appointed to the governing board of the Northwest Florida Water Management District in March by Gov. Rick Scott.
Clark said he agreed to serve after the district’s executive director, Jon Steverson, contacted him. Clark said he realized having a representative in the district from Washington County would be a benefit to the region. He also said the idea of working with Steverson was appealing.
“You can’t find a more honest, hard-working man than Jon Steverson,” Clark said. “I’ve learned more about hydrology in the last few weeks than I ever thought I would.”
“It’s a privilege to serve on the Northwest Florida Water Management District board, and don’t hesitate to contact me,” Clark said. “I want to help make sure Washington County and the other rural counties are represented.”