Wakulla Gardens: Retrofit Challenge

Community Planning Assistance Team Report



Platted in the 1960s, Wakulla Gardens is an extremely dense residential subdivision in rural Wakulla County in the eastern panhandle of Florida. Once rural with small fishing and farming communities, the county is now one of the fastest growing counties in the state with sixty percent of the working population commuting to Tallahassee for employment. Wakulla County has five over-platted subdivisions that were created in the 1950s and 1960s, part of land scams that were never intended to be developed. Wakulla Gardens was one of these land scams with nearly 4,000 lots that were sold at county fairs across the country by real estate speculators promising a retirement haven in beautiful Wakulla County. Only 2,500 of the lots are considered buildable because of wetlands and flooding issues and the area lacks essential infrastructure. Though 25 percent of the lots are built out, Wakulla Gardens continues to develop. Impassable roads, flooded homes and septic tanks, and contaminated ground water are among the many problems that residents face. Current estimates for retrofitting Wakulla Gardens with water, sewer, stormwater management and paved roads total to more than $34 million. Wakulla County requested CPAT assistance on how to move forward with addressing the infrastructural issues.

The team's report offers two main types of recommendations — infrastructural and social. The report also touches upon forces and trends Wakulla Gardens can use to its advantage such as building relationships with local businesses and educational institutions and exploring ecotourism. The team also identifies potential federal, state, and local funding sources for improvement projects.

Meet the Team

Stephanie M. Tillerson
Team Leader

Stephanie M. Tillerson, AICP

Stephanie is currently the City Manager for the City of Woodruff, South Carolina, where she is a strong advocate for smart codes, sustainable growth policies, and bikeable and walkable communities. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute, where she co-chaired the "Next Steps" Committee at the 2009 South Carolina Upstate Region Reality Check and has participated in two Technical Assistance Panels. She is very involved in her community, where she is President of the Junior League of Spartanburg and sits on the USC Upstate Foundation's Board of Directors and the Chamber of Commerce Economic Futures Group, as well as a number of other commitments. Stephanie is also the past recipient of the Upstate Forever's Public Servant of the Year Award.

Douglas Martin
Team Member

Douglas Martin, AICP

Douglas has worked for municipal and county government in Northeastern Illinois for 15 years. Currently, he is the Deputy City Administrator for the City of McHenry, IL, where he has been employed for the last 11 years. Douglas is responsible for all planning, zoning and economic development activities in the City. He is also responsible for oversight of the City's Construction and Neighborhood Services Department, which includes property maintenance and administrative adjudication. Douglas has past experience working with tax increment financing districts and reviewing fiscal impact analyses. He has also worked with subdivisions to discuss sanitary sewage systems. Douglas holds a Master's Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Darren J. Asper
Team Member

Darren J. Asper, AICP

Darren Asper provides clients of Delta Development Group expertise in various areas of planning, disaster preparedness, and economic development. As Senior Vice President, Darren leads a growing and diverse team of experts in economic and community planning, funding strategy development, market analysis, facilitation, disaster preparedness solutions, and higher education consulting. Darren's efforts have led to recognition by the Pennsylvania Planning Association for "Outstanding Community Initiative." Recently he has been conducting environmental modeling, housing studies, and capital improvement planning for communities affected by the Act 13 Impact Fee in the Marcellus Shale. He was named a Central Pennsylvania "Top 40 under 40" business leader in 2005.

David Berg
Team Member

David Berg, AICP

David Berg has been a land use planner and environmental analyst for Cameron Engineering for over 14 years. He has studied degraded estuaries and recommended watershed land use changes to restore estuarine water quality. David has developed low impact site plans, including designs and specifications incorporating green stormwater management, environmental restoration, and open space preservation. He has prepared land use plans that incorporate smart growth principles to redevelop older suburbs into communities where people of mixed incomes and ages can live, work, and play in a pedestrian-friendly environment. David is the former Director of the Long Island chapter of the APA and a founding board member of Vision Long Island, a non-profit that promotes smart growth and livable communities.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 18, 2012
American Planning Association

Table of Contents


Executive Summary

Project Overview


History and Background

Affordable Housing

Challenges Faced by the Community

Recent Wakulla County Initiatives

The Community Planning Assistance Team

Community Cohesiveness and Representation


Wakulla Gardens Neighborhood Association

Community Projects Coordinated by the Neighborhood Association

Road Infrastructure

Existing Conditions and Concerns

Paving of the Primary Access Roads and Connectors with County Funding

Paving of the Secondary Roads with Local Funding, County Equipment and Manpower

Wastewater Infrastructure

Existing Conditions and Concerns

Proposed Sewering

Sewering Alternatives

Step: Low-Pressure Collection System

Septic Tank Effluent – Vacuum Collection System

Community-Based Treatment Systems

Stormwater and Flooding

Existing Conditions and Concerns

Stormwater Conveyance Pipes and Swales to Constructed Ponds

Strategies to Reduce Density

Inventory of Potentially Available Properties

Property Donations

Acquisition of Lots for Dual Purposes

Lot Consolidation

Use of Easements to Reduce Need for Acquisitions

Use of Land swaps

Transfer of Development Rights

Vacation and Annulment of Plats Subdividing Land

Other Area Development

Neighborhood Commercial Development

Capitalizing on Local Institutional Resources

New Development in Crawfordville

Ecotourism in Wakulla County

Funding Opportunities



Federal Funding

State Funding

Local Funding

Concluding Remarks

Meet the Team