Williamson gives the reins to the Santa Rosa Commission

As two separate groups continue to pursue the incorporation of Navarre, State Representative Jayer Williamson has said he will take a hands-off approach to the process until a non-binding referendum with at least 60% of support reaches his office, leaving it to the Santa Rosa County Commission to define any additional requirements.

The two groups currently advocating for incorporation, Preserve Navarre and Navarre Area United PAC, are both at roughly the same stage in the process. In addition to a referendum, the incorporation efforts require the completion of a feasibility study and the drafting of a city charter.

Leaders of both groups – Wes Siler with Preserve Navarre and Jonathan Cole with Navarre Area United PAC – previously told the News Journal that they plan to complete their respective charters and feasibility studies by next spring with the aim of ” organize a referendum on the November 2022 ballot.

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Even with Williamson’s approach, Santa Rosa County District 4 Commissioner Dave Piech, who represents Navarre, said he wanted to set up a meeting with Williamson sometime after Thanksgiving to figure out what he will do and will not advance in the state legislature.

“It’s all in his court, the only thing we decide is whether something happens on a ballot or not,” Piech said.

This latest move to turn the Santa Rosa County unincorporated community of Navarre into its own town comes after several failed attempts in recent years. In 2019, NAU PAC did not receive the necessary petitions to secure a referendum on the 2020 ballot. Before that, in 2014, a non-binding referendum failed with only 44% of voters in favor of incorporation.

In this case, Williamson, R-Pace, told the News Journal that he saw no scenario in which two different soft referendums could be submitted to the Legislature because separate groups cannot incorporate in same time. He said the smartest thing these groups can do is consolidate – something they’ve already said isn’t going to happen. He added that the process of determining how the non-binding referendum is conducted rests with the county commission and that he does not see himself involved in it.

“Until (a non-binding referendum) happens, I have no practical experience, I don’t need or want to meet with groups or anyone about it,” Williamson said. “They have to work in the community and get there.”

He added that neither group had come out on top so far.

“It doesn’t really seem like anyone has taken the lead in Navarre to organize,” said Williamson. “So much has to go into this process, and it seems like no one has stepped forward to be this lead organization.”

Piech said he wanted to see the County Commissioners Council codify the process of recording measures on county ballots. In the last attempt to incorporate Navarre, one of the proposed requirements was to obtain signed petitions from 8% of registered voters in the constituencies within the proposed city limits, but it is not a specified requirement this time around. -this.

Siler, along with Preserve Navarre, has already expressed his opposition to what he says are arbitrary demands. But Williamson said he thought refusing to get community input was a red flag.

“The right thing to do is present it to the people of Navarre and let them decide whether they want it or not,” Williamson said. “And my thoughts would be for the group that doesn’t want to do this, why are they so afraid to let all the Navarrese talk?”

Williamson pointed out that there are many steps outside of his personal requirements that both groups still need to meet before the process moves forward.

“It’s a lot of work to create a city. It should be,” said Williamson. “But that’s where I think a bit of that is lost. It’s almost that my non-binding referendum is what keeps them from being able to incorporate.”

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