Letter: County considers development rules revision


Letter: County considers development rules revision

Cyndi Stevenson
Board of County Commissioners, District 1
St. Johns County, Florida

As your elected representative on the Board of County Commissioners of St. Johns County, I feel a personal and professional obligation to provide you with accurate information.

Below you will finds some clarifications that are needed to correct misunderstandings that are circulating in the blogosphere regarding a proposed change to the rules governing land use in St. Johns County related to Gated Communities in the NW Sector Plan. The Northwest Sector Plan applies to the land west of I-95 and north of CR-208 in St. Johns County, Florida.

• The County Commission supports a variety of neighborhoods and housing. This allows residents to choose the kind of place they would like to live.

• Current provisions in the North West Sector Plan encourages connectivity and discourages Gated Communities because the residents who helped design the plan wanted to avoid the need for six and eight lane roads that divide communities.

• The proposal is to change the wording in the NW Sector Plan to state that new Gated Communities are allowed. We are working on wording that makes it clear that some provisions for connectivity and bike and pedestrian mobility would need to be considered on a case by case basis.

• Why connectivity provisions in a Gated community? Connections and interconnectivity when well-planned reduce pressure on congested roadways and intersections. This helps keep residents safe when they are in their neighborhoods or as they travel outside their neighborhoods. They also help reduce emergency response times.

• Widening roads and expanding intersections comes at a great cost to existing and future residents in terms of tax dollars. Connections can be private, or public.

• Approval of new communities with gates that would block convenient access of other residents to grocery stores, parks and schools in adjacent areas might only be acceptable if bicycle or pedestrian connections are included in the plan prior to granting development rights.

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can watch the most recent public hearing which includes this topic under Item 9 of the June 5th Planning and Zoning Agency through links at the County website at www.sjcfl.us The video archive is filed under the Government TV Department and can be viewed on demand. The full hearing which includes this item is broken into two segments labeled Item 9 and Public comment.

The County is considering revisions to rules governing development in St. Johns County.

We welcome public input to the proposals which include the item described above; you can direct your comments by email to skonchan@sjcfl.us or to the County Commissioners at their email addresses listed on the website. It is essential for our success as a democracy that we have an informed electorate and the ability to hold public discussions on the people’s business without descending into political diatribe.

It takes a civil dialogue for us to work through real issues. Please take a look at the presentation and send the County Commissioners or at least the planning department so we can have the benefit of any observations and suggestions you may have.