Stevenson joins in vote to approve rezoning

St. Johns County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson responded to Historic City News after yesterday’s vote to approve a zoning and land use change that clears the way to build Anastasia Mosquito Control District’s proposed headquarters on Agricultural Center Drive.

An article in a local paper reported, “It took the commission four votes to reach a conclusion. Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson first voted against the rezoning, then voted against denying it, then ultimately made the motion to approve and voted for it.”

The rezoning was approved, with helicopters as a special use, on a 3 to 1 vote with Commissioner Phil Mays dissenting. Commissioner Mark Miner is at Fort Dix on military training and was absent.

Stevenson said, “Implications of a heliport on this property were not sufficiently considered for compatibility to the area.”

The $2 million, 8,000-square-foot headquarters occupying 9.2 acres on Agricultural Center Drive off State Road 16 has been the source of controversy for some time; even among members of the Anastasia Mosquito Control board.

Attorney Douglas Wyckoff, representing the district, threatened suit against the county if the land use change and rezoning were rejected. The county signed a memorandum with the district that it would approve both changes as part of a deal that allowed the county to build the new Emergency Operations Center.

According to Stevenson, “This land use decision allows them to proceed with the use of their property.”

Central to the drama over the use of the property is one member of the Anastasia Mosquito Control board, John Sundeman, who continues to be a lightening rod for controversy.

Sundeman claimed in yesterday’s commission meeting that the district is recklessly wasting money — to the tune of “$17 million over the next 20 years”. Sundeman contends that the district does not need this new building, which, he says, “will be 45,000 square feet” and cost “$6 million or $7 million”.

Sundeman has become more and more vitriolic in his attacks on the management of the Anastasia Mosquito Control district — where his opinions and insults of employees, as well as other board members, earned him a public censure.

Sundeman accused Attorney Wyckoff of “misleading” the commissioners, going so far as to allege that Wyckoff was “fired on the spot” in March of 2008 for similar dealings with another district in West Melbourne, Florida.

Wyckoff said, “We’ve got the land use change and rezoning. We’re happy about that. We’re looking to move ahead.”

The approval changed the zoning from “Open Rural” to “Public Service”.

Sundeman, who spoke before the board twice, emphasized that he was not speaking as an elected member of the Anastasia Mosquito Control district, but rather as a “private citizen”. In his second turn at the microphone, Sundeman took another approach — saying that if the board approves the district’s application, they are going to locate two helicopters on the property.

Sundeman caused a considerable distraction from the purpose of the land use application; raising the specter of excessive noise and risks to public safety.

During the public meeting, Stevenson clarified her position. “This is a land use decision. It’s not a policy decision on the role of government.” After the meeting, Stevenson told us “They had complied with the regulatory and public interest concerns that were raised in the meeting.”

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