Letter: Heavy smoke from Woodlawn land clearing
Kenneth Kinnecom, Chairman
Board of Supervisors
Heritage Park Community Development District
In 2007, work began on a multi-acre new community being developed by the title holder, Woodlawn PUD. It is across the street from my neighborhood at the west entrance of Heritage Park Drive.
The recession brought a stop to the work being done on the site; however, a few weeks ago, the contractor re-started clearing the land of the remaining trees, bushes and wild growth that have accumulated over the past few years.
Many homeowners have reached out to me regarding the heavy smoke that settles over the six sections of Heritage Park from the poorly controlled burning.
In an effort to improve the methods being used to control the burn, and abate the resulting smoke, I visited the St Johns County Fire Administration office on Gaines Road, which borders the future home building area. The officer told me they do not regulate the burning process and gave me a brochure listing the locations of the Florida Division of Forestry.
I called Division of Forestry office in Bunnell to make a community complaint about the smoke. I learned that the land clearing company obtains a permit to burn at 4:30 a.m. for the day of burning. I doubt they know the wind direction and speed in Heritage Park at that hour of the morning when they are a 45-minute drive away.
The smoke is most noticeable when the wind is above 10 miles per hour. Anyone with respiratory problems could feel the harmful effects of the smoke today, because of the higher than normal winds.
A neighbor and a Community Neighborhood Watch homeowner observed two Division of Forestry vehicles in the area. They attempted to stop the driver; who would only roll down his window and said, “Not now.” I assume they were at the site to investigate the burning.
Not long after, we noticed most of the land clearing equipment was idled; and suddenly, the fire was out and the smoke blew away. Apparently, the Division of Forestry did their job. I trust they will watch this project very carefully in the future.
Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News contributed photograph by Raphael Cosme