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Councilwoman's plan to revitalize parts of Arlington takes spotlight

Joyce Morgan hopes to change 'concrete jungle' appearance

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A city councilwoman led a meeting Monday evening, explaining her plan to revitalize commercial corridors in Arlington.

District 1 Councilwoman Joyce Morgan held the meeting at River City Baptist Church on Merrill Road, which is along one of the key commercial pathways in Arlington. The corridors are the focus of Morgan's ordinance that's called the Renew Arlington CRA Zoning Overlay.

"It's uniformity, standards that we really haven't had in Arlington, and as you know, Arlington is an older suburb," Morgan said. "It came up at a time when there weren't as many uniform laws. You will see a lot of concrete that's different from some of the other neighborhoods that are planned now."

Morgan pointed to the success that other neighborhoods in Jacksonville have had in setting standards and renewing their appearance. She said the ordinance would offer $20,000 grants for businesses to improve their appearance.

"We're talking about fencing. We're talking about landscaping," Morgan said. 

Bill Large attended Monday's meeting and, as a former business owner, he had concerns. He doesn't want the community reshaped to be a cookie cutter of other places in Jacksonville. Large believes the legislation would be hard on some business owners.

"The grant is very little compared to what they're going to have to pay to update or comply with the ordinance," Large said. "It's going to, possibly, put a lot of businesses out of business and that's what concerns us."

Concerns were welcome at the meeting Monday night, where Morgan earned some credit for trying to keep things transparent. 

Morgan released a statement saying:

"District 1 has an opportunity to change the concrete jungle appearance to a more pristine and inviting area."

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the measure on June 11. There will likely be a vote on the ordinance two weeks after that.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.