Planning Commission sides with residents in battle over proposed Mandarin development

Developer wants to build 21 homes off County Dock Road; residents oppose plan

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville Planning Commission on Thursday sided with residents in a battle over a proposed development in south Mandarin. 

A developer wants to build 21 homes on 9.5 acres off County Dock Road, near Loretto Road and just south of Interstate 295, and rezone County Dock Road to allow more traffic.

But residents believe it would ruin their neighborhood. 

At the Planning Commission's Thursday afternoon meeting, commissioners voted 5-2 to deny the rezoning motion -- saying it had concerns that County Dock and Loretto roads were not adequate for access to the new neighborhood. 

Before the vote, dozens of residents showed up at City Hall to protest the proposed development in south Mandarin. But others told News4Jax earlier in the day that weren't even going to bother voicing their opposition because they thought commissioners would side with the developer. 

Ahead of the meeting, Dennis Sandell, who lives near County Dock and Loretto roads, voiced his opposition about the proposal to develop 21 homes in the area. 

"We're completely upset about it. Totally opposed to it," Sandell said. 

Sandell said he and his neighbors are fighting the proposal because it would ruin the historic area and it would be dangerous. He also said city leaders have not listened to their concerns. 

"He said, 'You people in Mandarin just want to build a wall in Mandarin and not let anyone else in.' Well, that statement, to me, is pretty inflammatory, and to be honest, it's pretty insulting," Sandell said. "My fence has been knocked down seven times, so that's a safety concern. You put 21 more houses, and there's four now --five now -- does that mean my fence is going to get knocked down 30 times in the next 10 years?"

Sandell and his neighbors attended the city planning meeting, during which Paul Harden, who represents the developer, pushed to get the road rezoned. 

"These are superb locations. They're superb in size. They're going to be very nice, very expensive houses," Harden said.

The motion still has to go through the city's Land Use and Zoning Commission on June 6. It would then go to the full City Council. 

Harden said he will not comment until after the June 6 meeting. 

Though they're still concerned the motion will pass in the end, residents said, Thursday was a victory for them. 

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