JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pablo Point and Queen's Harbour residents said the fight over land in the San Pablo area is far from over, despite recently suffering a big blow.
Residents are concerned that Pablo Point and Picarsa roads would be extended north to make room for a new development, bringing traffic and ruining their quiet neighborhoods.
Despite their worries, the city of Jacksonville Planning Commission gave the green light for the project. If the proposed development is approved by the full City Council, 20 to 40 new homes would be built on the land, which is owned by George Hodges.
"I'm sick about it. I'm just plain sick about it," said Patricia Hairston, a Pablo Point resident.
Pablo Point neighbors told News4Jax Friday that they feel as if City Hall is not listening to their concerns about safety and evacuations.
"Because (Hurricane) Matthew, when it came, we were in an evacuation zone because of the Intercoastal here. It would have been very difficult to get out," said Mary Jo Brown, another resident of Pablo Point.
Some people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades said they couldn't believe it when they first learned in March that the land would be developed and their quiet neighborhood could soon be overrun with traffic.
"We all walk here. People jog. People bike, push strollers," Brown said. "There's no sidewalks."
Many residents in nearby Queen's Harbour off Atlantic Boulevard are also concerned because the development would back up to their neighborhood.
Numerous people who live in both neighborhoods showed on Thursday afternoon at the Planning Commission's Thursday afternoon meeting, at which the board unanimously voted against them, saying the developer has a right to build on the property.
But residents said the fight is far from over, and they still have a fighting chance with the full Jacksonville City Council. Residents, however, added that finding a land use attorney seems downright impossible.
"We're at a big disadvantage because we can't hire attorneys. You know why? Because they all work for developers and they don't want to be on the wrong side of the developer," said Dale Nessmith, a Pablo Point resident. "So here we are, citizens just trying to protect our neighborhood and our right to a safe neighborhood."
The next step for the residents will be to take the issue to the city's Land Use and Zoning Commission on June 6. Eventually, the full City Council will decide whether the development goes in.