67ºF

COVID-19 cases put city council meeting in jeopardy as Lot J drama unfolds

City Council President Tommy Hazouri told News4Jax on Friday he is not ready to vote just yet on the deal.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The drama at Jacksonville City Hall continues over Lot J and the COVID-19 crisis.

Lot J, the proposed entertainment complex at the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium, was front and center at City Hall this week with some Jacksonville City Council members arguing with each other and the mayor’s staff over the city’s role in the controversial deal.

At the same time, News4Jax has learned that several city council staff members who attended those meetings are now in quarantine due to the coronavirus.

City Council President Tommy Hazouri told News4Jax on Friday he is not ready to vote just yet on the deal.

He said there is still missing information and he has more questions that still need to be answered. Hazouri went on to say that some of that is starting to happen and is expecting a new document this weekend that might have some of those answers.

Hazouri said some of those could come to light at a special meeting next Thursday on Lot J. But that meeting could also be in jeopardy because some council staff members are becoming ill.

That is why News4Jax asked about which the council held the meetings in person and not virtually as it had done in past.

Hazouri said it’s not his call. It’s a state issue, he said, because there is no longer an emergency mandate which allows the council to meet remotely.

“There is no other choice. [Gov. Ron DeSantis] has not extended [the order]. You have to have 14 [members] present and that is what we are dealing with,” Hazouri said. “I am not going to take a cursory attitude about it and say well one person got it so we’re going to close down the government. I don’t know if that is needed right now, but in the next couple of days we may know more.”

During a recent meeting on Lot J, there was finger-pointing and harsh words between council members and the mayor’s staff. Last Tuesday night’s meeting ended with the council deciding the let the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) do a review and report back.

Mayor Lenny Curry told News4Jax it’s up to the city council to decide.

“Once we give them legislation, they have to do their work on it,” Curry said. “I’m sure that review [from the DIA] will happen. I think what’s important is they’ve got the legislation, my team, and the Jaguars are available to answer questions.”

Curry said he hopes the city council will have a vote on it sometime in December.

Hazouri said that depends on the answers they’re getting from the latest documents they are expecting to receive from the Jaguars and the Lot J development team which could be discussed at a special council meeting next Thursday.

“In the end, nothing may change and it’s going to be voted up or down or move on,” Hazouri said. “And that’s where I have to come in and figure out if it’s time to take a vote or if it’s time to cool down and wait till after the first of the year.”


About the Author: