ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County officials have proposed a plan to commercialize part of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Cemetery’s land.
The county’s communications manager says retail and business space would be built in front of the cemetery off State Road 16, But some people disagree with the plan and want to keep the land sacred.
St. Johns County officials submitted an application to rezone 12.34 acres of the cemetery land to make room for 54,000 square feet of commercial buildings. The retail and business buildings would be built in front of the cemetery. The county is calling it Mill Creek Crossing planned unit development.
The cemetery, which is located a half-mile to the west of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, has been used as a burial site since the late 1800s.
Terry Pacetti, who’s from the same family that Pacetti Road near the church is named after, says he’s not happy about the proposal.
“My mom and dad and uncles and aunts are buried there,” Pacetti said. “The idea of commercial development appalls me.”
Pacetti says he’d like to see the cemetery continue to grow as more Catholics move to the area.
“I’m not opposed to growth, and I’m not opposed to building things,” he said. “It should definitely be set aside for growth purposes for the cemetery.”
Sam Pacetti, who’s part of the same family, has a mother and other family members who are buried there. He says he doesn’t agree with the plan.
“They don’t care about honoring tradition or, in this case, the sanctity of our deceased relatives,” he said. “It just seems to be a really bad idea. And by what I’m seeing already through friends and people who are in the know, they are mad that this idea would even be considered.”
There is a community meeting scheduled for March 3. People will be able to participate in the planning of the project over Zoom.
There is no set date yet for rezoning the land.
News4Jax reached out to county officials to talk about the plan but had not heard back as of Monday evening.