Decision to approve exception for liquor store has some Mandarin businesses upset

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Planning Commission has voted to approve an exception for a liquor store off San Jose Boulevard, and the decision has some business owners in Mandarin upset.

The building where it would be built used to house a real estate business, and according to the city, in order to get a business approved in a zoning exception, the business has to promote public health, safety and morals.

Dr. Mackenzie Farnham is a dentist at Farnham Dentistry on San Jose. He said he’s frequently picked up used syringes he’s found outside the office.

“For the last number of months, we’ve been experiencing some heavy drug activity,” he said. “We’ve had to install security cameras.”

Farnham and his business neighbors in the Mandarin Square fear that if the liquor store is built, things might worsen.

Less than 350 feet from the building is a neighborhood where children play, the dentistry, a church and Debbie’s Dance Company.

“My concern is, well, people being drunk in the parking lot or things going on that children shouldn’t see,” said Debra Ford, the owner of Debbie’s Dance Company.

Farnham said he received a notice about Thursday’s zoning exception hearing, but affidavits show some of his business neighbors said they did not.

“According to the rules and regulations of the City of Jacksonville Planning Committee, they’re not only supposed to provide signage of the upcoming hearing for the exception, but they are also supposed to notify all property owners within 350 feet,” Farnham said.

Currently, there are five other liquor stores within roughly 1.9 miles from the building.

“If this liquor store is built, that will be the sixth liquor store within 1.9 miles. That’s pretty much three liquor stores every mile,” Farnham said.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office crime mapping tool, 25 crimes have been reported within a mile radius of the building within the past month, including grand theft, car break-ins and burglary.

Farnham said he and other businesses plan to file an appeal.

Requests for comment from the Planning Commission, the city and the building owner of the proposed liquor store were not immediately returned Friday.

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