Councilman hopes to find compromise in push to rezone Pumpkin Hill neighborhood

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A continuing land fight in the Pumpkin Hill neighborhood, which is in the northeastern portion of Duval County, has both sides looking for a compromise.

The fight involves a push to rezone land right in the middle of the Pumpkin Hill Preserve and build nearly 100 new homes. Residents say it could increase flooding in the area and make homes vulnerable to fires.

“A lot of the flooding in our area gets absorbed here before it goes downtown,” said resident Sharlene Byrum.

The land is also right across the road from trees that have seen flames in the past. Residents are also concerned about things like controlled burns.

“You see these trees are charred here. That’s from prescribed burns. That stuff jumps,” said neighbor Joel Butler.

The residents brought their case to the City Council and made impassioned pleas. The landowner is represented by veteran land rights attorney Paul Harden.

“This piece of property is not in a preserve,” Harden says. “It’s a privately owned piece of property that this council specifically excluded from 5,000 acres of land that is overlaid in the area. Because that overlay is in place. There is not precedential value.”

The Jacksonville City Council hopes to find a compromise. District Councilman Al Ferraro is trying to negotiate that compromise.

“We’ve sat down already once. Going to talk again. Laid out some of the things. We’ve put out 29 homes that we think would work in this area,” Ferraro said.

Ferraro points to just up the road where other land has already been cleared, he says, raising the already high flood risk in the area.

Council is slated to take this up again at their meeting on Feb. 14.

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