JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents of two Jacksonville neighborhoods are pushing back against development projects that they say would create far more danger for vehicle and foot traffic.
The planned developments will be discussed during the Jacksonville City Council Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting Wednesday.
The two development projects — a 100-town home apartment complex and a five-story storage unit — are planned in different parts of the city, but residents of those areas have been organizing to oppose them for similar reasons.
At the corner of Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue in San Marco, there is a proposal on the City Council’s table to rezone an acre from a commercial central business district to a planned unit development district. That would open the door for a planned five-story storage unit facility that would also include some ground-floor space for businesses and restaurants.
But a group of residents in the area has been arguing against the rezoning and the project as a whole. Several spoke out at a council meeting last week.
“It’s a horrible plan. It goes against money that has already been spent by taxpayers to improve pedestrian safety and walkability in the Southbank area. Tourists use that all the time. We use that all the time,” said Jacksonville resident Pamela D. Sorensen.
Jacksonville resident Blase De Leo said, “It’s my hope, council members, is that when this does get to the vote that the story goes like this: You listened, you acted in the best interest of the community, you stayed fully committed to the 2019 comprehensive overlay and you unanimously opposed 2023-007.”
In Mandarin, developers want an area just off Livingston Road moved from low to medium density residential. That change would allow for a planned apartment complex, adding roughly 100 units to the area.
News4JAX spoke with nearby homeowners who have been working to organize against the development, posting signs throughout the neighborhood to get their message out and get it across to city officials.
Timothy White and his family have owned a house on the other side of Livingston Road for more than 20 years.
“Traffic being the main one. Flooding, I mean, we just had these ditches redone, but water has been an issue coming through here. So I’m sure adding 100 or 200 homes or whatever it is, is going to be an issue,” White said. “But traffic is the main thing.”
Homeowners say the traffic in this area is already backed up as it is — both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
That’s, in part, because of the area’s proximity to three schools that don’t do bus transportation and don’t enroll students of driving age.
White says 100 additional town homes will only add to what is already a problem.
“It’s just bad space by location, and obviously, none of us want that,” White said.
In Wednesday’s meeting, the panel could reject the rezoning proposals, putting a halt to the projects or could advance them to a vote of the full City Council.
Mandarin Church of Christ - Jacksonville Inc, also known as Christ’s Church, owns that plot of land in Mandarin. A statement from Christ’s Church reads:
Mandarin Christian Church of Jacksonville (Christ’s Church) is selling its Livingston Road property to Seminole Educational Facilities LLC. This sale is in conjunction to the property sold at 10850 Old St. Augustine Road in 2021. Christ’s Church has been a property owner, and neighbor in the Old St. Augustine/Livingston Rd. neighborhood for nearly 50 years.
Over the past several months the church has not participated in any public meetings, nor has the church been invited. Public meetings are held by city representatives and the developer.
Christ’s Church is proud of its partnership with the neighborhood and we do not plan for that to change, as we will always be an advocate for those that call it home.