City Council passes Mandarin rezoning plan

Project to bring 3 businesses to San Jose Blvd. at Oak Bluff Lane

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was a late night Tuesday at City Hall as council members discussed a controversial zoning issue in Mandarin.

After hours of heated debate, Jacksonville City Council approved the development of a plot of land where a Chick-fil-A and other businesses are slated to go.

This has been controversial because so many people who live in the area have said they don't want it. They're concerned about the amount of traffic it will bring to San Jose Boulevard and Oak Bluff Lane. But with some conditions, the council gave the OK and construction will soon begin.

In an 18-1 vote, the council gave the developer permission to build a Chick-fil-A, another restaurant and a bank branch at a parcel of vacant property on San Jose Boulevard and Oak Bluff Lane.

"I think it's great for Mandarin, and if you look at every other corner on San Jose and a secondary road such as Oak Bluff, from Beauclerc all the way to Julington Creek, they all have access to San Jose and access on the secondary road, every one of them. Why is Oak Bluff different? It's not," said Chris Alberre, who supports the project.

The residents who oppose the development have protested on the street corner and held a town hall meeting about it. They said there's already too much traffic in that area.

"I am disappointed. I really am. I was hoping the council would take in our concerns because we really did have legitimate concerns, and I felt like they were all brushed over, that we were just the bad children pitching a temper tantrum and we wanted to be heard more," said former councilwoman Sharon Copeland.

Neighbors who opposed the project said they felt like they didn't have the support of councilman Matt Schellenberg, who represents that area of Mandarin. Schellenberg was in favor of the development, but councilman Stephen Joost also lives in that area and is the at-large council member. He's the one who voted against the project and rallied against it with residents.

The council agreed to the project with five amended conditions to alleviate the concerns residents have about traffic on Oak Bluff Lane.

Among the conditions: no deliveries between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the drive-through of the Chick-fil-A has to be on a certain side of the building and people exiting the businesses on Oak Bluff Lane can make a right only towards San Jose Boulevard.

Despite these concessions, neighbors are still unhappy.

"It was a difficult situation really, no very good options for the community. There was a great deal of confusion as to what was acceptable and what wasn't acceptable to the developer," said former city councilman Jack Webb.

A few of the other concessions include increasing the buffer between the development and neighbors and hours of operation will be no more than 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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