Q: Do you have any updates on new development in the Northwest?
A: We do have lots of news. The Cinemark Theater is now open. Because of the success of Phase 1 of Durbin Park, the developer has moved up Phase 2. This second phase will be on the east side of 9B and is working through the permitting process. I don’t have a timeline for when it will come to the Board of County Commissioners, but it will first be a conceptual phase. We are probably a year away from land clearing.

Also, the clearing taking place at Greenbriar Road and Longleaf Pine Parkway is for a commercial/retail development that was approved about a year ago and is unrelated to the previously denied commercial development proposed for Roberts Road. This area of County Road 210W/Greenbriar Road is where commercial development belongs — on major thoroughfares and not on community streets.

Q: Do you have any comments regarding the sudden closure of the Earth Fare store, which basically just opened?
A: This is very unfortunate. This type of store (green grocer) was requested by the community for this area and I passed the information along to the developer at the time. The decision to close was a company-wide decision by Earth Fare and not due directly to this store. My hope is that another green grocer will occupy this space, but I have no knowledge and the county commission has no control over tenants. But I do plan to continue a dialog with the developer. We don’t expect this property to remain vacant for long.

Q: When will the new fire station open?
A: There is a “finished construction” date and an actual “opening” date … in between is training for the people who will work at the station. I’d say it should be open in the late spring/early summer timeframe. This area of St. Johns County has some of the highest insurance rates due to the distance to the closest fire station and subsequent response time. The opening of this new station will help with this, so homeowners should check with their insurance carrier once it opens; they will likely see a reduction in their insurance costs.

Q: Where are we in the budget cycle right now?
A: We are leading up to the budget cycle for the 2020 – 2021 fiscal year. I really want to start the conversation now about where people would like their tax dollars spent. Also, where would they like the money to come from? I’d ask people not to wait until the budget process is more finalized, because then we are more limited on what changes we can make. I’d like to thank everyone for their participation in the past in this process. It’s not often we have a surplus as we did this year, and it was not only due to the economy, but also due to thoughtful input from constituents.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with NW St. John County?

A: The 2020 Census date is April 1. By this date, you should reply either online, via phone, or paper copy. The first page of our county website, www.sjcfl.us has a sample of the actual census questions.
Scammers are already actively working our area. A few things to note: no one will call on the phone you to get your Census information and you will not be asked for credit or debit card information or your social security number. Beware of these things. Someone from the federal government may knock on your door later this summer if you haven’t yet responded to the Census, but that’s it. 

It’s important to respond to the Census because this is how we are eligible to get our federal tax dollars back to us — to the tune of $14,450 per person over a 10-year period. St. Johns County had a 79 percent participation rate in the last Census. The population that did not respond cost us approximately $1 billion that we were not eligible for. Also, the Census determines representation at the federal level. The state of Florida could possibly gain as much as two representatives in Congress as a result of this Census. Right now, St. Johns County is split between two congressional districts, which dilutes our voice. Possibly we could be represented by a single representative with the new Census numbers. So be sure to answer the Census!

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Readers can email me at bcc1jjohns@sjcfl.us or call me at (904) 615-7437.

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