Q&A with St. Johns County Commissioner Jimmy Johns (District 1)

Q: Last month we discussed Hallowes Cove and the developer of RiverTown’s request to amend the DRI and build a 250-slip marina. Can you give us an update?
A: This issue is a good example of why I need to hear from people. I extend my thanks to those who responded about this issue. I heard from only one or two people in favor of allowing a marina, but many more who were against it. I especially thank those who were part of the historical process for this project and were able to point me in the right direction to research; it was very educational. I shared the overwhelmingly negative community response to the marina request with the developers and they withdrew the application.

Q: Can you shed some insight on the latest on the county’s tree ordinance?
A: At the last Board of County Commissioners’ meeting we had a preliminary discussion on six to 10 significant modifications to the land development code and one was the tree ordinance, which is very complex. We do want to protect canopies of trees and St. Johns County is so diversified, with everything from moss covered oak trees to scrub pines to palm trees. There is no one-size-fits-all. Like with the Hallowes Cove issue, now is the time for people to weigh in. I prefer to hear specific questions or recommendations. Residents can contact the St. Johns County Growth Management Department directly to learn more specifics about the drafts to the tree ordinance. It is worth noting that the tree ordinance does change from time to time and developments can be built according to the regulations at the time they were approved. So we have a broad spectrum of developments in proximity to each other with different rules.

Q: What is the latest on the county’s budget process (as of the interview date, May 16)?
A: Budget hearings will be held the week of May 20. This is the draft request by departments for their budget next year, basically a first round. Commissioners will ask questions in an effort to be responsible with taxpayer money. We need to hear from the public about their wishes throughout June and July. We do expect the budget to be an increase over last year, due to an increase in revenue from the tax collector, but we will need to spend a great deal of money on mandates from the state and federal government, such as the new requirement for bilingual voting supplies and information for the Supervisor of Elections.

Q: Can you give us some background on the increase in cost of recycling for homeowners?

A: At the last board meeting, we approved an increase in this cost to homeowners, which had not been increased for 10 years. It is due to basic supply and demand. China has been the primary receiver of recycled materials from the United States for many years, but lately the Chinese have found more and more garbage included with the recyclables the United States sends. So China reduced the amount they will pay for the recycled material and they reduced the percentage of garbage that they will accept as part of the recycled material. This resulted in an increased cost to the recycling company we contract with and ultimately an increased cost to the homeowner.

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.