Q: Can you comment on the latest amount of growth we are seeing in St. Johns County?
A: There has been a lot of conversation about growth struggles and stresses lately, but some of the growth is not new development. Take, for instance, the Entrada development in the Wildwood Drive/State Road 207 area. This is merely a new name given to a combination of three previously approved (back in the 2000s) Planned Unit Developments. It is back in the conversation because in order to combine the three previously approved developments, the developer had to come to the county commission. The rules are different for developments now and we were able to get some improvements to this property: the developer will be putting in a water main as well as a new east-west road to connect 207 to Wildwood, which will allow for quicker access for emergency vehicles. This is of benefit as the development now meets today’s standards and the roads are private and won’t require county maintenance — all without increasing the number of homes that were already approved (approximately 800).
Q: What can you tell us about Greenbriar Downs, recently approved to be built along Longleaf Pine Parkway?
A: This project went through more quietly than anticipated. It is an age-restricted (55 and older) development and more than half of it will be wetlands conservation land. Other concessions made by the developer include a change from single family unrestricted to about half and half single family attached/single family detached residences; privatization of all roads in the development; and about six acres of the commercial parcel near Creekside High School was dedicated back to the county for best use, which could be a park, a fire station or a library in the future. This approval is a good example of the developer listening to the concerns of the county and the constituents and making beneficial changes.
Q: As of the date of this interview (March 14), the county commission is yet to meet about ways to fund beach renourishment. How in general will any decision about this affect District 1?
A: Funds used for beach renourishment affect the Northwest because the county commission is considering reallocating or changing the use of tourist development tax (or adding a fifth cent to it) to include beach renourishment. If this passes, the general funds that might have been used for beach renourishment would now be available for things like Parks and Recreation that would benefit the Northwest. It all comes back to the push-pull of needs and funding sources for our community.
Q: Speaking of this, can you give us a preview of the upcoming budget season?
A: I would really encourage people to pay attention to this process this year. I sense there will be a major change coming where things that might have been effective in the past might not be appropriate today. We need to hear from people so the county administration can allocate funds effectively. The three-day budget hearings will be in May, but by that time, the money has already been allocated as a draft to each department. So we need to hear from people now.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (904) 615-7437.