Q: Do you have anything updated to share about the property on State Road 13 and Otoes Place that is owned by First Coast Energy?
A: First Coast Energy has applied to build a Neighborhood Commercial development, which they are allowed to do. The property is properly zoned for this and the project will not come before the Board of County Commissioners. 

I have heard the concerns of the community and have directed staff to talk to First Coast Energy to attempt to convince them to save more of the trees. I’m on the side of the residents, but we don’t have any legal standing to require this. I’ve also asked our staff to impress upon the applicant about the safety concerns regarding an entrance to the property from Otoes Place as there is a bus stop there. Due to basic planning principles in our own development code, though, having two points of ingress and egress to the property is desirable.

The last time I checked, staff had indeed met with residents and then relayed their concerns to the applicants. 

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Q: What is the latest on the Shamrock Sports Proposal, presented to the Board of County Commissioners in July that sought to develop, in partnership, a recreational sports facility along State Road 16A?
A: This proposal required a land swap to add 33-acres of property to the county’s present site. Our staff looked at it and this 33-acre site is already being dug as a pond by the Florida Department of Transportation for use in the construction of the First Coast Expressway. Without this land swap, the potential offered by the investors for the additional soccer fields to support the professional soccer league is not possible. The county ballfields as initially planned for the original 40-acre county site will still be built.  

Q: What is the status of the budget process for fiscal year 2024?
A: The Board of County Commissioners will vote on the final budget at our regular meeting on Sept. 19. We did decide to fund 18 new firefighter positions to keep up with the growth of the county; their calls for service have increased markedly. Also, funding for LAMP (Land Acquisition and Management Program) was increased from $500,000 to $2 million for fiscal year 2024. We are continuing to build our war chest to buy land for conservation.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 1?
A: We are currently conducting a national search for a new county administrator. We will receive applications until Sept. 15 and our goal is to have a new administrator in place by the end of October. We have hired a consultant to help us filter through the hundreds of applications we expect and our search committee, made up of Commissioner Henry Dean; Clerk of Court Brandon Patty; St. Johns County Director of Human Resources Lilian Hutchinson; and Jerry Wilson, a community/business representative, will do interviews. The final three candidates will appear before the Board of County Commissioners.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at  bcc1cwhitehurst@sjcfl.us or call me at (904) 584-5348.

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