By Martie Thompson

Neighbors along Marbon Road in Mandarin have received a momentary reprieve as the submission for application of rezoning of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority property has been put on hold by representatives of the potential developer.

According to Sawyer Ridge Homeowners Association president Robert Lambert, the developer may still submit the necessary documentation to restart the process in the coming weeks.

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At issue is the potential sale of property owned by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and used as a Park and Ride lot at the corner of Marbon Road and San Jose Boulevard. Pending rezoning, developers have proposed building a strip mall on the property with a small grocery store and two smaller retail units plus an outparcel unit. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority would retain a small area containing 30 parking spaces for its Park and Ride.

The entire project would take up what are actually two pieces of property, according to Lambert. The conceptual site plan prepared by England-Thims and Miller, Inc. shows two accesses to the property off Marbon Road and one off San Jose Boulevard, prompting the homeowner association groups to request the results of a traffic study. It was shortly after this request that the rezoning project was put on hold.

Jacksonville City Council Member Matt Schellenberg, who represents Mandarin, hosted a public rezoning meeting for this property on June 22 at the South Mandarin Library and said that in meetings he had afterwards with the potential owner and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, it appears the potential owner is taking the residents’ concerns under advisement.

“He has heard what the residents said at the meeting and they are contemplating potential changes going forward,” Schellenberg said.

Lambert estimated that at least half a dozen homeowner associations from the Marbon Road vicinity were represented at this meeting. Homeowners in Sawyer Ridge, a relatively new cul-de-sac community of only 12 homes, are most concerned about the proposed 35 – 50 feet of buffer between the back walls of the proposed retailers and the side yard of homes in their subdivision.

Additionally, Lambert said that after walking the undeveloped property closest to Sawyer Ridge, he and neighbors found multiple gopher tortoise burrows on the site. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has since visited the property and is preparing their report.

Lambert said that he realizes the Park and Ride lot is underutilized, but questions the necessity for another strip mall in the area.

“Last week I drove on San Jose Boulevard from Julington Creek Road up to Sunbeam Road and found 28 strip malls with vacancy signs. What’s the justification for adding more stores?” he asked.

Photo by Martie Thompson

Robert Lambert points out how close the back of retail establishments will be to homes in Sawyer Ridge.

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