Sunday, September 13, 2015

999 Home Development Threatens Our Environment and Way of Life: KINGS GRANT HEARING Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why 999 homes?
So dodgy developer (represented by ROGERS TOWERS lawyer Ellen Avery-Smith can avoid "Development of Regional Impact" (DRI) laws.
Too cute!

Guest Column: King's Grant all wrong for south St. Johns County
Posted: September 13, 2015 - 12:27am
By Ann Taylor
St. Augustine
I am writing in opposition to the King’s Grant development that is proposed for a rural area in south St. Johns County and will be voted on by the County Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

A development of 999 homes with height restrictions of 40 feet and lot sizes of 40 feet is proposed for an area west of the intersection of S.R. 206 and I-95. This is an urban design that is entirely inappropriate for this rural area. This is only the first phase in a development, as the developers own over 3,000 acres.

In addition to the 999 homes, the developers are proposing 130,000 square feet of commercial space, a 200-room hotel, 80,000 square feet of medical and professional offices, a 260-bed assisted living facility and a 120-bed hospital!

This is the wrong place, the wrong time and the wrong development. Planning and Zoning has twice voted to deny this petition.

There is a lack of infrastructure to support this development, in terms of roads, schools, sewerage facilities and fire protection.

The traffic at the intersection of I-95 and S.R. 206 is already dangerous. The Pilot Station and Travel Center at that intersection is one of the busiest in the nation. You have huge semitrailers going though an intersection barely able to accommodate them.

The addition of 1,000 (excuse me, 999) homes and these commercial and medical facilities will only exacerbate this.

With Pedro Menendez High School just down the road, this development will put more inexperienced drivers at this dangerous intersection twice a day. Pedro Menendez is already at capacity. This development will further stress its resources.

The area for which this development is proposed is surrounded by agricultural land. It is not fitting for the proposed location of urban sprawl and leap-frog development — which is not allowed by our county’s comprehensive plan.

Fire protection is a particular concern in that the closest fire station is in Crescent Beach: A drawbridge and a railroad track away. This would stress the ability of this station to meet the needs of the community it now serves. The fire chief estimates that a new station would cost $2.5 million to build and $2 million a year to equip and operate. Clearly the impact fees of approximately $700,000 are inadequate. The demands on water, sewerage and schools are in addition to this.

Unfettered development creates profits for the developers and increased tax burdens for the existing taxpayers.

Since our county commissioners appear to oppose increasing taxes, developments such as this will have a negative impact on the quality of our services.

This development is located on a designated aquifer recharge area in St. Johns County.

In addition, this site is elevated and falls four feet per mile over nine miles and directly into Pellicer Creek — an Outstanding Florida Water.

Agricultural land doesn’t generate a lot of taxes but it doesn’t generate costs either, as trees, potatoes and cabbages do not drive cars or go to school.

Finally, south St. Johns County is different from the rest of the county. It is rural. The county and its residents need to plan what they envision, before turning the south part of the county into something like the north.

Come to the county commission meeting a 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at the County Administration Building, and bring your friends and neighbors to oppose this costly and unwise development. This item is first on the agenda.

Opinion Editor’s note: The latest agenda has the King’s Grant presentation listed as the seventh agenda item.

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