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Jacksonville, FL (January 17th, 2017) Residents voiced traffic concerns about more development when representatives of Cantrell & Morgan addressed a community meeting arranged by District 11 City Council Member Danny Becton at the Southeast Regional Library. Developers sought citizen input to a filed rezoning application of 18.72 acres of property on the corner of Gate Parkway and Deerwood Park Boulevard across from the Sheraton Hotel and SE Regional Library. The rezoning is requesting a change from Industrial Business Park (IBP) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) land use.

Under current IBP zoning, uses-by-right currently allow for development that includes: Medical Office, Hospitals and Professional Office, Banks, Warehousing, and Vocational trade school facilities among other things. The new zoning change is for a Mixed-Use project that is projected to create less traffic trips and have a positive impact in the area to reduce the high demand peaks in the morning and evening rush hours that the previous commercial zoning would create.

As proposed this Mixed-Use facility will blend 25,000 sq. ft. of Office/Medical, 50,000 sq. ft. of Commercial shops and restaurants along with up to a 300 unit Multi-Family complex. Also, proposed on this development might include a maximum 110 unit Hotel/Motel and a gas station on the corner. In planning for this development’s impact to the area, the project is looking to invest approximately $1.4 million in transportation improvements for road, traffic signals and other changes to alleviate congestion in the area. Improvements include, 1) the construction of a third stacking lane extend 100 feet short of the Burnt Mill Rd intersection going north on Gate Parkway turning left onto Deerwood Park Blvd., 2) the creation of a left turn entry from Gate Parkway into the development, 3) the traffic direction change of the current left turn lane, to go straight only allowing more traffic to cross thru the intersection going north and clearing out the existing traffic leaving the area, 4) other improvements to include the elimination of a right-turn-on-red onto Gate Parkway north from Deerwood Park Blvd going west next to the gas station and finally 5) the addition of a new traffic signal on the back-end of the new development onto Deerwood Park Blvd.

As the developer wrapped up their transportation improvements, Councilmember Becton introduced 4 new projects that have been APPROVED and FUNDED thru his efforts over the past 18 months. All of them are targeted to help traffic flow in the area from Southside Blvd, Deerwood Park Blvd and Gate Parkway. These projects announced included: 1) The Bridge widening on Deerwood Park Blvd. from 2 to 4 lanes, 2) the FDOT’s redesign and improvement of the interchange of Gate Parkway and JTB, 3) a traffic lane conversion from straight-thru to a right-turn only at Deerwood Park Blvd and Southside Blvd., allowing more traffic to turn north onto Southside Blvd towards JTB., 4) a traffic light to be added at Blue Fin Drive and Gate Parkway in front of the Deutsche Bank building.

“We are trying to mitigate the traffic and potential problems with the planned growth in the area,” CM Becton said. “Unfortunately as I hear your concerns and comments this evening whereby the options of: option 1 [leave zoning as is], option 2 [allowing the zoning change to proceed], unfortunately, the option 3 that no one has directly stated but I feel is being expressed [to allow no development to occur] is unrealistic and not possible.” “There are current property rights to develop on this property and it is not in the City’s power to take those away.”

As the developer wrapped up their presentation, it was noted that the project was allowing for an extended buffer on the street’s edge of the property of 30 feet at the request of CM Becton’s efforts to provide for a more landscaped feel with already existing properties in the area. Current code only requires a 10 ft. buffer be provided. It should be noted, that this development is receiving no city money or tax incentives.

In conclusion of this community meeting, the next steps agreed upon was to set up a private meeting between a group of local neighborhoods and the developer and that CM Becton would setup a second meeting towards the end of February to provide a final workshop for all prior to being heard by the Planning Commission and then Land Use and Zoning Committee of the City Council.

It should be noted that CM Becton is currently the chair of the Land Use and Zoning committee where the Bill will be heard.