ORANGE PARK – The push to build Orange Park Plaza on Kingsley Avenue took another step forward last Thursday, at the Planning and Zoning Meeting at the Town Hall of Orange Park council chamber.
The two main applications for the Orange Park Plaza, application for small-scale land use amendment, and PUD rezoning applications were both recommended for denial by the council.
Many people spoke, both in favor, but more so against the project. There were also numerous write-ins and phone calls with Orange Park residents. The opposition was based on different points, such as perceived increases in traffic, noise and a spillover of parking into nearby residential neighborhoods
“The proposed land use is the highest and best use for this property. It will provide much-needed housing for young professionals, a visually attractive site, much-needed tax revenue, and will no doubt raise the value of surrounding properties. The project should be ALLOWED to proceed,” wrote Michael A. Vallencourt, in support of the project.
“I love Orange Park and support responsible local development. Restaurants, boutiques, grocery store options, wine bars, coffee shops, and affordable housing for entry-level professionals all sounds very good to me,” Al Tidall also wrote in support. “This development will bring new revenue and increase land values. This project will generate over 1 million dollars in new tax revenue. Right now, the property generates zero dollars. I understand that we will have a Community Center for the entire Town to use. Sounds good to me.”
Opposition stood in stark contrast to the support.
“Our home is being threatened with this plaza. We don’t like or want the plaza as designed. It’s just too big, it doesn’t fit here, it doesn’t make sense,” wrote Antoine Kouchakjy in his email.
Other residents expressed concern over a possible decrease in the property values of residences immediately neighboring the project site.
“When I think about what this plaza will look like, my first thoughts go to the residents who reside directly behind this and what they stand to lose. Did you stop to think what this may do to their property values? Do you think they are going to increase in value? What about their privacy?” said Brenda Gillander. “No six-foot privacy fence is going to keep the noise, lights, and other activities from disturbing their homes. If you lived in those homes, would you be happy about this development coming to your neighborhood? Their right to peaceful and comfortable living in their own homes will be taken away from them.”
The issue will go before the full Town Council on June 2 for reevaluation.