Middleburg property gets rezoning approval despite drainage concerns

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 6/26/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – County Commissioners voted 3-1 on a first public hearing to rezone a Middleburg property from agricultural to planned urban development, following a lengthy discussion about …

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Middleburg property gets rezoning approval despite drainage concerns

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – County Commissioners voted 3-1 on a first public hearing to rezone a Middleburg property from agricultural to planned urban development, following a lengthy discussion about drainage.

The rezoning application was denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission 4-4, citing drainage and lot size concerns at a previous meeting. The plans call for 56 homes on the 14.59 acres at 2638 County Road 220, adjacent Doctors Inlet Elementary.

The applicant, Chris Ward, said the homes would cost about $275,00 on average. Ward said the 45-foot lot size was acceptable for density referred to in the county’s comprehensive plan. He said the development would bring $177,000 in tax revenue to the county and about $715,000 in impact fees.

Ward’s engineer, William Schaefer, said there would be no adverse effects to the residents to the north of the property. Some water would also be captured by an enlarged pond by the school for more storage.

County Engineering and Public Works Director Dale Smith said the county was awarded a grant from FEMA for the Greenwood subdivision’s drainage. The grant is about $1.8 million, though the county must provide a 25% match. Construction would take about 18 months to complete after the year-long design process.

Residents to the north of the proposed development were concerned about drainage.

A nine-year resident of the community, Christine Jarman said the water flows so fast kids surf on it. She said she worried about the loss of trees that absorb water for the already oft-flooded area.

“We’re not talking about occasional flooding,” Jarman said. “Whenever there is a significant rainfall, we have homes that flood on Susan Drive and Pinewood Boulevard.”

Resident Arvid Nelson said he wanted the county and developers to discuss facts rather than propositions. Nelson and Jarman asked commissioners to wait for the FEMA money first.

“I want to talk facts. Greenwood is flooding every time a heavy rain comes,” he said. “How many people are we going to displace from their homes, on proposals and ‘I think?’ When the FEMA money comes and they can start improving the inadequate draining that currently exists, then and only then, do I think we should propose an additional subdivision to come into this area.”

Smith said the development would halt some flooding to the north because of the developer’s retention pond. Ward referenced 5.4 acres to the west of his property that floods his land, and the homes would slow it. Ward said he would work with Smith on implementing the FEMA improvements.

Commissioner Gayward Hendry said he was assured by developers the runoff would result in little change or even less discharge in the area.

“If we do nothing the problem is still going to be there,” Hendry said.

Commissioner Wayne Bolla was absent. Commissioner Mike Cella, who was the lone dissenting vote, said he had heard similar promises about flooding before. He said he didn’t favor 45-foot lots and the development altered the character of the neighborhood.

“Twenty years after you gentlemen (referring to developers) are gone, there are going to be people living in those houses,” Cella said. “In my good conscience, I can't vote for a development that’s got 45-foot lots because I don’t think it fits with the character of that neighborhood.”

Commissioner Gavin Rollins said necessary steps would be taken if promises were not kept, such as withdrawing a certificate of occupancy. Acknowledging the area’s drainage issues, Rollins said he approved of the plan after hearing from the experts that the development could help mitigate the problem.

“It makes sense to move forward with the project,” Rollins said.

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