No density changes in O.P. until long-range planning is completed

By Wesley LeBlanc Staff Writer
Posted 8/14/19

ORANGE PARK – The town council voted Tuesday to forgo any density changes until its long-range planning process is complete.

The town’s Planning and Zoning Board has been mulling over density …

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No density changes in O.P. until long-range planning is completed

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The town council voted Tuesday to forgo any density changes until its long-range planning process is complete.

The town’s Planning and Zoning Board has been mulling over density changes in Orange Park for a few months. After a 3-2 vote, with council member Roland Mastandrea and Vice Mayor Alan Watt dissenting, discussions of dwelling density and mixed use districting will likely stay dormant for the next few months.

“We are moving forward with a visioning that will be very comprehensive and to jump ahead and look at this and say, ‘we want this and this,’ while we haven’t included our entire community yet, I think we will be doing them a disservice,” Mayor Connie Thomas said.

Density as it relates to Orange Park is the number of residential dwelling units within a single acre of land. A lower density represents up to four units an acre while a high density represents up to 15. Planning and Zoning and the Town Council looked at not only that kind of density but commercial density as well where the number of dwelling units within each category – low, medium and high – rise with the inclusion of a non-residential development in the same zoned area.

Different zones of the town have different densities so one section might see four residential units packed into one acre of land while a different part of town might have eight.

The council is working on its long-range future plan. The council is relying on an $80,000 visioning report it hired an outside firm to create. The report will give an idea of what’s ahead, particularly how it will affect the residents.

This visioning report is what made council members Ron Raymond, Randy Anderson and Thomas vote to forgo any density changes.

“We’re making decisions while it’s raining when all we have to do is turn the windshield wipers on and look,” Raymond said.

Mastandrea and Watt view things differently. Instead, they hoped to change density to allow more dwelling units an acre so potential developments would have the density layout in advance.

“Right now, if we get a plan (that calls for a density higher than 15 units an acre,) we can’t do it,” Mastandrea said. “If we change it, then we have the ability to say yes or no to (developments) in our toolbox.”

While the council voted not to adjust the density of mixed use, density bonuses and proposed zoning districts in Orange Park, the council can revive the issue at any time.

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