Send Ben: Neighbors outraged over dead end they say causes safety problems

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You could call it a road to nowhere in a local neighborhood, and it’s making neighbors like Michael Belcher feel like they have reached a dead end.

"I have to drive 2.2 miles to go 100 yards. That’s crazy,” Belcher said.

Action News Jax Ben Becker spoke with Belcher, along with nearly two dozen of his neighbors, at the Mill Creek North development in Arlington about Lone Star Road not connecting to a roundabout at Tredinick Parkway.

The disconnect is disconcerting for mother Christine Bell, who worries about emergency access via the Southside Connector Service Road.

“I’m afraid something bad is going to happen,” Bell said.

The neighborhood is closest to Fire Station 30.

Becker checked Google Maps one day at noon, which said it takes six minutes to drive the 2.3 mile distance.

But without that road block, the trip drops down to 1.7 miles.

“It’s an obstruction to all of us,” neighbor Jeannie Benson.

But not according to the city, which told Becker in an email it does not interpret the curb, sand and signs that are blocking Lone Star Road from the roundabout as an “obstruction.”

But the road was open in April 2019, so, why did road rules change and who is responsible?

In an internal city email from two months ago, Jacksonville’s chief of traffic engineering said “a housing developer apparently built roadways that were never approved by the appropriate offices at the city. Also, that roadway is private property and therefore not within our jurisdiction.”

Barry Ansbacher, who is a board certified real estate and construction attorney in Jacksonville, disagrees.

He walked Becker through engineering maps and told him that, according to county records, off-site improvements by Mill Creek North developer Lennar were accepted by the city in November 2019, four months before that previous email.

"For the city to do that sign off, which means they accepted the work within community and off site, which in this case is Lone Star,” Ansbacher said.

Becker emailed the city about what he discovered, which responded, “The developer made the portion impassable that wasn’t to city standards,” and maintains it “has not accepted Lone Star to the traffic circle” but adds "there is now a meeting being set to help remedy this. We are aware of this problem. We want the connection as much as anyone else and we working with the developer and other parties on a remedy.”

So if Lennar and the city didn’t block the road, who did? City officials told Becker it is Richbuilt Properties.

Becker called the project manager, who is developing the Solera at Kendall West Apartments across the street from Mill Creek North, but never heard back.

The city said Richbuilt was told to close the road during an in-person meeting but that no documents exist of that decision.

As for Bell, she wants to avoid trouble down the road.

“We want everyone in our neighborhood to have safe access and quick access if there was an emergency,” Bell said.

Becker will keep working to get answers for those neighbors who feel like they’re being obstructed.

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