Local

Clay County neighbors frustrated over neighborhood proposal

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — When you first find the Willow Springs neighborhood on County Road 315 near Green Cove Springs, it looks like any other neighborhood. But keep driving straight, and you’ll find where the pavement meets dirt, or, better put, where Willow Springs Drive meets Shedd Road.

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It turns into a long stretch of woods where one new neighborhood could soon meet another.

“We don’t want to be boxed into another development,” says Ryan Marcys, who lives on Shedd Road.

Shedd Road is one of a dwindling number of Clay County’s dirt roads. County property records show about 19 homes on the road, but a proposed neighborhood would bring more than three times that number of homes if approved.

The longtime locals, like Stacee Reape, who’s lived on Shedd Road for about 40 years, aren’t fans.

“We grew up here, this is where we want to live,” Reape says, “we don’t want to move away from all of it.”

Right now, the neighborhood, headed by St. Augustine-based developer Matthews DCCM, is being proposed on a 20-acre stretch of Shedd Road. That piece of property, per the county development code, is zoned for four homes, at maximum. If approved, it would be rezoned to fit 62 homes.

For local realtors like Jennifer Gregory, a new neighborhood on an old dirt road isn’t realistic.

“We do not have the infrastructure to handle all the new housing developments,” Gregory says.

Shedd Road, per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sits on an area of natural wetlands. Neighbors say bringing new homes to a dirt road in a wet, flood-prone area, would only cause them more headaches.

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“The road gets so bad after it rains,” Reape says, “it’s practically underwater. So it is affecting our lives.”

Gregory says, from a real estate perspective, offering up properties off a narrow dirt road in this area might create traffic problems, too.

“The roads cannot support the growth and there are just subdivisions everywhere,” Gregory says.

Gregory adds it won’t stop people from moving into Clay County, though. The U.S. Census Bureau says at least 8,339 people have come to the county in the last three years. In the last 10 years, state housing data shows the average price of a home in Clay has shot up at least $44,906.

Gregory says the Shedd Road proposal is a sign of the times.

“People are trying to get in. They see [Clay County] growing, they see what’s coming, they see what’s happening and they want to get in,” Gregory says.

But not all the neighbors want to let go of the land they love.

“There’s nothing [the developer] could say or promise to make us change our minds,” Reape says.

We reached out to Matthews DCCM for more information on the proposed neighborhood and are still waiting to hear back. The developer held a community meeting with homeowners tonight, but the next time the proposal goes before the Clay County Planning Commission will be on January 2nd.

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