CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County has experienced immense growth over the past decade, and with that comes lots of growing pains.
Clay County has added 30,000 people in the last 10 years, which is one of the fastest in the state. This has challenged officials to address new issues for the county, such as affordable housing.
This week, Action News Jax’s John Bachman sat down with Clay County Commissioner Betsy Condon about how the county is addressing these issues.
Developers are working to keep up with Clay County’s rapid growth. The population is expected to hit 250,000 in the next 2 years and could exceed 300,000 by 2040, according to the University of Florida. Commissioner Condon expresses cautious optimism regarding the county’s growth.
“We’re at about 220,000 people in Clay County. We’re no longer the small bedroom community of Jacksonville. We really are our own mid-sized county,” she explained.
Condon said that the challenge of dealing with rapid growth is balancing the needs of newcomers and long-time residents. She explained that it’s difficult to make sure there is infrastructure in place for those moving into the county while keeping a small-town feel for those who have lived there for a long time.
The growth is also adding to the problem of affordable housing, which Condon said the county is trying to address. She said it’s especially important now that the average house costs $350,000.
“I don’t think that’s our average, even two and column two-income households can afford that. Much less are single parents households or things like that,” Condon said.
Condon said that several developers want to target some of their housing for public service employees, like teachers, firefighters and police officers.
Condon said there is not a target number of affordable housing projects so far. She said they’re waiting to learn how new legislation will impact their land development code.
You can watch John Bachman’s full interview with Commissioner Condon and his discussion with Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook about overgrowing the jail and paying deputies more Sunday morning on “This Week in the 904.”
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