ONLY ON: Neighbors fighting back against proposed development in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Developers are one step closer to turning 113 acres of land on Jacksonville’s Northside into nearly 250 single-family homes.

The land is on a peninsula located at Broward Road and North Main Street.

Neighbors are doing everything they can to stop it.

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There are currently 75 families who live on Broward Point Preserve.

In all, 113 acres of it is undisturbed land and home to several endangered and protected wildlife.

But developers have plans to build 243 homes.

Tuesday night, they got their first green light from the Land Use and Zoning Committee in a 4 to 3 vote.

Councilman Rory Diamond, along with Kevin Carrico, Garrett Dennis and Randy White, voted in favor of moving forward with the development by passing the developer’s rezoning request.

Diamond said in part, “I am going to vote in favor of the rezoning today again if only because while I understand the neighborhood’s position. I get it 100%. I feel where you are at. On the other side is property rights that people purchased, and we are asking them to extinguish those property rights.”

Meanwhile, Councilmembers Reggie Gaffney, Al Ferraro and Michael Boylan voted against the rezoning request.

Gaffney said, “I just think this is unfair, and I am very disappointed in this decision.”

Neighbors were also disappointed by the vote after expressing environmental and safety concerns.

Michael Celenza, who lives on Broward Road, said, “We have a one way in and out across an active railroad, and we are surrounded by water on three sides. How is this a logical plan to put 243 additional homes to the 75 that exist?”

Developer Curtis Hart believes that shouldn’t impact the building of homes on the land.

“I’ll give you a perfect example: Queens Harbor has one way in and out, and there’s 1,200 houses there. ‘One way in one way out’ is ... not a reason to deny development of a piece of property,” Hart said.

According to Celenza, “That’s not a valid argument. Queens Harbor doesn’t have an active railroad that blocks people in.”

Hart went on to say, “I would think DOT would have something to say about our intersection with Main Street. We may have to do turn lanes. We may have to do a signal. I don’t know if that would give them some comfort if we had that, but we will go through the DOT permit process when it’s time.”

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The neighbors who currently live here want to buy the land and donate it to the Jacksonville Zoo for their manatee protection program. They are determined to stop this development.

“We will pursue any means necessary to stop it, and we have no limit to our resolve,” said Celenza.

Since the Land Use and Zoning Committee voted to move forward with the proposal, this proposal will go to the City Council, and it will vote on it next Tuesday.