St. Johns residents voice concerns over county’s rapid growth

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — The population in St. Johns County is booming.

On Tuesday leaders invited the community to talk about how to manage their rapidly growing county during a workshop at the county administration building.

St. Johns County is now the second-fastest-growing county in Florida with many more residential and commercial projects planned.

One by one St. Johns County residents came up to the podium inside the county’s administration building to address the St. Johns County Board of Commissions.

Most who spoke up were concerned about “overdevelopment” and its impacts.

Some expressed concerns over environmental issues, traffic, and cost of living increases.

County officials talked about the future of big road projects currently under construction like the First Coast Expressway which when completed will span Duval, Clay, and St. Johns’ counties.

In the next 10 years, St. Johns plans to add 20 more schools to help with overcrowding issues.

At the same time, the housing market is booming with new developments sprouting up across the map.

The public comment portion went on for hours. It was so packed in the auditorium that the county had to open this overflow area so people could come and listen and watch the meeting.

Mark Gendzier and his wife stood outside the county administration building this morning holding these signs stop clear-cutting our trees – hoping county commissioners could better manage development responsibly.

“We just believe that there’s a way to have development and to preserve the natural beauty around us and also to preserve the quality of life of all – who are you know this growth doesn’t come without a price,” Gendzier said.

Others stood in the back of the auditorium listening. Greg Matovina said he is for new development in his growing county.

“The development is what has created the opportunities here for the better schools and opportunities for better parks and transportation permits, developers in this county building these huge developments contribute massive amounts of improvements to the country,” Matovina said.