ATLANTIC BEACH -- A proposed 220-unit housing development near
Atlantic Beach could destroy undiscovered archaeological sites,
according to government officials and an archaeologist.
The development is planned near the oldest known permanent
settlement in North America, located in an Atlantic Beach
resident's back yard.
Atlantic Beach Mayor Suzanne Shaughnessy is trying to point out
the importance of the site to the developer, Centex Homes, as
well as Jacksonville officials.
A public hearing on the development has been scheduled for Oct.
6 before the zoning committee of Jackhsonville City Council.
Centex officials were unavailable for comment yesterday, said
Larry Marscheck, public relations manager at Willman & Co.,
Centex's public relations firm.
However, archaeologist Mike Russo, who discovered the site in
1989, said an archaeologist retained by Centex Homes contacted
him in the past week about the proposed development.
"The point is not to stop Centex in its tracks," Shaughnessy
said. "The point is to not roll right over anything of value
that might be there."
And Russo said there probably are valuable discoveries to be
made. His most recent research has been funded by a grant from
the National Geographic Society.
"The potential for sites being there is high," Russo said.
In a Sept. 1 letter to Shaughnessy and the St. Johns River
Water Management District, Russo recommended that "any project
planned in the area include judicious consideration for the
unknown cultural resources it may impact."
Jacksonville City Councilman Max Leggett said he has some
concerns about the development, but the potential presence of
archaeological artifacts isn't one of them.
"I don't think that's a viable issue right now," Leggett said.
"It's too old."
The prehistoric site, about 180 feet by 150 feet, is located on
Pamela Spencer's 1.3-acre lot. The site was larger until a
housing development destroyed part of it, according to …