Rural Residents Oppose Change in Land Use Proposal Would Allow More Homes along County Road 218

Article excerpt

Patrick and Brenda Heck left the crowded suburbs of West

Jacksonville in 1991 for the peace and quiet of rural Clay

County, where grazing horses are never far away.

Brenda Heck said there's no comparison between Jacksonville and

the more blissful surroundings they've called home for seven


"It's not so densely populated here," said Heck, whose six

grandchildren love to visit the 2-acre spread off County Road

218 between Middleburg and Lake Asbury.

And that's the way they and many other homeowners want to keep


Patrick Heck joined about 75 residents at a public hearing at

Lake Asbury Elementary School March 26 to voice their opposition

to a proposed land-use change that could dramatically increase

the density on 2,300 acres along portions of County Road 218.

"It was obvious that all 70 of the people in the room [who

signed a sign-in sheet] were of one mind," Heck said.

The areas proposed for a land use change are in two tracts,

including 935 acres of timberland on the 28,000-acre Shadowland

Farms, owned by the Reinhold Corp. The density in that

agricultural area is restricted to one residence per 20 acres.

The other area, much of which already is developed, extends

from Blanding Boulevard to just east of Seminole Village.

Density in that area is limited to one residence per 5 acres.

The proposed change to the rural fringe designation would

permit up to three residences per acre on the undeveloped

portions of the 2,300 acres.

If the measure is approved, Heck said, development might create

the same kind of conditions that motivated him and his wife to

leave their Jacksonville neighborhood years ago.

"The reasons we moved from the Westside of Jacksonville was,

basically, crime [too much of it], schools [too crowded] and

quality of life [too stressful]," Heck said.

He said it's not at all like that in Seminole Village, a

subdivision of mostly 2- and 3-acre home sites where he built his

home on Warrior Drive. Rural Seminole Village was

platted before the comprehensive plan was adopted in 1991.

The Clay County Planning Commission is scheduled to review the

proposed land-use amendment May 5. A recommendation could be

sent to the County Commission as early as May 26.

"We'll take the input from the citizens to the Planning

Commission and we'll tell them what the input was," said Lynn

Weber, a member of the county planning staff. …