Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer
A mix of commercial and residential development, including retail stores or offices on the ground floor and town homes or condominiums on the upper floors, would be permitted on U.S. 17 at Black Creek if a proposed amendment to Clay County's comprehensive plan is approved.
The Clay County Planning Commission recommended approval of the plan following a public hearing Tuesday night and sent the measure on to the County Commission for final action on May 25.
The proposed development site encompasses 25 acres extending southward from Black Creek along the west side of U.S. 17, directly in front of the entrance to Camp Chowenwaw, a weekend and summer retreat for Girl Scouts at the end of Ball Road.
Ten acres of the parcel are currently in a rural residential land-use category, while the other 15 acres carries a commercial designation. Developers want to combine the two sites into one parcel under a new mixed-use label.
According to county planning authorities, the proposal would permit up to 375 dwelling units, based on a maximum density rate of 15 per acre, and 272,250 square feet of non-residential space.
Holly Schriefer, the county's chief planner, said the proposed change would result in a more desirable type of development than would be the case under current zoning and land-use restrictions.
"There is a huge potential for intense strip [commercial] development on this property," Schriefer said.
A planning department report endorsing the proposed amendment said the exclusive commercial zoning from Black Creek into the city of Green Cove Springs "sets the stage for an unattractive commercial strip such as segments of Blanding Boulevard and similar corridors."
The report further stated: "This amendment provides the opportunity to diminish the preponderance of commercial use within the north Green Cove Springs U.S. 17 corridor. The mixed-use designation will reduce the amount of commercial development allowed and increase the density for residential development. …