Public Regains Voice in Fair Share Development Plan

Article excerpt

Facing an outcry from Jacksonville neighborhood activists,

Mayor John Delaney has decided that applications for "fair

share" agreements in traffic-jammed parts of the city will

continue to undergo public review.

In July, Delaney proposed a procedure that would eliminate

public hearings for fair share agreements, which allow

construction if the developer will help pay for road

improvements, such as turn lanes or wider streets, that ease

traffic congestion.

That drew sharp criticism from JaxPride President Lynda

Storkerson, who said yesterday her group would "come out with

all guns blazing" if there is no opportunity for "neighborhood

participation" in scrutinizing fair share applications.

Delaney will revise his proposal to include a forum for public

comment on the applications, city General Counsel Rick Mullaney

said yesterday.

"This is a work in progress," said Mullaney, who has been

working with Delaney on the bill filed with the City Council.

Delaney has been grappling with how to create a faster

administrative procedure for fair share applications.

Those go now to the City Council for approval. Delaney's

proposal calls for an administrative procedure with five

officials: the mayor, council president, planning director,

Public Works director and finance director.

Some council members have rapped that change, saying the

council needs more involvement than just the council president.

The question of how to administer fair share agreements is

part of the city's growth management strategy. State law does

not allow new development unless the city's infrastructure can

handle it. In Jacksonville, overloaded roadways have

increasinglycaused development projects to fail that test of

"concurrency."

But state law also allows projects that fail concurrency to

proceed if the developer agrees to pay a "fair share" of what

the city must spend to make the needed improvements.

The city has had a policy allowing fair share agreements since

1996 but has so far only approved four. There were few

applications until this year, but 36 are currently on file.

Delaney had put a hold on those while he worked on setting up an

administrative system. He decided this week to allow those to

move forward while he takes more time to work on his proposal.

City Councilman Dick Kravitz said that in addition to the

council president, any administrative review should at least

include the district council member representing the area of the

proposed development, as well as the appropriate at-large

council member. …