Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fat Checks Don't Dissolve Responsibility

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fat Checks Don't Dissolve Responsibility

Article excerpt

Byline: kevin clark

Not in my back yard.

It's a phrase we've all uttered at one time or another, from a child's home run ball flying over our fence to the neighbor's dog paying a special visit to the mailbox.

The phrase is especially popular when a municipal decision threatens to move some aspect of growth ever closer to our property lines. Often by the time we mobilize, however, it's too late. Then it's time to play the blame game.

Not many folks outside the Julington Creek Plantation Community Development District Board realized builder D.R. Horton had control of a piece of land known as "Parcel 52," about 3 acres of trees adjacent to Durbin Creek Boulevard on one side and the JCP neighborhood of Whispering Pines on another. Word got around, however, when the development board notified St. Johns County of its intent to build a large recreation facility, estimated to cost $7 million, on 25 acres near D.R. Horton's land.

On the same application for the rec center and adjacent park space, D.R. Horton representatives applied to rezone Parcel 52 from a recreational tract to one suitable for multi-family homes. In fact, the developer agreed to pay all the application fees for both projects and signed a contract to donate another $500,000 to the CDD board to help build the recreation center.

To homeowners in the section of Whispering Pines closest to Parcel 52, D.R. Horton's plan for townhomes means an end to the natural preserve in their back yards and the beginning of a traffic nightmare on local roads.

It also appeared the board -- made up of Julington Creek Plantation residents -- was endorsing Horton's plan. There was talk that the board had swapped land with D.R. Horton, a point that ended up in a Page 2 headline of the Sun. An explanation of the facts revealed that headline was wrong -- there was no land swap.

In any case, a grassroots effort against the development was born. On Tuesday night, dozens of neighborhood residents filled a tiny meeting room at Bartram Trail branch library to ask the CDD board how, if it truly represents the interests of neighborhood residents, could it possibly assist in a plan that was sure to wreck property values. …

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