Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Proposed Law Would Tie City Approval of Developments to Improved Roads

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Proposed Law Would Tie City Approval of Developments to Improved Roads

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

Developers who build in traffic-congested parts of Jacksonville face the prospect of either paying more to City Hall for road-widening projects or waiting longer for city approval of their developments.

An ordinance filed by the council's Growth Management Committee would eliminate a provision that lets the Planning and Development Department show additional traffic capacity is currently available for development if a road-widening is scheduled to start within three years.

The ordinance says planners could not show there is capacity for traffic until the Public Works Department has awarded a contract for road construction, guaranteeing the work will be done.

Whenever there is no capacity for traffic, developers must wait or they can agree to help pay for roadwork in the city's fair share program. The amount of fair share payment can range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the development and severity of traffic congestion.

The Northeast Florida Builders Association isn't taking a stance for or against the ordinance.

"I don't want to say we're going to bless it, but I don't think we're going to go out and oppose it," said Greg Matovina, immediate past president of the association.

He said when developers must make fair share payments, the cost gets passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for new homes. He said the fair share payments also affect how much developers can afford to pay for land.

The change would take effect Oct. 1 and affect 15 roads, including Kernan Boulevard, St. Augustine Road and Collins Road. For instance, Kernan Boulevard is a two-lane road, but because the Better Jacksonville Plan contained funding to widen it to four lanes, the city's planning department currently counts it as a four-lane road for development purposes.

The ordinance would strip away capacity from Kernan and return it to being a two-lane road. The City Council is considering a change in the Better Jacksonville Plan that would fund widening of Kernan to six lanes. However, the capacity for a six-lane road would not show up on the planning department's records until the city awards a construction contract for widening Kernan. …

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