Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Subdividing Property Now a Hot Issue at the Beaches

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Subdividing Property Now a Hot Issue at the Beaches

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

With little land left to build on in the Beaches area, subdividing existing properties into smaller lots is becoming a popular means of property development.

But these types of subdivisions have erupted into major controversies in the past two months, from a temporary moratorium against property splitting in Atlantic Beach to warnings of illegal subdivisions in Neptune Beach to outrage by neighbors opposed to subdividing a 2-acre oceanfront lot in Ponte Vedra Beach.

"It's a pretty safe bet that most of the developable [Beaches] land is developed," said Nancy Garcia, director of government affairs for the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. "That means the next stage is redeveloping those properties that are outdated. It [subdividing] is certainly an issue."

Neptune Beach City Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Harriet Pruette said the prospect of subdividing properties into smaller lots for additional building will have to be reckoned with in every Beaches community.

CONTROVERSY AHEAD

"I think for Neptune Beach, certainly down the road it could be a problem," Pruette said Tuesday. "There are some lots in our area on Penman Road and some other areas that could really raise the density if people start subdividing and subdividing."

Pruette said the moratorium against subdividing property in Atlantic Beach could serve as a precedent for how cities handle the issue in the future.

The Atlantic Beach City Commission enacted the moratorium in December after rejecting a request by Lindley Tolbert to subdivide her Selva Marina development lot into three smaller parcels. Tolbert sued the city in Circuit Court this month, seeking a declaratory judgment against the city's rejection of her request. The city is drafting a response to the suit.

The Tolbert case highlighted growing dissent about increased development and many residents' concerns about preserving community character.

The rejection of Tolbert's request came two months after Jamie Fletcher was elected to the commission and Don Wolfson was elected mayor, both of whom ran on platforms of controlling growth. …

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