Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SilverLeaf Plantation Coming to St. Johns County; with 10,700 Homes, Community Will Be Second Largest in the County after Nocatee

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SilverLeaf Plantation Coming to St. Johns County; with 10,700 Homes, Community Will Be Second Largest in the County after Nocatee

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER GUINTA

A 7,500-acre residential development -- which is also a key piece of St. Johns County's evolving transportation plan -- was approved Monday by the County Commission.

SilverLeaf Plantation, located northwest of World Golf Village, will add 10,700 homes by the end of its 15-year build out, the county's second largest planned community behind Nocatee's 14,200 homes.

SilverLeaf will also contribute $147 million toward county road projects -- most critically, a 7.2-mile stretch of north-south County Road 2209 that would have cost taxpayers $65 million alone.

Commissioner Bruce Maguire said SilverLeaf is the final major piece of the county's transportation plan.

"The new connectors and arterials will provide exponential benefits that reduce traffic congestion and increase public safety," he said.

The Hutson Companies will be developing the project.

Maguire said the board has often heard complaints that it had no transportation plan.

"(But) This board has been very strong in pulling out (developer) money for roads," he said.

"About $650 million county wide has been paid by developers toward road projects," he said.

If schools, parks and other public amenities are added, that figure could be $1 billion, Maguire said.

At one point during the public hearing, the commission asked everyone in the audience who supported the project to stand up. About 100 people did, though only 10 spoke on behalf of SilverLeaf, including neighbors Richard Pacetti and Allan Roberts.

Anti-growth activist Ellen Whitmer spoke against it.

"We certainly don't have a need for 10,700 new homes," Whitmer said. "This is a way for sprawl from Jacksonville to further encroach south into St. Johns County."

Douglas C. Miller, chief executive officer of England, Thims & Miller, a Jacksonville engineering, planning and consulting firm, said the developers would donate the sites for four elementary, two middle and one high school. …

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