Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Maguire Proposes Cutting Density; It's Not a "Last-Ditch Effort," the Commissioner Says, about His Idea to Limit Development

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Maguire Proposes Cutting Density; It's Not a "Last-Ditch Effort," the Commissioner Says, about His Idea to Limit Development

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

Even though he has approved nearly all of St. Johns County's development proposals through the past year, Commissioner Bruce Maguire announced a plan last week, 11 days before Tuesday's primary election, to reduce residential development by half.

Growth management and approval of residential developments have become major issues in the County Commission race this year.

Though Maguire, who's running for re-election in the Ponte Vedra Beach area's District 4, just announced the plan, he said he's been working on the proposal to change density limits on residential developments for about nine months.

He said he proposed the issue then so it would come before his fellow commissioners Tuesday as well, at their regular meeting.

"This will look like a last-minute, last-ditch effort, but I've been working on this nine months," Maguire said Friday.

Maguire's opponent, Tom Manuel, has criticized the incumbent's voting record on the commission in favor of developers. Over the past year, Maguire has approved about 94 percent of the developments that have come before the board.

In turn, Maguire has criticized Manuel's 48 percent denial rate on those same developments during his four years on the St. Johns County Planning and Zoning Agency. Maguire said Manuel's denials have not been legal under state law.

But at a District 4 candidate debate Monday, Manuel said Maguire's latest proposal is in conflict with personal property rights.

"If I have a density right of six [units] per acre, now you're gonna cut it in half, you've taken away my property rights," Manuel said. "The balancing of individual property rights with the needs of the greater community is one of the greatest challenges. ... Zoning is what protects everybody's property rights."

If approved, the policy reduction would restrict residential developments to half the density they are currently allowed. …

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