Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State to Review Moody Shipyard Plan; A Salt Marsh May Imperil the Proposed Condos and Boat Basin

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State to Review Moody Shipyard Plan; A Salt Marsh May Imperil the Proposed Condos and Boat Basin

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

A proposed land-use change that would allow a condo and mixed-use complex at the Moody shipyard and boat basin on the west bank of the Intracoastal Waterway is on its way for a review in Tallahassee.

The Jacksonville City Council voted 14-1 Tuesday to send the proposal to the state Department of Community Affairs, following a planning department report that recommends its approval with several conditions. Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, the Beaches-area representative, voted against the transmittal.

Maxey Moody has applied for a comprehensive plan amendment to change the land's use from industrial waterfront and agricultural to commercial general. The proposal involves about 77 acres at 13911 Atlantic Blvd. on the north side of the street. It includes a 37-acre salt marsh, which is what jeopardized a similar project proposed there a few years ago. The site also lies in the coastal high-hazard area, which raises concerns about hurricane evacuation.

Kathleen Brown, who lives on Pablo Point Drive, recently asked the Waterways Commission to not support any changes that could harm the sensitive wetland. In a letter to the commission, one of many bodies that have, or will, consider the project, she said she and her husband were told when they bought their home 15 years ago that the salt marsh could not be disturbed. From their windows, they have seen wood storks, great blue herons, red foxes, otters, a bobcat and even a brown bear. Any change, other than conservation, would harm the plants and animals and threaten the neighborhood too.

"Because the salt marsh acts as a giant sponge in times of high tide and storms, it has protected our neighborhood from flooding," Brown's letter states. "Filling any part of the salt marsh could make us vulnerable to flooding."

Amending the comprehensive plan is a complicated and lengthy process that can take up to a year. The DCA will have 90 days to review the amendment and issue objections, recommendations and comments. Then the Jacksonville City Council will consider an ordinance on the amendment and a rezoning for the Planned Unit Development at the site.

The planning and development department's recommendation for the comprehensive plan amendment comes with conditions that require a transportation study showing that road capacity is maintained in the area, residential density be based on a new hurricane evacuation study using 2005 data, PUD zoning to limit intensive commercial and medium-density residential uses to areas occupied by the shipyard, the PUD zoning to protect saltwater marshes and other environmentally sensitive areas by providing conservation easements or amending the city's future land use map to conservation. …

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