Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Development near Intracoastal Bears Scrutiny

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Development near Intracoastal Bears Scrutiny

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage

After the City Council spent a bundle of taxpayer dollars to send a gaggle of its members on the Chamber trip to New Orleans to hear what went wrong when Hurricane Katrina hit, we'll find out this week if anything was learned.

One of the clear lessons from Katrina was the difficulty of evacuating residents when a killer storm approaches.

That should be on the minds of council members Tuesday night when they consider a land use change for 77 acres located on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Those of you who travel east on Atlantic Boulevard to the Beaches will be familiar with the property.

Part of it once was a shipyard and later a fabrication plant. What's left now - old equipment, raggedy buildings and rusty barges - is a blight.

The owners, Moody Land Co. Inc., want to redevelop the property into a mixed-use development with about 1,000 residential units.

That will require a change to the city's Comprehensive Plan, which must be approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee.

First let's dispose of a couple of arguments from the developer, which, quite frankly, come up almost every time on these issues and have grown tiresome.

One is that the current designation of the property would allow something much worse than residential use, such as heavy, noisy industry that could operate 24 hours a day.

That's true, although unlikely, for the property where industrial use is now allowed. But it's not true for the big chunk of the property zoned agricultural that allows only one housing unit per 2.5 acres. So don't try to call the whole thing a harmless down zoning.

The second argument is that this is only a "transmittal" asking the state to sign off on the change and it will have to come back to the City Council for further action.

I don't know how many times I've heard that. Then when a change returns to the council, the argument is made that the council has already approved it once, so it should again. …

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