Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Unlikely to Get Land to Widen Road; Given That, Commissioners Decide They'll Take the $5.5 Million from Developers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Unlikely to Get Land to Widen Road; Given That, Commissioners Decide They'll Take the $5.5 Million from Developers

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

A majority of St. Johns County commissioners decided this week it's not likely they'll ever get the land they've been seeking for years to widen part of County Road 210 to four lanes.

So they voted to take the $5.5 million set aside by developers for the project and save it for a future transportation project.

With its rising population, the county has been trying to come up with a way to widen the busy road from Mickler Road to the Intracoastal Waterway. But that would mean taking land from the state's Guana Reserve along one side of 210 or the Sawmill Lakes neighborhood along the other, both unpopular if not impossible prospects.

Commissioner Ben Rich said Tuesday getting the land isn't likely.

"It's not going into the Guana, it's not going into the developments on the other side of the street either," Rich said.

Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson agreed.

"We haven't gotten the right of way and there's no indication it will be forthcoming," Stevenson said. "The Guana people don't want it, the Sawmill Lakes people don't want it."

An original agreement between the county and the Parc Group, developers of Nocatee, the massive development in northeast St. Johns County and southeast Duval County, was to have the developers either widen 210 or pay the county $5.5 million in lieu of doing the work.

The decision was to be made by 2008, but the county staff asked for an extension until 2012 because they've had difficulty getting the land for the widening. The county has not been able to strike a deal with the state Department of Environmental Protection to get right-of-way land in Guana. And Sawmill Lakes residents don't want the road encroaching farther into their development. Therefore, staff asked for five more years before the decision has to be made.

Instead, the commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to have the Parc Group pay the county the $5. …

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