Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth Worries Residents Politicians Expected to Smooth Changes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth Worries Residents Politicians Expected to Smooth Changes

Article excerpt

ST. AUGUSTINE -- It's growth, stupid.

The key issue shaping St. Johns County Commission and School

Board elections is how the county will develop, and what elected

officials will do to guide it, a group of residents said Monday.

Fifteen panelists from around the county brought together

Monday by the Times-Union and the St. Augustine Record also

wanted to know what candidates would do to conserve natural

areas, protect the environment, and provide parks and recreation

opportunities, especially for children.

The panelists, chosen largely from among the membership of

civic groups, were asked to identify the major issues facing the

county and identify questions they would like local candidates

to answer. The newspapers will use this information to help

guide their campaign coverage.

St. Johns faces Sept. 1 primary elections for County Commission

and School Board seats. The St. Augustine City Commission also

has Sept. 1 primary races. The mayor of St. Augustine will be

elected in November.

The county's rapid development, largely of upscale housing,

also has voters worried that apartments and houses are too

expensive for the many people working for low wages.

Panelists wanted more affordable housing and better-paying

jobs.

"With growth, we are still into the service industry and not

the kind that pays a living wage," said Margaret Brady of St.

Augustine South.

"That impacts all of us. We have to pay for the care they all

have to have."

Those workers also need public transportation. The only service

now is for the elderly.

"We have people that need to go to work, that want to go to

work, and no way to get to work," said Ellen Walden of St.

Augustine South.

And the building boom has some people calling for more roads to

serve existing developed areas, while others fear new roads in

undeveloped areas will invite more construction.

The panelists generally said they would pay more taxes for

transportation, county conservation, parks and recreation and

drainage.

"It's only common sense you're going to have to pay taxes if

you want these things," Brady said.

But they also wanted developers held more responsible for the

cost of public services like roads and schools.

"They want everything they can get without paying for it . . .

I'm paying for it. …

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