Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Scenic 13' a Long Trip, Group Told

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Scenic 13' a Long Trip, Group Told

Article excerpt

Twenty-five St. Johns County residents learned they face a long

and winding road if they want to secure a Florida Scenic Highway

Designation for Florida 13.

During a 90-minute meeting Thursday with state transportation

officials, they heard it could take years of grass-roots

cooperation before they come up with a management plan

preserving the history and beauty of that 30-mile stretch of

winding country road between Fruit Cove and Hastings.

Even so, some at the meeting in the Bartram Trail branch

library wondered if a management plan would really preserve the

look of the tree-lined roadway from development.

"It seems to me that the train has left the station," said Don

Beattie, referring to all the development that has occurred in

the past few years.

"Two years from now, if we get the designation, that will be

very nice," he said. "But things are already happening that

people are concerned about."

The Florida Department of Transportation can't make any changes

in a county's zoning rules or tree ordinances, said state scenic

highway program coordinator Gene Keeler. But he said the

advocacy group can include changes in the management plan if the

community agrees those are needed to preserve the scenic and

historic elements of Florida 13. Then, if the state approves the

plan, the residents already have the support to get the county

to make the changes in the plan.

"You determine what you will have on your road, not

government," Keeler said. "I don't see this program as rules and

regulations from government. This is agreement among the people

that says this is the way we want to see our community and we

are going to enforce it."

The residents have formed a corridor advocacy group to begin

the process of getting state scenic designation for the roadway.

Guided by Keeler, they will set up committees and draw up a

management plan that proves the road has major historical,

archaeological, cultural, recreational, natural and scenic

aspects that need to be preserved.

Thursday's meeting brought together residents, landowners,

County Commissioner Pal Howell and two state transportation

officials to learn about the management plan they will need to

draw up to preserve the road's scenic and historical aspects.

That plan could include proposed changes in county laws to

protect trees, historic and scenic sites. It could also propose

that informational brochures be printed on the road's history,

even how many information kiosks would be set up along the road

to entice visitors to stop and view the area.

The only advocacy group that is close to getting state approval

on its management plan is in Pensacola, and then only after two

years of work. …

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