Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barriers Start to Come Down for Bigger Jail

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barriers Start to Come Down for Bigger Jail

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- The Clay County government team of

architects and planners that has escorted the proposed county

jail expansion through what has been a tortuous city permitting

process finally got some good news last week.

The city Planning and Zoning Board, which advises the City

Council, at its Thursday meeting recommended approval of the

project's site plan as well as a related land-use change and

rezoning for a parcel the county needs to meet the city's

so-called green space requirements.

"All right," cheered Susan Fraser, county Planning Director,

who clapped her hands excitedly after the board's unanimous

votes.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote

on the recommendations at its Aug. 20 meeting, said Karen Ingle

of the city's Community Development Department.

If the council also signs off on the package, construction on

the $15 million jail expansion -- initially planned to start

last February -- could be under way by November, said Wayne

Allen, the county's jail administrator.

"It could be sooner," he said. "We're ready to go."

Allen said that he and other jail planners are holding their

breath that the delay will not substantially increase the total

cost of the project.

"What we are concerned with is the escalation of costs. I hope

I'm wrong," he said.

The latest delay -- between last week's Planning and Zoning

Board vote and the council consideration in August -- stems in

part from a state requirement that the county advertise the

pending purchase of the parcel needed for parking, said Fraser

and County Attorney Mark Scruby.

Also, the current owner of the property, William Buffington,

does not want the land-use change or rezoning to be done until

ownership is transferred or the county "at least has it under

contract," Scruby said.

If the deal fell through, Buffington could not use the land

under the public/semi-public land-use and zoning category the

county is seeking, he said.

And since that parcel is part of the site plan, council

approval of the site plan cannot be pursued until the land-use

change and rezoning are settled, county officials said. …

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