Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nocatee Proposals Collide Officials Respond to Group's Plan to Reroute County Road 210

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nocatee Proposals Collide Officials Respond to Group's Plan to Reroute County Road 210

Article excerpt

A developer's plan to build a major new parkway around the planned Nocatee community is getting a cool reception from some agencies studying the development's effect on traffic in northern St. Johns County.

The proposal by the PARC Group, a company developing the 15,000-acre community, would reroute and widen County Road 210, making it a highway-style road for travel between Ponte Vedra Beach and U.S. 1.

It's part of a package of privately funded road projects, estimated to cost about $100 million, the PARC Group proposed as part of an application for permits to build Nocatee on the Jacksonville-St. Johns County line.

But initial responses from agencies studying the idea include calls for widening the existing County Road 210, building more roads to link the project to property on the north and south, and widening internal roads that were designed to be narrow to promote pedestrian-friendly development.

County Road 210 is a two-lane country road facing increasing traffic because of growth in Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley to the east. County officials have sought to widen it to four lanes.

In addition to affecting a significant traffic corridor, the agencies' challenges also could determine how Nocatee will employ new planning ideas that supporters say will make the project more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The head of an agency that oversees large-scale developments cautioned against changing the project's road plans too fast.

"I want to make sure that we don't take what could be a new town, a sustainable development, and make it another subdivision that covers 15,000 acres," said Brian Teeple, executive director of the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council. "We may have to think outside of the box," he said.

Nocatee's designers touted their original proposal as a way to create a 30,000-person town with a sense of community and convenient access to jobs, shops and public buildings in a town center modeled partly after small-town communities like DeLand.

The town center would be built around the current County Road 210, and Nocatee's designers proposed changing the road's route to divert Beaches-bound traffic past it. If that happened, the current road would allow access to the town center from U.S. 1, but would become part of a grid of roads in Nocatee's main business district.

The project's planners argued that by carefully designing the development and its roads, they could make it possible for people to easily satisfy everyday needs such as shopping without leaving Nocatee. In fact, they said, their design would make it easier to walk around the development or travel by golf cart than to drive anywhere.

But they said a pedestrian-friendly town can't be built with a four-lane highway running through it, and that traffic passing through to the Beaches would overwhelm the area. …

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