Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Conflict over Road Paving Resolved Yulee: Application Gets Water District OK

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Conflict over Road Paving Resolved Yulee: Application Gets Water District OK

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Nassau County and St. Johns River Water Management District officials found a solution last week to a permitting conflict that threatened to delay a Yulee subdivision's plans to pave its privately owned roads.

Problems arose because Nassau County, which is taxing homeowners in the area to pay for the project, submitted a permit application to the district under its name, and not the homeowners' association.

The county would qualify for a Class D permit, a streamlined permit category available only to municipalities and counties paving publicly owned dirt roads.

David Miracle, director of the district's Jacksonville Service Center, said the district created the category about 20 years ago to support efforts by counties and cities to pave dirt roads, which are a source of environmentally damaging sediments that clog waterways.

Public Works Director Jack D'Amato and Pirate's Woods project engineer Henry Vorpe signed the application for the Class D permit.

Vorpe, speaking during a public hearing commissioners held July 1 to discuss the permitting situation, said he had understood from a meeting with a water district official that the permit could be applied for under the Class D category with Nassau County as the applicant.

D'Amato said he signed the permit without researching the district's rules himself, based on Vorpe's understanding and the county's role collecting the special tax.

"It was a mistake on my part," D'Amato said.

The district issued the permit to Nassau County in May, making it liable for any problems arising from the project and responsible for the permanent maintenance of the roads.

That came as a surprise to County Attorney Michael Mullin, who said he and commissioners were unaware that the permit was issued in the county's name until a Pirate's Woods homeowner brought it to his attention.

Commissioners never authorized the permit to be in the county's name, Mullin said.

"Obviously the permit should have been in the name of Pirate's Woods in the first place," Mullin said.

Water district officials also said they weren't aware that Nassau County didn't own the roads until the same homeowner told them, and the district's legal department initially threatened to revoke the permit. …

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