Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MSD Change Facing Opposition from Homeowners

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MSD Change Facing Opposition from Homeowners

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writer

While Ponte Vedra Beach's Municipal Service District board voted last year to curb its own taxing and spending powers, a community association and others are hoping to make sure those powers stay in place in Tuesday's primary election.

Voters who live in the district will decide in a referendum question whether to limit the seven-member board's power.

In November, the board voted 6-1 for charter amendments that would require measures such as voter approval before the MSD levies more than $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, voter approval for projects that cost more than $150,000 and public notices advertising vacancies on the board.

As Election Day nears, so does a formidable opponent: The Ponte Vedra Community Association. The group, which represents 777 homeowners, opposed the measure in November and has sent a letter to all of its members urging them to vote no Tuesday to limiting the board's powers.

Among the reasons cited are unprecedented growth in the area and the possible legal fight for beach access with the environmental group Surfrider Foundation, which wants to open 12 undeveloped and unmarked rights of way along Ponte Vedra Boulevard.

Property owners who could be affected by a population influx and expanded beach access also live within MSD territory, which runs along the east side of Florida A1A to the ocean, from the Duval County line south to Corona Road and south along Ponte Vedra Boulevard to Guana River State Park.

"We consistently oppose the charter changes, especially now with the activity around beach access," said Morris Maple, president of the Ponte Vedra Community Association. "We think the MSD is our sounding board and legal entity to address many of the concerns facing our community, and that is why we are opposing a reduction in its power and spending authorities."

The opposition gained muscle with the formation of the Committee to Preserve the MSD, a 2-week-old political action committee that sent charter-amendment opposition letters to all 1,700 homesteads in the MSD last week.

In its letter, the group wrote: "The MSD is our only community governmental unit through which we can address such issues as beach access, parking, appearance, additional police protection and garbage collection. …

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