Expected Woodbine Growth Top Issue; All Three Candidates for City Council Seats Cite the Need for Development Planning
Jackson, Gordon, The Florida Times Union
Byline: GORDON JACKSON
WOODBINE -- With a population of about 1,200, the county seat is Camden County's smallest incorporated city.
But three candidates for two Woodbine City Council positions say they believe the city will experience a significant increase in residents during the next decade and it's important to prepare for the anticipated growth.
The two candidates with the most votes to the non-partisan seats will serve four-year terms. The election is Tuesday.
Here is a closer look at the candidates.
William Miller said a master plan that is being developed by a consultant will provide recommendations for the best way for the city to deal with creating new zoning ordinances and upgrades to infrastructure in preparation of the growth that's expected to come in the near future.
"We really going in depth to find out what Woodbine can be if we do the right planning," Miller said. "I think we're at the brink, right now. We can be proactive, or we can be reactive."
The city has to prepare for the impact that growth will have on the city's infrastructure, Miller said. Those preparations will include what needs to be done and the best way to pay for the improvements, he said.
"We need to look at development fees," he said. "I don't think it's fair to the residents of Woodbine to pay for a new development."
Miller said the city must strive to maintain a good quality of life for residents, many of whom are middle age or older. The ongoing master plan study and new medical services that are coming to the city will help contribute to ensuring a high quality of life for city residents, he said.
Louise Mitchell said planned developments in city limits and in unincorporated areas at the north end of the county will affect the city's infrastructure and businesses. It's up to elected officials to prepare for the growth, she said.
"We're hoping the developments bring in residents, which will, in turn, bring in businesses," Mitchell said. "Our city has a small population, which makes it tough for businesses to survive."
Completion of a master plan that will make recommendations on the best way for the city to grow is important to give city officials options on how to prepare for growth, Mitchell said. Residents will have an opportunity to provide input at public hearings after the study is completed, she said.
"The plan is a road map for the city," she said. "It's going to give us some good ideas to work from. We're going to use the master plan in the most practical, efficient way we can for the citizens of Woodbine. …