Publication Date: 10/06/09

Two adjacent, connected and related developments off U.S. 1 South and Faver Dykes Road — one residential, one commercial — will be considered for approval this morning by the St. Johns County Commission.

Both projects together make up what developer Edmond R. Saoud of First Coast Ventures LLC calls Hyde Park.

He is asking the county to rezone 179 acres from open rural to planned rural development in order to build 37 single-family homes on one-acre lots.

Most of the residential area — 165 acres, or 92 percent of the parcel — will remain undeveloped.

There is a large gopher tortoise population living on those two properties. One resident estimated it to have 1,000 nests, along with deer, bears, turkeys, bobcats and foxes.

The adjacent 90-acre portion is designated as mixed-use, which allows commercial, residential and industrial uses. There the developer wants to put 295,568 square feet of commercial space, 55.149 square feet of office space and 25 single-family homes.

This is the second request to rezone this area. The first, in 2006, asked for hundreds of homes.

Doug Burnett of St. Johns Law Group, representing First Coast Ventures, said Monday that in July, the county’s Planning & Zoning Agency recommended approval for the residential portion but voted 4-3 to recommend denial of the commercial portion.

“Since then we’ve modified the text (of the application) and agreed to put in central water and sewer and (in response to the lack of a nearby fire station) to equip our buildings with fire sprinklers.”

He would like the county to approve both sites.

Residents along Faver Dyke Road had expressed dismay that the developer’s plan to use septic tanks in both portions would have threatened to contaminate pristine Pellicer Creek.

To get county water to the site, the developer would have to run a 7.5 mile, $8 million pipeline from State Road 206.

In addition, through directional signs, less traffic will find itself using narrow Faver Dykes Road.

“From our increasing traffic to 83 percent of the road’s capacity, we’ll increase it only to 50 percent,” Burnett said.

Planners have also moved two proposed hotels totaling 175 rooms from Faver Dykes to U.S. 1, found ways to control all storm water on their site and decided to build “green,” he said.

In addition, the company will pay for studies to determine how careful use of reduced light and noise can prevent disturbances to local residents and wildlife.

Saoud’s company built St. Johns Town Center in Duval County.

Burnett said, “We think that what we’ve done is address all the concerns that were expressed. Our presentation will show how we’ve addressed them.”

What, where, when

The St. Johns County Commission will meet today at 9 a.m. in the County Auditorium, 500 Sebastian View, off U.S. 1 north of the city.

Two public hearings on Hyde Park are items three and four on the agenda.

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