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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jun. 5, 201905:20 AM EST

Traffic, schools concerns raised about project along Hodges Boulevard

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Property owners want to rezone area to allow for mixed-use development. 
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

Neighbors told District 3 City Council member Aaron Bowman and land representatives that a proposed Hodges Boulevard project would exacerbate traffic problems and impact school capacity.

Bowman hosted a community meeting Monday night to introduce and address concerns of neighbors about Ordinance 2019-317, the proposed rezoning of 48.53 acres on the west side of Hodges Boulevard between Butler Boulevard and Glen Kernan Parkway.

The site is across Hodges Boulevard from the Windsor Commons shopping center.

Property owners Hodges Boulevard Development Group Inc. and Kernan Hodges, as trustee of the George H. Hodges Jr. Trust,  propose to rezone the property from one planned unit development to another to allow mixed-use development. 

Proposed uses include up to 970 apartments and institutional, office, retail and commercial uses.

The proposed development area is across the street from the Windsor Commons shopping center. (Google)

The current PUD zoning comprises a 1992 approval for commercial uses, including a shopping center and two out parcels on the northern 23 acres and a 2003 approval for commercial uses on the southern 25 acres.

The 2003 zoning was approved for a proposed 135,000-square-foot Lowe’s Home Improvement store along with 35,000 square feet for an outdoor garden center, 15,000 square feet for outdoor seasonal sales and four commercial outparcels.

Now, owners propose to place multifamily and institutional uses on 28.85 acres along the western side of the property, which would serve as a transition from existing single-family homes to the west and the more intense proposed commercial, institutional and office uses on the 19.68 acres adjacent to Hodges and Butler boulevards.

The proposed residential portion could contain up to 970 residential units.

Attorney Paul Harden, agent for the owners, said the development is required to provide 20 percent of nonresidential use, so he estimates the number of apartment units would be closer to 600 units. The planning department recommends a minimum of 184,858 square feet of nonresidential uses.

Harden told neighbors that current zoning allows the property to be developed with “commercial uses today that would be three times bigger than Windsor Commons across the street.” 

He said the proposed rezoning is a “down-zoning” that is less intense and would generate 35% less traffic than what is currently allowed.

Harden said no developers or users are identified, so the number of apartments and the amount of commercial and office uses are not firm.

City Council President Aaron Bowman hosted a community meeting Monday night about the proposed rezoning of the west side of Hodges Boulevard between Butler Boulevard and Glen Kernan Parkway.

The written description lists the potential uses. The residential units could be either apartments or for sale, depending on the developer. The apartments “will not be subsidized housing,” Harden said in answer to a neighbor’s question.

Harden said the multifamily residential units will be restricted in height to 60 feet, which is four stories. He told homeowners west of the site who are concerned about their privacy that buffers will be incorporated into the plan.

Asked about open space and recreational considerations, Harden said the Hodges family placed 2,800 acres in preservation and park space on the south side of Butler and Hodges boulevards.

Attorney Paul Harden is the agent for the property owners.

The Jacksonville Planning and Development Department recommended approval with conditions, primarily focused on transportation issues. 

Access to the development is possible only from Hodges Boulevard and Glen Kernan Parkway. The property owners will be required to provide a traffic study addressing impacts to adjacent roadways, including possible signalization of the median opening at the entrance to Windsor Commons and other traffic improvements.

The Jacksonville Planning Commission will consider the ordinance June 6. The council Land Use and Zoning Commission is scheduled to review it June 18 and full council June 25.

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