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Clay Updates 2040 Comprehensive Plan

Clay Updates 2040 Comprehensive Plan

Clay Today - by Jesse Hollett - READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County planners have been busy collecting data across the county to redesign the Comprehensive Plan to ensure economic growth is precise and sustainable.

Every seven years, county planners and lead economic voices join to forge what will become the county’s blueprint. The Clay County Comprehensive Plan and companion Master Plans for Branan Field and Lake Asbury govern future land uses through zoning.

2040 Comprehensive Plan Updates

It’s a long process, one involving equal parts public input and prioritization. County planners have held seven workshops across the county, and plan for three more before they begin to parse through the community’s desires to see what is reasonably feasible, economically pragmatic and altogether sustainable for the plan’s half-life of 2040.

County planning officials are currently working to “gauge the pulse of the community,” said Holly Coyle, director of economic development services for the county. “We take everybody’s opinion and we take the goals of the Board of County Commissioners and what they want to achieve, their No. 1 goal is economic development so, of course, we do what we need to do.”

Planners must finish the Comprehensive Plan by the state deadline of Oct. 1. Planners have split Clay County into seven different districts to tailor developments to local sentiment. “In areas like Middleburg, people want to stay kind of rural – people don’t want to develop, they want higher density. With a Comprehensive Plan, you have to provide opportunity for everybody. Not everyone wants to live on a farm and not everyone wants to live in an apartment.”

And while concerns differ from district to district, this gathering period gives the county’s planning department a chance to see what people want to see more of. For instance, many residents want more high-wage manufacturing jobs in the county. Planners can facilitate that through the plan by setting aside land specifically zoned for that purpose.

A top priority in both the commissioner’s and the public is infrastructure. The county will continue to pave the estimated 247 miles of dirt roads still in use. To help pay for this, the county looks towards resurrecting an over decade-old transportation impact fee on all residential and commercial construction.

The county will soon begin an impact fee study to gauge the tax’s effect. But there’s a great deal to get done before then, and a great deal to take into account. For planners, first on both the list of excitements and headaches is the construction of the massive First Coast Expressway.

The multi-lane toll road will eventually extend from Interstate 10 in Duval County moving its way through Clay County to Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. The first leg from I-10 to Blanding Boulevard is currently under construction. Construction for the leg from Blanding Boulevard to the Shands Bridge will begin in 2019.

The road brings with it the hope for explosive development in the center and southern end of the county. The county’s Comprehensive Plan helps make the process as manageable as possible while allowing for highest and best use of property. The Comp Plan will identify land uses while sorting out details such as roads so as not to overburden current roadways as drivers board the expressway.

The new highway requires specialized Master Plans in Lake Asbury and Branan Field.

“The county recognized at the time with a major expressway running through these two areas that it would be wise to plan ahead for development anticipated as a result,” said Ed Lehman, director of the Planning and Zoning Division. “It’s not totally as a result, because Clay County is going to grow anyway, but this is where we expect the growth to go.”

But that’s not the only place planners believe will be the epicenter for growth in the county.

“Green Cove Springs, although it’s rural right now, once the beltway comes through – it’s going to open that for development,” Coyle said.

Residents who want to provide input on the Comprehensive Plan but may not be able to attend a community meeting can still comment. The county has posted a survey on its website at http://www.claycountygov.com/departments/planning-/2025-comprehensive-plan/2040-comprehensive-plan-update-survey.

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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