New gated communities may have extra entry ways

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Gated communities are at the crux of a debate in St. Johns County.

A proposed regulation suggest creating extra entrances into gated communities.

According to County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, the proposed revision addresses new gated communities in northwest St. Johns County, and it would not impact already existing neighborhoods.

However, some people do not like the idea of allowing extra ways in and out of gated communities.

Andrea Anthony chose to live in a gated community in St. Johns County. "I have a young son and I like the fact there's a deterrent for strangers roaming the neighborhood."

When she heard the St. Johns County Commission was considering a revision to the Northwest Sector Plan that calls for extra roads, bike paths or walking paths in northwest St. Johns County gated neighborhoods, she was very upset.

"I think it's alarming. People can walk somewhere and commit crimes," Anthony noted.

As it stands, the proposed revision takes out the current wording which says "gated communities shall be discouraged" and changes it to say "gated communities shall provide connections to collector roads and pedestrian and bicycle interconnectivity, where feasible".

Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson said, "We're not trying to mandate bike and pedestrian connectivity to every neighborhood and roads. These are really the things that have to be considered on a case by case basis."

Stevenson says it would depend on each parcel.

"Some places may be fine with one way in and one way out. Some larger communities may need and front and back door. They may need emergency vehicle access," Stevenson said.

However, Anthony said people in gated communities pay for their own roads. "It comes down to private property rights. Either you respect them or you don't."

But Stevenson stresses the changes to gated communities would only apply to new neighborhoods.

The Northwest Sector plan still has to go through various levels of approval.


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