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'Do something:' Residents voice concerns about rapid development in St. Johns County

The county is planning a growth management workshop for late January.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Population boom. It’s happening on the First Coast.

St. Johns County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. The influx of people affects traffic, water and the environment. 

Can it slow down? Some people want it to. The county wants to talk about how to grow, and it wants your ideas.

"We have so much growth," St. Johns County native Karen Roumillet said. She's seen her neighborhood near Fruit Cove explode.

"The traffic here is insane," she pointed to County Road 13. 

The area was a woodsy part of Florida, now it's peppered with plotted subdivisions and more are on the way.

"Future developments that are already approved but not yet built need further review," she noted.

Roumillet is one of many people who, just in the past year, have told St. Johns County leaders to pull the reigns in on development year.

The Andersons near Vilano Beach felt the county was moving too fast regarding a proposed beach resort, and they spoke up. 

"Our neighbors have signed a petition with the request for the county to slow this down until we understand whether it’s feasible," Carol Anderson told First Coast news in November.

Sue Bergeron reluctantly became a leader in her south St. Augustine community when her Winton Circle neighborhood continued to flood.

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"The piece-meal approach to draining and flooding concerns is not working," she told First Coast News in December. "We need to look at the area as more of a unified, functioning unit."

Barb Valentine spoke to commissioners. She’s opposed to clear-cutting.

"The clear cutting is taking away our green space and it’s important for our life, for the air we breathe, and for happiness quite frankly," Valentine smiled.

So as these bold and even mild-mannered residents continued to bring this recurring concern of rapid growth to county leaders, county leaders have chosen to create a Growth Management workshop. Staff will make presentations and residents can state their concerns and ideas about *how to grow.

The St. Johns County Growth Management workshop will be Tuesday Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. at the county auditorium in the building where the county commission meets.

Roumillet passionately added, "As a county, we’ve, for too long, said, 'But that’s the way we’ve always done it.' "But the commissioners before us voted for that.' 'Our hands are tied.' 'What can we do?'" She paused. "Well, I challenge you. Do something! Now’s the time."

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