ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Denied.
That’s the decision about a warehouse distribution center proposed for a stretch of farmland in St. Johns County.
The much debated project came to a head Tuesday at the St. Johns County Commission.
The commission chambers were packed with people had their reasons why it should and should not be allowed.
Elkton is a small farming community between St. Augustine and Hastings.
Chris Shee bought the 90 acres in question. It’s about four miles west of I-95 on State Road 207. He wants to build two large warehouses on that farmland, with up to 1.2 million square feet of industrial space. That’s a little bigger than The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville. He says the organic food distributor KeHe is interested in this site.
"This is a much-needed industrial park in St. Johns County. We have to stop being such a bedroom community for Jacksonville," Shee told commissioners.
Most people in the room who spoke during public comment were opposed to the idea of rezoning the property from agriculture to light industrial. Reasons included concerns about increased traffic, creating a precedent to rezone more of the area to industrial, and losing farmland.
Most, but not all the farmers, in the area who spoke Tuesday told commissioners they oppose the project.
There were others, even some employees of Kehe, who strongly support the project. They say it would bring good-paying jobs to the county.
In the end, the county commission denied the rezoning and the project 4 to 1.