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Jacksonville City Council President says he won't add Lot J addendum to Tuesday's agenda

Council President Tommy Hazouri said the project is too big to be rushed and would not be fair to taxpayers.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The massive development proposal that would remake Lot J and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars is on hold again. 

Jacksonville City Council President Tommy Hazouri said Saturday night he will not add the Lot J addendum to Tuesday's meeting. He said he does not think it's fair of the developers, the Jaguars or Mayor Lenny Curry to expect council to review a 200-page document in this short amount of time, and then vote on the proposal by the end of next week. 

Most of all, he said, it is not fair to the taxpayers to rush this.

Instead, he proposed a meeting on Jan. 7, 2021 to spend as much time as needed to talk about the proposal, and then voted on Jan. 12.

"We’re dealing with [...] $300 million that we’re going to be spending, and to ask us to turn something like that around in 36 hours is not fair to them, or to us, and above all to the citizens of Jacksonville," Hazouri explained.

Hazouri gaveled to defer the bill at Thursday's meeting. This means that the bill wouldn't come up at least until early 2021. 

If the discussion regarding Lot J were to take place Tuesday, it would follow nearly 50 other bills, Hazouri said.

”I don’t feel comfortable that the council would even appreciate having to delve through those, and certainly not until the wee hours of the morning," Hazouri explained. "We’re not prepared. We need to digest what they’ve done and what to do, and continue to do, and be able to ask the hard questions and take up the amendments, whatever they are, one at a time and discuss those."

Hazouri added he does not think Mayor Curry, who along with the developers, want City Council to vote before they leave for winter break on Dec. 11, should push the project's timeline. 

“I think he’s going out of his way to rush this," Hazouri said. "I think that’s a selfish approach to something that’s probably the largest public private partnership of a development project in the history of Jacksonville."

"I have been a proud ticket holder of the Jacksonville Jaguars Football Team for 25 years and I want nothing more than to see the team succeed and have a long, successful, and prosperous life here in our hometown,” Hazouri added. 

Hazouri said all sides need time to discuss the proposal before anything is voted on.

”It should give both, I won’t say sides because there shouldn’t be sides, I just think it gives an opportunity to ask the questions, even over the holidays if they’d like, and to do a hurry-up offense, no pun intended, just to get it out for the sake of getting it out, [...] not too much is going to be done over the next couple of weeks with them or with us," Hazouri said. "To take it up after the first of the year would basically be a commitment to spend whatever time we need on that Thursday [Jan. 7]," Hazouri said.

A two-thirds majority of the council could vote Tuesday to override Hazouri's decision. This would mean the addendum could be put on the agenda Tuesday, and there would be a vote on Lot J this week. If not, the vote will not happen until 2021.

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