A dispute over whether a developer can build a self-storage building in San Marco could come to a head week.

The Jacksonville City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a zoning change that has met angry opposition from businesses and residents.

Residents spoke against the five-story self-storage building during a Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting this month. The building would be situated at the intersection of Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue in the Downtown Southbank.

Developer Boyd Simpson said the project would benefit the area.

“Our objective is to add value to the neighborhood — to add activity to the neighborhood,” Simpson said. “We want to do the right thing. If you look up the facts and circumstances, I believe you’ll be able to support the project.”

Self-storage is not allowed within the zoning guidelines in the Southbank district of the Downtown overlay, which is why the applicant is submitting a rezoning request.

Seventeen people unrelated to the project spoke against it at the meeting. DeVon Hardy, a Jacksonville resident, said he lives a block from the proposed structure.

“Would you want a five-story warehouse in your front yard? I wouldn’t think so,” Hardy said. “I don’t know how much more strongly I can say we don’t want a storage facility in our neighborhood.”

Project experts Martha Moore, Michael Saylor and Ron Moody each talked about their role and how the project could benefit the area. Moore, a professional traffic operations engineer, said the project would improve traffic in the area.

“The project will not create unsafe traffic conditions,” Moore said. “It’s actually going to improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety by closing curb cuts within the functional area of the intersection of Prudential and Hendricks.”

City Council considered the proposal a year ago but delayed a decision, referring it to committee after more than an hour of debate and opposition from more than 120 residents and business owners.

Several council members expressed concerns, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record.

Council member LeAnna Cumber, who represents the Southbank and San Marco, said the change could allow storage facilities deep within the Downtown boundaries and negatively affect millions of dollars in incentives the city has awarded over the past decade, the Daily Record reported.

Liz Figura, a human resources worker with a degree in industrial labor relations, said this month that she did not want the proposed structure to hurt the appearance of San Marco.

“San Marco is one of Jacksonville’s destination neighborhoods due to its historic significance and charm,” Figura said. “Adding a zombie building to what is becoming a walkable neighborhood does nothing to enhance the panache of the Southbank.”

Lauren Carlucci, a representative of the San Marco Preservation Society, said the construction would be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan for development in San Marco.

“A key to the comprehensive plan is a gradual transition in intensity and density, and what this project does is instead of creating that gradual transition, it creates an undulation,” Carlucci said. “We don’t want that. What we want is a gradual transition so that as you get closer to the more dense areas that the density and intensity is greater.”

Article originally published at WJCT News by Joshua Pantano. Joshua Pantano is a summer intern at WJCT News. He was previously a staff writer for the Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student-run newspaper, and a newscaster and reporter for WICB and VIC Radio, Ithaca College’s student-run radio stations.

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