Statement Regarding Proposed Ordinances 2017-36, 2017-68 and 2017-69
On Monday evening the Board of Directors of Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, Inc. (SPAR) held a special meeting to review proposed City of Jacksonville Ordinances 2017-36, 2017-68 and 2017-69. The board members in attendance voted unanimously to oppose this legislation, on the grounds that the recommended changes to the Springfield Zoning Overlay and Historic District Regulations were drafted without appropriate community input; are unnecessary; are unfairly applied; and are potentially harmful to future development of the historic district. Further, the proposed changes do not accomplish the stated goal of the settlement agreement, which is to protect the rights of disabled citizens to live wherever they choose in Jacksonville. Instead, the effect of the agreement is to single out Springfield to be the default and de facto area in Jacksonville for disabled housing.
(Read below for the full statement)
This legislation relates to proposed settlement agreements negotiated by the City’s Office of General Counsel and several parties alleging that certain actions of the City’s planning department violated Federal fair housing and disability law. The proposed agreements require significant changes to COJ’s zoning code, including a disproportionate number of changes to the Springfield Zoning Overlay and Historic District Regulations.
The Springfield Zoning Overlay was established in 2000 through a partnership between the City of Jacksonville and residents to encourage the revitalization of the Springfield neighborhood. After years of study, the zoning overlay identified a concentration of “special uses” (such as rooming houses and treatment facilities) in Springfield as a detriment to positive development and overall health of the community. The zoning overlay sought to address that imbalance by preventing new such special uses from opening within some portions of the overlay area.
The legislation in question mandates changes to the Springfield Zoning Overlay that are unnecessary and inappropriate. The draft changes to the overlay were made without the input of any community members, and apparently with limited – if any – input from the City’s planning department.
Springfield is a nationally recognized historic district with unique challenges, including 100+ year old infrastructure and traditional development patterns that require consideration. The zoning overlay and related preservation regulations were adopted to protect the valuable historic attributes of the neighborhood. Riverside-Avondale’s historic districts are protected by similar, albeit more recent and more comprehensive, ordinances. Historic attributes of other Duval County communities, such as San Marco and Mandarin, are also protected by overlays that limit certain land uses.
SPAR, and the residents of Springfield it represents, understand and respect the need for disabled citizens to be able to live where they choose to live. While the City of Jacksonville should certainly take measures to ensure that disabled individuals are able to live in the neighborhood of their choice, the proposed changes to the Springfield overlay do not accomplish that goal, and disproportionately impact Historic Springfield. Springfield’s one square mile is already accessible to the disabled and other disadvantaged individuals who choose to live in the community. Springfield is a diverse neighborhood, with a variety of housing options, the majority of which are affordable for low to moderate income residents. In fact, the average income of Springfield residents is well below the median income in Duval County. Many of these housing options are suitable for – and available to – individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, these opportunities are not currently available in many other parts of Duval County.
We encourage the City of Jacksonville to reject the proposed legislation, and instead to focus on a comprehensive solution that provides housing for disabled citizens and other disadvantaged groups throughout the City.
- SPAR Council Board of Directors
City Council should require that any changes to Springfield’s Zoning Overlay and Historic District Regulations be made prudently and comprehensively.
City planners should collaborate with Springfield residents and the Office of General Counsel to craft revisions that ensure that the overlay protects the valuable historic character of the neighborhood and supports high quality development, while protecting the rights of all who wish to make Springfield their home.
- City Council must not approve the proposed settlement agreements so long as they mandate changes to the Springfield overlay that have not been established through an appropriate and thoughtful process.
Opportunities for the public to provide input
The new schedule for public meetings where people can provide their input in-person on this issue is:
February 22nd @ 5pm - the City Council's Land Use & Zoning committee meeting. (City Hall, 1st floor).
February 28th @ 5pm - the full City Council meeting. (City Hall, 1st floor)
- How to provide input via email.
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Subject: 2017-36, 2017-68 and 2017-69
Dear City Council & Mayor Curry,
John & Jane Doe,
1000 Main Street