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FLEMING ISLAND – Plans for a new Wawa to be built at Fleming Island Shoppes drew a sharp backlash from both neighbors and members of the Fleming Island Plantation community during a public …
FLEMING ISLAND – Plans for a new Wawa to be built at Fleming Island Shoppes drew a sharp backlash from both neighbors and members of the Fleming Island Plantation community during a public meet-and-greet held by the property owner and developer on Tuesday night.
To move forward with project plans, the developer, Landmark Commercial Realty, needs an easement from the Fleming Island Community Development District. The CDD currently owns the easement access rights to the property bordering the proposed commercial development, which totals 4,000 square feet.
For the gas station, the developer would request an easement of 2,800 square feet of that space, according to a representative. However, if project plans were to move forward, the Wawa’s access road would cross directly over the Black Creek Trail, which thousands of Fleming Island residents use for recreational activities such as walking and biking and traveling to and from school and work.
Most of the packed audience voiced deep concerns with the potential new development.
A litany of issues was raised by neighbors, many of whom were displeased with the possibility of another new gas station/convenience store in an area already containing seven within a three-mile radius of the proposed new site.
The concerns included the potential of increased traffic and safety concerns for motorists, bicyclists, children and seniors, and, of course, the rerouting of Black Creek Trail, which would be required if plan blueprints were to indeed move forward.
However, the developer maintained that the Wawa would alleviate traffic congestion because it would provide another ingress/egress access point in an already highly-trafficked area. “We know there are a lot of concerns about how traffic comes in and out of that area, but creating another point of access, ingress and egress, allows for this intersection to not have to take on the amount of traffic that would have to come in through here to utilize this development here,” a representative from the developer said.
A special, 350-foot, right-turn lane on U.S. Highway 17 would be constructed if final blueprints were approved, which would have to be built to FDOT standards. The Wawa would only be accessible via the special right turn. Then, when leaving, customers would be required to continue heading south on the highway.
To answer pedestrian and bicyclist concerns, a crosswalk and a series of pedestrian stop signs would need to be established. A rerouted Black Creek Trail would also have to be constructed before the groundbreaking of the gas station.
Many steps would remain for the project to be approved, which would include a permitting process with the FDOT, a review from Clay County, and finally, an architectural review from the CDD.
A traffic study by the developer found that 135 trips would be made during the peak hour of the business week, which would be 8 a.m. The public meeting was held at 2349 Village Square Pkwy.
At the end of the meeting, District 1 Commissioner Mike Cella offered public comment to the developer.
“Here’s my problem. We’ve come this far with all of the design and work, and they’ve never once talked to anyone in the county. Only with my initiative here is the county even involved. If I wasn’t here, they never would have talked to the county. They’ve been planning this thing for months,” he said.
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