The Sailer report: Bowden homestead at the center of the debate about rededication | Jax daily record | Jacksonville Daily Record
More than 7,000 people signed a petition to stop the proposed rededication of the property for a subdivision along the north side of Loretto Road in Mandarin.
Opponents of the rezoning at Change.org, an online petition platform, see the website as a “historic Bowden homestead” that includes a historic house and farmland with a pecan grove.
Jacksonville-based developer Curtis Hart with Hart Resources LLC is proposing a proposed unit development of 55-70 foot wide lots that are less dense than the existing development to the west and north.
The PUD ties the development to a specific site plan and defines architectural controls for the houses. Hart Resources said it was ready to preserve the historic portion of the home by moving it onto the property.
Local historian Wayne Wood wrote in his 1989 book Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage that the two-story white house built in 1907 for Fleming H. Bowden was “an important link to Mandarin’s architecture.”
Wood wrote that the house on Loretto Road had the “strong vertical character” of the time. The house originally had a two-story porch wrapped around its right side.
He wrote that Bowden was a blacksmith and greengrocer who served on Duval County’s electoral board for 21 years until his death in 1964.
Charles and Murel Cissell bought the house and 10 acres of the Bowden estate in 1963 and added additional lots for a total of 23.59 acres.
Spencer Cissell, her son and one of the heirs, said the house was in need of extensive repairs when the Cissells bought it. It had been a rental property and the porch had been removed. In 1995, Charles Cissell withdrew the house 50 yards when the city widened Loretto Road.
Charles Cissell pulled the house back from the end of the sidewalk when Loretto Road was widened in 1995.
Spencer Cissell said his father was a “horse dealer” who bought and sold land, raised cattle, and farmed the property. He had a slaughterhouse and in 1965 he installed the white fence to contain the cows.
Charles Cissell moved most of the buildings onto the property. Of the 23 pecan trees, eight are alive but nearly dead, said Spencer Cissell.
The property’s four children, Charles and Murel Cissell, sell the property to keep it running.
Spencer Cissell said he would buy the property from his sisters if he could afford it. He also said that if the builder doesn’t want the Bowden house they are willing to donate it.
The property has been for sale since 2018 and is attracting the interest of developers.
The property is a residential area in the countryside so one house per acre or possibly 23 houses is possible. The land use designation is low density housing, like most of the surrounding land. Land in the north is residential in zones of medium density.
The PUD is proposing 22 more apartments for the site, more than can be built directly under the current development.
Hart Resources said it is an infill development that is compatible with development in the environment.
Hart said the proposed homes would sell for more than most of the adjoining homes, adding to the property’s value.
District 6 city councilor Michael Boylan set up a five-person local residents’ committee, led by Tracey Arpen, to investigate possible impacts on the neighborhood.
Arpen has served on the Comprehensive Plans Advisory Committee and is the retired city’s deputy general counsel and head of land use and environmental law.
Arpen said the concerns are centered on the increased density, preservation of old houses, traffic on Loretto Street, drainage and the impact on schools. The problems are:
Density: The suggested minimum lot size is larger than the allowed lot sizes west and north of the site.
The House: Hart said he was ready to move the house to new lot along Loretto Road. The city planning and development department said the site “has no locally or nationally designated land. There is an old house on the site, but it currently has no name. ”
Traffic on Lorettostraße: The analysis by the planning department predicts 9.44 vehicle journeys per day per lot or 519 based on 55 lots, 302 more than the number that can be added without rezoning.
Drainage: City and state regulations require that development rainwater systems be designed so that runoff does not increase. Most of the existing residential lots to the west, between Kennedy and Gwynford Lanes, are in a high risk zone established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency where flood insurance is mandatory.
School capacity: The review of school capacities by the planning department based on 56 residential units at the time of the analysis shows that capacities are available for the expected additional students in the service area.
“We hope that we can find a compromise that retains some of the character of property but respects our legal property rights and our right to fair compensation for our property. Our parents didn’t want less, ”said Spencer Cissell.
The first hearing with the town planning commission is not scheduled.