County Administrator Highlights Growth at St. Johns Chamber Breakfast

County Administrator Highlights Growth at St. Johns Chamber Breakfast

St. Johns County Administrator Joy Andrews had a simple message for those attending the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council Quarterly Breakfast.

“St. Johns County growth, it’s a really loaded topic,” she said. Andrews wasn’t exaggerating, highlighting several projects underway in the county as well as a look at the comprehensive planning process in a nearly 45-minute presentation.

While growth is a good thing – and St. Johns County has seen a lot of it over the past few years – Andrews said it comes with challenges.

One of those challenges is to meet the needs of population growth as more individuals and families choose to live their Florida dream in St. Johns County. Andrews said in 2023, the county permitted 5,286 single-family homes, more than neighboring counties. And 2024 has gotten off to a hot start with another 633 permits issued in January alone.

“That’s a lot of families who wanted to move here,” she said. “And that’s not really all of them.”

That kind of growth means county officials have to work hard to manage it to ensure a good quality of life for residents old and new.

“It’s time we get a grasp on how we adapt to growth, with expansion, with change so that we are resilient,” Andrews said. “We have learned from town hall meetings that natural resource conservation is so vitally important for all of us who live here.”

Andrews reviewed several projects recently completed or under construction, including water treatment facilities, transportation improvement projects, public safety efforts and infrastructure improvements.

Speaking about State Road 210, where she said she actually lives, Andrews acknowledged the need for improvements.

“The frustration of the 210 is an ongoing saga, but we’re going to talk about positive things today,” she said. “Our board of county commissioners unanimously directed staff, directed the county attorney’s office to take any and every legal measure to make sure we’re holding our developers accountable.”

On the subject of financial stewardship, Andrews highlighted several instances where the county was able to leverage state and federal funds to cover the cost of road improvements, parks development, beach protection and other important issues.

Andrews also touched on open government and transparency efforts underway in the county to keep residents informed of projects and issues. Those efforts include the creation in 2023 of the Office of Performance and Transparency.

“You’ll know what we’re doing great; you’ll know what we’re doing wrong,” she said.