School system also wants changes to relax Nocatee's requirements.
Residents grill Nocatee developer
Beaches Leader/Ponte Vedra Leader, Feb. 14, 2008
by GRAY ROHRER, Staff Writer
Greg Barbour might have felt more like a punching bag than a developer Monday night.
In front of an audience of about 50 at the Palm Valley Community Association meeting, Barbour was peppered with questions about the Parc Group's proposal to add 541 acres to the 15,000-acre development of Nocatee west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Barbour, a principal in Parc, master developer of Nocatee, explained that single-family homes would be built along the Intracoastal north of County Road 210. The land is needed to free up land within Nocatee for parking and ball fields, Parc has said.
Mary Kohnke, who as a St. Johns County commissioner in 2001 voted to approve Nocatee, questioned Barbour’s integrity, saying he promised Nocatee would not approach the Intracoastal.
“You said you would never dream of touching the Intracoastal," Kohnke said to Barbour. "And here you are . . . years later,” she said.
Kohnke said the land should be added to Nocatee only if a 200-foot buffer separated the homes from the Intracoastal and if no docks were allowed.
“If you’re going to do it, then do what any other developer with personal integrity would do and buffer it,” she told Barbour.
“That’s not fair,” he replied.
“You weren’t fair when you came to me . . . and said you wouldn’t touch the Intracoastal,” she retorted.
Residents also vented their frustration over the reasoning behind the project and the environmental impact development would have on the area.
Barbour said by adding the 541 acres, the Parc Group could create football and soccer fields just west of Davis Park that would provide 7,500 parking spaces for the PGA Tour during the annual Players Championship golf tournament.
Vernon Kelly, project manager for the recent $65 million renovations to the TPC course and clubhouse, told residents the extra parking will be needed as the PGA Tour expands and promotes the tournament.
But residents did not understand the connection between the Tour’s need for extra parking and the annexation of lands along the Intracoastal.
“For one week of parking you’re going to take over all this land?” one resident asked.
Kohnke said no one has made a concerted effort to use Davis Park as a parking area during the tournament.
“We talked to the [St. Johns County] Recreation and Park Department about parking at Davis Park. The situation was such that parking would cause severe damage,” Kelly said.
But Kohnke countered, saying the soccer fields need to be renovated anyway, and they could provide ample parking for the tournament.
“There’s no reason you can’t use those fields back there,” she said.
The Parc Group's proposal, which was submitted to county planners in December, would add to Nocatee 541 acres along the west bank of the Intracoastal Waterway north of County Road 210.
Although Barbour said the plan calls for the development of 141 acres for single-family homes with 400 acres preserved, residents said the environmental impact would be prohibitive.
“You’re building in an estuarine area. If you build just one house in that area, it's going to have an impact,” one resident said.
“That’s what I find so appalling - that you would pollute the estuary to build these homes,” Kohnke said.
Residents also said the Intracoastal lands epitomize the ‘Old Florida’ landscape, something rapid development is quickly wiping out.
Barbour countered that the additional lands along the Intracoastal are the “spoil lands” that were the result of the dredging done by the Army Corps of Engineers more than 50 years ago.
“These lands have already been affected by man,” he said.
He added that the Parc Group would develop the area in an organized manner, something future developers may not do.
But residents were not buying Barbour’s arguments.
“How much more land are you planning to annex? You seem to be taking areas that don’t belong to you,” said Phyliss Abbatiello, a resident of Northwestern St. Johns County.
Barbour said the proposal is still being reviewed by county planners. He said the process of getting the plan approved by the Board of County Commissioners could take up to a year.
Barbour is scheduled to speak to the Ponte Vedra Beaches Coalition at 10 a.m. Feb. 25 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library.
School District wants ease of Nocatee rules for new Ponte Vedra High School
BL/PVL Feb. 7, 2008
by GRAY ROHRER, Staff Writer
The St. Johns County School District is asking the county to ease Nocatee’s sidewalk and landscaping requirements for Ponte Vedra High School, being built on land donated by the Nocatee developer.
Nocatee, a 15,000-acre development along Nocatee Parkway west of the Intracoastal Waterway, requires sidewalks on both sides of streets and requires a tree every 100 feet — both of which exceed School District standards, according to Tim Forson, executive director of facilities and operations for the district.
“Part of it [the reason for the request] is to reduce costs," Forson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "[But] it’s really an effort to reduce the standards back to what School District standards are in the rest of the county.”
The request, scheduled to be heard Thursday by the St. Johns County Planning and Zoning Agency (PZA), applies to the portion of Davis Park Road that leads to Ponte Vedra High School, after the road splits, with its western branch heading into Davis Park and its eastern branch heading to the school.
The costs for building Davis Park Road are being shared by the School District, the Parc Group — master developer of Nocatee — and New Beginnings Baptist Church — being built north of the school, closer to Nocatee Parkway.
But Forson said the School District would benefit most from costs saved in easing the requirements because the district "carries the heaviest burden" for the road's costs.
The district wants a sidewalk only on the west side of its portion of Davis Park Road, whereas Nocatee is required to have sidewalks on both sides.
Also, the School District wants to place one tree every 150 feet along both sides of the school's portion of Davis Park Road rather than every 100 feet as required in Nocatee.
Other proposed changes would allow for a cheaper swale drainage system, rather than the “curb and gutter” system Forson says is currently required, and would exempt the School District from paving a portion of the road next to the site for the school's practice football field and tennis courts.
Although the area wouldn't be paved, it would have a “stabilized surface” for parking, according to the School District’s application to the county.
The application also states that School Board members and county commissioners discussed the changes during a joint meeting in February 2007, and the requested changes “received a general consensus."
“These additional requirements serve as additional costs to taxpayers and require the spending of limited dollars better directed to the classroom and the education of students,” the application says.
The PZA will consider the request at its 1:30 p.m. meeting in the county auditorium in St. Augustine.
The PZA's recommendation will go the the County Commission, scheduled to hear the proposal Feb. 19, also in the county auditorium.