Publication Date: 12/09/07
A Jacksonville Beach developer plans to apply for permission to build 5,000 new homes on the St. Johns County line near the headwaters of Pellicer Creek.
This project, called Old Brick Township, also will have 150,000 square feet of retail and industrial space plus a one million square-foot industrial park.
The landowner, Wilson Green LLC, has filed a pre-application for this new development of regional impact. The pre-application typically leads to a meeting with all interested parties participating, such as county and regional planners and environmental groups.
Old Brick Road will consist of five villages on 5,216 acres that will wrap around the southeastern corner of St. Johns County, the application said.
No major roads touch the property yet. It sits southeast of County Road 13 and west of Palm Coast. It can be reached at present only by Old Brick Road, which forms its western boundary after branching south off State Road 204 and ending at State Road 100.
The pre-app document said the property's uplands and wetlands have in the past been used for "intensive silviculture operations." The developer intends to rehabilitate, restore and protect natural systems in existence there.
But some environmentalists aren't so sure.
Sarah Owen, spokeswoman for the Florida Wildlife Federation, said this project is only one part of the 19,000 acres Wilson Green bought from previous landowner Holland Ware.
"The (St. Johns River) Water Management District tried to buy it before that, but the owner wasn't willing to sell it to the district," Owen said.
The Federation would like to see a comprehensive plan written to retain existing wildlife corridors while the property is developed, she said,
"It appears that the company is fragmenting (the property)," Owen said. "It's a concern to keep the corridor from the Ocala National Forest to the Matanzas State Forest intact. We have an opportunity to plan for appropriate land uses in the right spot."
About five miles north of Old Brick Township, Wilson Green also wants to build four million square feet of industrial space, 2.5 million square feet of warehousing, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,055 homes on 1,600 acres.
The project, called St. Johns Ridge, sits between state roads 204 and 206 just behind the Interstate 95 rest stop. Access is off S.R. 206.
The site would eventually include hotels and entertainment facilities, its planners said.
Upon completion, it would be the largest industrial park in St. Johns County.
Crescent Beach environmentalist Pat Hamilton called this project "the Nocatee of the south part of the county" pointing out that it would require six-laning I-95 and developing the headwaters of several creeks.
"The traffic implications alone are dramatic," Hamilton said.
Wilson Green has already applied to St. Johns County for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to allow the project and the one to its west, Fishtail Branch PRD.
Developer Paul Z. Fletcher of Fletcher Management Company wants to build homes on part of a 6,100-acre parcel called Fishtail Branch PRD.
PRD stand for "planned rural development," which are projects where home sites are larger and greener, density lower and equestrian facilities available.
Fletcher proposes preserving and restoring 5,200 acres of the property back to its original condition, as it was before it was heavily logged.
Wilson Green's attorney, George McClure of McClure Bloodworth, St. Augustine, could not be reached for comment.
Owen said the wildlife federation has already expressed opposition to changing the county's Comprehensive Plan to accommodate this project.
In a Nov. 13 letter to the County Commission, she said, "(This project) encourages urban sprawl and leapfrog development (and) is not compatible with surrounding land uses."
Click here to return to story: