The History of World Golf Village – Part V Modification of Development Approvals and Environmental Permits “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help you!”

Posted by: Jim Davidson in News

Despite taking over two (2) years to complete and costing $3.5 million, the Modification of Development Approvals and Environmental Permitting process experience was not that bad. Involved in the process were St. Johns County (SJC), Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council (NEFRPC) and the State of Florida – Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The DCA also coordinates with other state agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

On the environmental permitting side the list of agencies is more extensive to include the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State and local environmental agencies included the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Doesn’t sound too bad so far does it?

Now let’s talk about what we had to achieve to make the project economically feasible. The goals, objectives and requirements of  each process were as follows:

Modification of Development Approvals

  • Reduction of residential densities (13,835 to 7,200) to represent market achieveable densities by product type (Single Family Conventional, Single Family Estate, Patio Home, Town Home, Multifamily) which would also reduce offsite transportation impacts directly impacting financial feasibility.
  • Modification of project phasing schedule to represent actual anticipated development schedule including the construction timetable for the I-95 interchange.
  • Modification of land use concepts by quadrant and individual parcels to reflect anticipated market demand.
  • Establishment of a pre-approved “use” modification schedule which would allow the developer the flexibility to respond to market demands by use type. Changes were based on transportation impacts of each use type.
  • Incorporation of the World Golf Village concept (initially the PGA Tour Hall of Fame) at the center of the northwest quadrant.

Environmental Permitting

  • Determination of net usable land by environmental permitting of the entire project – all agencies. This decision was made based on the continued erosion of land use rights due to increased environmental regulation by all environmental agencies.
  • Since each environmental agency has their own guidelines and definition of what comprises jurisdictional property, all lines by agency were required to be delineated and field marked prior to detail agency review and signoff. Wetland jurisdictional determinations are generally made by hydrology, vegetation and soil type.
  • After field work determination of jurisdictional lines by agency was completed the impact of these lines on the anticipated development plans were considered in establishing the proposed wetland mitigation plan.
  • Agencies were contacted and requested to review and sign-off on the field jurisdictional lines. In order to complete the process all jurisdictional lines, by agency, had to be surveyed.
  • The actual permit applications were then submitted to the various agencies for their review. This part of the process took between 18 – 24 months depending on the agency. The last permit granted was by the Army Corps of Engineers on December 24, 1991 – Christmas Eve.

The complexity of the overall process of modifying the development approvals and completion of the environmental permitting cannot be overstated. While some parts of the process are handled independently, most actions have an immediate effect on some other aspect of the process having almost a rubix effect.

Their efforts were primarily spearheaded by the master developer, now Davidson Development, Inc., and the attorney’s – Pappas, Metcalf, and Jenks now Gunster et al. Other key players included the engineers, surveyors, environmental consultants and a market research firm. It was truly a game of chess with the success of the project on the line.


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