Stop Gate from Building a Gas Station on Wetlands
Stop Gate from Building a Gas Station on Wetlands
Sign this petition to ask the St. Johns Board County Commissioners to reverse the decisions of the Ponte Vedra Architectural Review Committee and Ponte Vedra Zoning and Adjustment Board to grant Gate Petroleum zoning and non-zoning variances allowing them to build on the wetlands located at 330 A1A North.
How do I know these are wetlands?
You can go to the St. Johns County Property Appraiser's website (here and here) and view the parcel of land and its designation. Just scroll down to the "Land Information" section. Over 86% of the land is designated as wetlands by St. John's County.
Are these wetlands important?
The close proximity of this area to Guana Preserve means it is likely a natural habitat for various species endangered birds. I would encourage people to visit https://www.saveguananow.org/imperiled-species to learn more about the local ecosystem as they do a far better job than I ever could.
Do the variances have anything to do with the wetlands?
No. It is not clear when the wetlands aspect of the land would be considered during the permitting process or why it has not yet been raised by the County. However there was very little public notice and only a handful of people are aware of the plan to build the gas station and car wash. Our best hope is to appeal what we can to give the community time to spread awareness and address the wetlands issue with the County.
Are there other reasons to appeal these decisions?
Yes! The proposed Gate gas station and car wash will be massive and right on a scenic stretch of A1A. There will be 24 pumps, the car wash will be 145 feet long, and there will be 24 vacuums right next to the sidewalk in clear view. There is a similar Gate gas station and car wash on Beach Boulevard between San Pablo and Hodges however the Ponte Vedra station will be even bigger and their signs are not in keeping with requirements of Ponte Vedra Overlay Regulations. The gas station, car wash, and related signs will destroy the aesthetic of the area.
However it gets worse. For the residents of nearby Dolphin Cove there is reason to be worried about how their properties will drain in the future. The Gate gas station will use pumps to artificially relocate the existing drainage pond. If these pumps fail during a storm it could result in significant flooding of nearby homes. A quick google search reveals dozens of instances of failed lift stations (pumps) resulting in massive property damage.
It gets worse still. In their application to St. Johns County, Gate references that the gas station and car wash are part of a "master planned development" but they refused to share those plans with the County or the public. In the past, Gate planned to build 340 apartments with another developer in addition to their gas station and car wash. This part of their plan would build a retention pond on the border of Dolphin Cove and use pumps to move water into that pond instead of using gravity. If these pumps failed during a major storm it could cause disastrous flooding of the homes in nearby Dolphin Cove. Keep in mind that right now all of those homes drain onto the wetlands of that property where the water naturally percolates or evaporates.
If you look at the plans closely, it appears Gate intends to carve out the piece of land with the lift station pumps and sell it off so that if the pumps fail and Dolphin Cove or other nearby property floods, Gate will not be liable.
Yes! The gas station and car wash will significantly add to light pollution in the area. One of the variances granted allows for higher canopies above the gas pumps which will exacerbate this issue. Also, Gate's lawyers do not want you to have a voice! One of their attorneys sent St. Johns County an email today stating that only people who had attended the PVARC and PVZAB meetings were eligible to petition the Board of County Commissioners. I am not able to find any law, regulation, or legal precedent that states as much but regardless IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG TO TRY TO EXCLUDE THE COMMUNITY FROM HAVING A VOICE in a development that could negatively affect them and the environment we all share.
Where Can I See Relevant Documents?
I've uploaded everything I have and categorized it below.
- You can view screen shots of the county's designation of this property as wetlands here.
- You can view a rendering which shows the scale of the gas station here (upload coming soon, I'll edit this shortly)
- You can view the plan for the proposed gas station and car wash here
- You can view the plan for the previously proposed apartments here
- You can view images which attempt to explain the potential drainage issues here, here, and here.
If I receive any relevant correspondence from Gate Petroleum or St. Johns County I will share it here IMMEDIATELY to keep everyone up to date!