Countering Gate's False and Misleading Claims
Gate spokespeople and Ponte Vedra Corporation attorneys continue to make false, misleading, and defamatory claims in news articles and reports about the Outpost controversy. This page does not address their many false claims made in legal documents or in the application for PUD, but focuses only on statements that have repeatedly appeared in news coverage, as seen here and here and here. We've provided our responses below, and we ask that media outlets refrain from publishing the corporation's claims unless our responses are included, for the sake of accuracy and in fairness to both sides. This is not a complete list of false claims.
1. Gate has stated "It's false to claim that the entire 99-acre Outpost property has ever been in conservation." Yet St. Johns County's response to Gate's proposal includes this statement: "The subject property is designated Conservation on the Future Land Use Map." Furthermore, Gate seems to consider the Outpost to be conservation land for at least one day every year - April 15th - when the corporation pays very low taxes on it as conservation land!
2. Gate falsely claims that "independent environmental firms" concluded the Outpost harbors no significant animal species or habitat. In fact, the habitat and species survey that Gate provided to the county was NOT independent and was commissioned by Gate who bought and paid for the survey's conclusions. The slogan of the company who prepared the report is "Our Science. Your Success."
3. Gate says our attempt to prevent development is "a land grab by some who want to utilize the [Outpost] property as their own private greenway." That's a baseless, ad hominem attack that Gate has provided to three local television news shows in an attempt to smear Save Guana Now.
4. Gate's attorney told the Ponte Vedra Recorder: "To put the mantle of 'environmentalist" over [Save Guana Now members who live near the Outpost] is a little obnoxious." Save Guana Now's mission has been endorsed by the following environmental organizations: Sierra Club and Audubon Society of northeast Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife and North Florida Land Trust. So the environmental argument is clearly very legitimate, regardless of where the advocate lives. Gate's attorneys are constantly trying to confuse the public into thinking conservation land at the Outpost is the same thing as residential land near the Outpost. They are wholly different.
5. Gate/PVC claims Save Guana Now is comprised of a few neighbors on Neck Rd., adjacent to the Outpost property. We have more than 1500 followers on Facebook and the great majority of our donations are from outside of the Neck Rd. neighborhood, from Gainesville to St. Augustine, from Jacksonville to Amelia Island.
6. Gate's attorney said "Now that they have their homes with the views they like, all of a sudden they read the comp plan very differently, and they travel on an oversimplification that is not accurate." The implication that homeowners are doing something duplicitous by striving to protect conservation land is unwarranted. The party that is reading the comprehensive plan "differently" is the one that claims the entire Outpost property is not in conservation.
7. Gate's attorney said "We're not trying to avoid a public hearing process." and "All we have ever asked for is a fair hearing in front of the county commission." The actions they have taken have thus far have circumvented the public hearing process. If they had wanted hearings, they could have requested them by now.
8. "Wildlife seen in the adjacent Guana lake [adjacent to the Outpost] have their breeding, feeding, nesting and roosting habitat needs well met by core estuaries and upland buffers located within the GTMNERR."
If all of these creatures have their needs well met, then why are 14 species threatened or endangered that have the potential to live at the Outpost? Clearly, their needs are not well met or their numbers would not be declining. Loss of habitat is the #1 reason for decline of animal populations.
A flock of roseate spoonbills - state designated threatened - feeding in Guana Lake, with the Outpost in the background. May 2018
Above right: A tricolored heron - state designated threatened - flying over Lake Guana near the Outpost property. December 2017