2014: Ponte Vedra Corporation planned to develop the pristine conservation land known as the Outpost, then delayed plans after outcry.
The 99 acres comprising the Outpost have been designated "conservation" since 1990. For many of those years, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club utilized a small section of the property in a very low impact way. A rustic building for weddings was used on average once per month - an example of land use that's respectful of the wildlife and environment - leaving most of the pristine property untouched. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has stated that it will "continue to monitor the site and work with partners to pursue potential acquisition if funding becomes available and if the owners are willing to consider a sale of the property."
Enter Dream Finders Homes, based in Jacksonville, the third fastest growing private building company in the the U.S. A deal is struck with Ponte Vedra Corporation/Gate Petroleum, and suddenly, the Outpost property is in peril as the company seeks Residential C
zoning, meaning as many as four homes per acre could be built
on 75 upland acres at the end of Neck Rd. - the only point of
entry. Conservation groups strongly oppose development of the Outpost, from Sierra Club to Audubon to Florida Land Trust. Residents and environmentalists began meeting with county officials to express outrage about the development of conservation land.
During a meeting with residents, Ponte Vedra Corporation attorney Ken Wilson informed residents that Mr. Peyton's first choice would always be for the land to be sold to the state for conservation.
Late in 2014, the Ponte Vedra Corporation/Gate Petroleum announced it would not seek a land use change for the Outpost property for at least twelve months. Residents and conservationists applauded this as a possible opportunity for the state to at least have an opportunity to purchase the land. But this did not happen.
What is required for consideration of purchase by the state is a non-binding document that indicates intention to sell . The Ponte Vedra Corporation unfortunately ignored all pleas from residents to submit the application for it to be considered for purchase by the state, despite Attorney Wilson's earlier assurance that Mr. Peyton preferred to sell the land to the state.
"The [Outpost] property contains unique environmental qualities and County staff agrees with the current Conservation Land Use of the subject parcel due to those unique qualities, surrounding areas and the amount of impact to environmentally sensitive areas caused by a change from Conservation to another more intense Land Use." -Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
2016: A contract between the Ponte Vedra Corporation and a developer again looms over the "missing piece" of Guana.
The Ponte Vedra Corporation again seeks to
develop this environmentally sensitive piece of
land, surrounded on all sounds by a diverse and ecologically important habitat. An application was submitted to the county, July 11, 2016 along with a Master Comprehensive plan, a Project Overiew and other supporting documents.
Dream Finders Homes was once again in contract with the Ponte Vedra Corporation and planned to develop the property with 77 home sites including 26 along the water's edge, with little buffer to wetlands. This development would cause habitat
destruction and contamination of Guana Lake, running counter to the abutting GTM's goal of preserving and increasing imperiled animal populations. This number was changed to 66 homes in July, 2017 when PVC submitted a new application to the county.
Adding 66 homes at the end of Neck Rd. would add roughly 650 car trips up and down Neck Rd. every day. There is no outlet at the Outpost; the only way in and out is via one no-outlet road. This would create traffic back-ups, and children would be endangered by the nearly doubling of traffic on their street -- an avalanche of cars and construction vehicles. The consequences of having just one way out for 197 homes during a hurricane evacuation could be tragic. We intend to take every step necessary to ensure that plans to develop the property are unsuccessful.
Although we are encouraged to learn that the Ponte Vedra Corporation expressed its intent
to make the land available for preservation if
development plans do not materialize and the contract is no longer in effect, PVC is nevertheless aggressively pursuing development of the land, forcing St. Johns County residents and environmental groups to invest time and resources to save the property from the bulldozer.
August 14, 2016, Save Guana Now received its first coverage in the press - the front page story of the Sunday St. Augustine Record, a Times-Union story on the front page of the Metro section, and the story was even picked up by a national wire service - the Associated Press.
Sept. 12, 2016, Ponte Vedra Corporation filed a lawsuit against St. Johns County, and in response, the county hired an outside attorney to handle the case. That case was settled after a judge ruled that PVC could not have the behind-closed-doors ruling it demanded to have the property changed from conservation to residential. Although Dream Finders Homes' contract with PVC lapsed, DFH would still build the homes, should the path be cleared for development, according to DFH's marketing director.
Please go to our Latest Update page for current news on the proposed development.
We cannot stress enough the importance of involving every resident and organization with an interest in preserving the land and protecting the wildlife. Please add your name to our list. It doesn't cost a dime to do so. We will let you know how you can help.