Gilchrist County BOCC to decide RV park fate today

A public hearing to discuss the proposed RV site known as Pine Ridge RV Park will be considered by the Gilchrist County Board of County Commission on today at 4 p.m.
 
The application for the SUP was submitted by Gary Dounson of Gary Dounson and Associates, Inc. for Aliventures, LLC. The proposal for the overnight RV park includes 374 sites, a swimming pool/clubhouse, a children’s game arcade, a general store and sandwich shop, outdoor seasonal farmers market, a gopher tortoise theater, several office buildings and three distributed wastewater treatment systems with a central wastewater collection system to serve the RV sites.
 
According to the Notice of Public Hearing, the 120 acres are located at the 5700 block of NE SR 47. The property is currently in the Agriculture (A-2) and (A-5) land use category and is located in High Springs but in Gilchrist County. An adjacent 80-acre parcel might also become part of the development. 
 

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The recommendation from the Gilchrist County planning staff was released on Friday, Sept. 18th. On page 6 of the document, the recommendation reads: “The proposed use is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, Land Development Code, and other applicable regulations.
 
“All of the property subject to the application for a Special Use Permit is in Agriculture usage, and is presently described as timberland as shown by the Gilchrist County Property Appraiser’s Office. The requested use of the property is an allowable use under the Land Development Regulations.”
 
Dozens of Gilchrist County residents have been opposed to the development and plan to attend the meeting to state their case.
 

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The decision to move forward or deny the applicant’s request will be determined by the Gilchrist County Board of County Commission after a hearing.
 
Resident Dan Birdsall sent the following letter on Sept. 17th to the Gilchrist County BOCC in opposition to the park.
 
“RE:  Proposed RV Park SUP 2020-07
I am writing you as a resident of Gilchrist County, who would be directly affected by the proposed RV Park on SR 47.  It is my request that you Vote NO on the Special Use Permit coming to the Commission on September 21, 2020.
In my opinion, this proposal does not represent the same solid, long term growth as a permanent single-family 5-acre zoned residential development would.  I ask that you, as my elected representative, instead seek to build a long-term, permanent tax base of quality single family housing that will attract people and families who will have a vested interest in Gilchrist County.
How do you measure the impact of this proposal on the environment and our local resources?  With the potential for a 3,000-person, constantly revolving transient population with no vested interest in the area has a negative impact on our quality of life.  We have already seen massive evidence in the amount of trash being discarded in the Santa Fe River by visiting tourists.  This population is destroying our fragile river ecosystem, creating an uptick in crime, and increasing complaint calls to the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office for issues including:  assault, drug overdoses, and the drugging and alleged rape of a young woman by a 17 year-old male from Naples, Florida.  This also gives me serious concerns about the safety of my family with a constantly revolving population a stone’s throw from my back door.  In my opinion, the Sheriff’s Office is severely understaffed to deal with the potential problems this new population may cause. This will increase response time to other calls for service. Trespassing, robbery, home invasion are a few of the scenarios a large, revolving, transient population could create.
We are in the midst of great societal/political upheaval. Many people no longer respect Law Enforcement, or the previous social norms of a polite society.  We have no knowledge of what the end results of this period of unrest will be. Is this a prudent time to bring unknown strangers to live among us?
One of the major goals for “a New Green Deal” is the elimination of fossil fuels.  That would make the RV industry a dying dinosaur on its last leg.   If fuel becomes unavailable, what would be the future of this RV park?  The economic impact could potentially turn the proposed RV park into a residential trailer park used as affordable housing.  This use is not what I want, and is not consistent with the character of the surrounding rural residential environment.  The company proposing the park is a corporate entity, not a local business.   As displeased as we have been with some of the issues being commented on regarding Ginnie Springs (i.e., noise and traffic, open drug use), the Wrays are a local family that has been here many years.  They have a vested interest in the area, and are not likely to leave anytime soon.  In contrast, the proposed RV park comes from a mysterious shell corporation.  What happens, even if these developers are “the salt-of-the-earth” and build the Taj Mahal, of RV/Trailer parks, and then decide to sell out to someone else?  What assurance do we have that the future ownership will have the same standards as this company claims to have? Stated goals and promises of corporations shift quickly when money is involved.
Past the initial construction phase, very few full time jobs exist in typical RV parks.  Most RV parks that I have visited have a minimal full time staff and are manned by Transient Work Campers, who are full time RV residents that travel from park to park, offering their labor in exchange for a free campsite and utilities. The last large park I visited had over 40 sites reserved for Work Campers, and they were all full.
The above are only a few of my concerns regarding this RV Park. I have a plethora of other questions and concerns that are not stated here.
We ask the Board to uphold the existing zoning, or even the previously approved special arrangement for 5-acre residential properties.

Gilchrist rv site map

You can use the previous precedent set by SUP 12-05 for grounds to deny this new SUP 2020-07.
As an elected Commissioner, I ask you, please consider my request in this matter.”
 
To see the application, supporting documents, and the County recommendation statement click here.

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