Arnold takes her oath during the final 2021 County Commission meeting

Historic City News readers attending last week’s meeting of the St Johns County Board of Commissioners on December 21st welcomed Sarah Arnold to the Board.  Arnold took the ceremonial oath of office in the presence of her husband and four children. Her father-in-law, a retired judge, administered the oath. Arnold has been appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Jeb Smith. Her e-mail address is bcc2sarnold@sjcfl.us

In business to come before the Board, as reported by the St Johns County Civic Roundtable, a proclamation was adopted to recognize January as Human Traffic Awareness Month.  Florida is third in the nation in human trafficking.  Bill of Rights Day was recognized for celebrating the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution on December 15th.


  • Fire Chief Prevatt stated that several members of the Emergency Deployment Team have been deployed to Kentucky to assist in the tornado clean-up and removal of debris as well as the long-term housing needs for 674 people. Team members will not return until December 28 and will miss Christmas with their families.
  • The Sheriff’s Office reports it is experiencing the busiest year ever with an annual increase of 15% in 911 calls, 112,375 calls. There have been over 500 crashes this year compared to 378 last year.
  • Clerk of the Courts Brandon Patty thanked the county staff of 100 people who are largely working behind the scenes on a sundry of duties for the county.
  • Modifications to the SilverLeaf DRI were debated which includes expansion onto 2,394 acres with 3,000 new residential units and 250,000 square feet of commercial space. The property is generally located south of the planned First Coast Expressway and east of Trout Creek in the northwest part of the county. Currently, there are over 5,000 dwelling units in review or platted.
    • In response to public comment, the development on Parcel 40 will not be permitted until First Coast Expressway is open to traffic, or January 1, 2030, whichever is first. Lots along Scenic Highway SR 13 will be larger and must have a 75-foot buffer. The developer is contributing more than $65M for approximately 6.2 miles of new roadways.
    • Primarily at issue was traffic congestion and pleas from the area residents to take a pause in consideration of SilverLeaf until the county has a more comprehensive understanding of all the new growth and traffic ramifications at a forthcoming workshop.
    • Despite much public comment, the Board voted 4-1 (Waldron against) to approve the SilverLeaf DRI expansion together with two in-house legal counsel amendments, should the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reject submittal of the adoption package.
  • The Bridle Ridge PUD revisions were approved to add space to the U-Haul facility for boat and self-storage. Also approved was 66,000 square feet of flex space in St. Johns Commerce East for retail, commercial, office, light industrial, warehouse, and distribution located off US-1, south of Nease High School.
  • Hydro Aluminum will now be just named Hydro located on the east side of US 1 and Roehrs Road. Hydro received approval, 4-1 (Blocker against), to expand its operations on-site on 67.44 existing acres owned by the company. Hydro has been operation since 1979 and employs 367 individuals and produced 50 million pounds of aluminum extrusion sales in 2020.
  • Greenbriar Downs PUD modification was adopted to increase the height of a structure for the Church of Eleven 22.
  • The Lightsey Road Storage facility received approval to expand its square footage from 65,500 to 75,282 square feet.
  • Two requests for road impact fee credit transfers were postponed until the Board has a workshop on the overall changes to impact fee credits at the Growth Management Workshop on January 25, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. until noon.
  • Summer Island and Barrataria Island residents gave an information-only overview on issues related to the recent breach of the Summer Haven berm and the effects of the Summer Haven River northern flow in the area. Only a small section of the southern berm was breached during the November Nor’easter, the rest of the FEMA berm held. The residents suggested a commission town hall with the 275 homeowners to discuss issues and potential solutions.
  • There was the first reading of amendments to the Litter Ordinance to prohibit the release of balloons and sky lanterns which received strong public support. The City of St. Augustine and the City of St. Augustine Beach have already adopted such bans.
  • The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee presented an excellent overview of their Annual Report and encouraged all interested parties to obtain a copy. In 2021, affordable housing is becoming out of reach by many county workers and will have a negative impact on economic development unless drastic action is taken by the county. There are 700 housing permits issued each month in the county and real estate values are soaring. The Advisory Committee made many critical recommendations to the Board including:
    • 1- Impact/Utility connection fee relief for homes under $250,000
    • 2- Continue to plan housing near transportation hubs
    • 3- Incentivize Flexible Density Strategies with developers
  • Commissioner Arnold was elected to the Value Adjustment Board and Paul Waldron was elected as its chair.
  • During Commissioner Reports, Henry Dean advocated the need to hire outside counsel with expertise in Water Management District regulations and the county code to address the Marsh Landing flooding issue. Currently, the legal department is short of staff and there is a new County Attorney who has just been hired. Dean recommended hiring Wayne Flowers who had been general counsel to the St. Johns River Water Management District.  Dean represented that Flowers has no conflicts of interest and will work at the government rate. County Attorney David Migut will negotiate an agreement with Flowers which is acceptable to the Board.
  • Paul Waldron would like a status report on the public floating dock at Vilano Beach and asked staff to prepare recommendations on rental fees for charities using county facilities.