County Commission stands behind Design Review Board denying the appeal to build Vilano Beach Hotel

Commissioners voted Tuesday morning in their regular meeting to deny ARC Appeal 2021-01 to build a 194-room Vilano Beach Hotel; upholding the decision of the North Coastal Design Review Board and denying the design review request for a new hotel-based mixed-use development.

After overwhelming public participation, Historic City News watched as the newly reorganized Board voted unanimously to uphold the lower Board’s recommendation.  The applicant, Key International, Inc., was represented by Rogers Towers attorney Ellen Avery-Smith.

After hearing from Vilano Beach residents and citizens who believe their concerns had not been adequately heard or addressed, Jim McLane, Chairman of the St. Johns County Civic Roundtable, wrote to the Board on November 12, 2021, urging them to follow the recommendation of the Design Review Board and to reject the Vilano Beach Hotel, as well.

“The Vilano Beach Hotel proposal is one more example of the county’s need to conduct growth management and visioning workshops as soon as possible.  Builders, developers, and citizens share many of the same concerns and issues related to the continuing fast pace of growth,” McLane wrote, speaking for the Roundtable. “Now is the time to bring all groups together to have this conversation and work toward solutions to ensure that we can accommodate growth but also maintain the quality of life that we treasure in St. Johns County.”

The Civic Roundtable, whose purpose is to preserve and improve the quality of life in St. Johns County, shared concerns about the issues related to traffic, fire safety, necessary infrastructure, and incompatibility with the Vilano Beach overlay district.

McLane cited another issue that had been raised as to whether or not the local private utility, North Beach Utilities, had the capacity to serve the proposed Vilano Beach Hotel in addition to the two new large hotels in the immediate vicinity as well as the residents in the area. The Roundtable’s members feel that it is in the best interest of residents countywide, for the County utility department to be the sole provider of water and sewer services.