State declines to review SilverLeaf Comp Plan amendment under request for expedited review

Historic City News has learned that the Board of St Johns County Commissioners will have to “reconsider” a key part of the expansion of SilverLeaf development approved on December 21, 2021.  The approval came after a 4-1 split vote with Commissioner Paul Waldron dissenting.

SilverLeaf is already one of the largest developments in St Johns County.  However, the developer wants to expand by adding 2,394 acres, up to 5,600 additional dwelling units and another 250,000 square feet of office space. 

“The board’s approval of the Comprehensive Plan amendment does not stand,” according to Teresa Bishop, County planning Division Manager.  “The amendment will be scheduled for adoption at a later commission date, and the county is currently looking at April or May.”

The specific request was to amend the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map from Rural/Silviculture (R/S) and Agricultural Intensive (A-I) to Residential A, Residential C and Community Commercial (CC) for the land, which is south of the planned First Coast Expressway.  In addition to local Board approval, the Comprehensive Plan amendment requires a state review.

  • SilverLeaf is a master-planned community of The Hutson Companies, a family development firm run by Florida Senator Travis Hutson’s father, David Hutson.  According to the business website, Travis Hutson is responsible for leading “charitable and civic activities” for the companies.
  • County resident Al Abbatiello, chairman of the William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway Management Group, is opposed to the addition in part because of traffic concerns.  Abbatiello told Historic City News in an October 11th Letter to the Editor that he believes more people will show up this time to oppose the SilverLeaf expansion.

“We will be vocal again,” Abbatiello said. If the changes are approved, Silver-Leaf will be able to have a total of up to 9,800 single-family units; 4,500 multifamily units; 2,000 age-restricted units; 2 million square feet of retail; 900,000 square feet of office space; 330,000 square feet of industrial space; and 300,000 square feet of hospital space.

According to a letter from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the rezoning for expansion was “submitted incorrectly” and the Comprehensive Plan amendment must be submitted under a “State Coordinated Review Process“.  Further, the department informed the County that it wouldn’t review the amendment under the “Expedited State Review Process” which the county had used to submit the proposal.