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Commission splits on Site Plan Approval for Pine Ridge RV Park

By John Ayers
The Gilchrist County Commission listened to residents, living in the area surrounding the proposed Pine Ridge RV Park, tell the board that this 120 unit RV Park development is not compatible with the Agriculture 2 and Ag 5 zoning areas that will surround the proposed park on SR 47 in Northeast Gilchrist County. Several of the residents pointed out that this commercial operation, located in this Springs recharge area, will pollute their drinking water and add additional problems they have in hearing campers loud music and traffic that currently plagues this area from Ginnie Springs Park which is located in this area. The Commission, by a vote of 3-1, approved SP 2021-01, the site plan for Pine Ridge RV Park. The Commission chairperson filed a conflict identifying that a family member is involved in a group that is opposing this development.
David M. Lang, Jr., Gilchrist County Building and Zoning Director, presented the Site Plan 2021-01 application to the Commission. He explained that the application is from Gary Dounson of Gary Dounson & Associates, Inc. representing Dae Jung Kim, LLC of Alachua. The property is a 120-acre site at 5700 block of NE SR 47, High Springs in Gilchrist County. Mr. Lang presented the application and went through the details identifying that the site plan has been amended to include two waste water treatment plants that will provide sufficient water for the swimming pool, club house, general store, office, reception building, RV sites, 3 bath houses, and a caretaker’s residence on the property. The Pine Ridge RV Park has a Gopher Tortoise Conservation Plan, including a set-aside area, and a Natural Resources inventory and environmental assessment, including a wetland delineation area that will remain separate from the proposed RV Park. The Building and Zoning Director read through the staff review identifying 8 recommendations that should be considered when reviewing this application. Mr. Lang explained that for the reasons stated and subject to the conditions set forth herein, the preliminary site and development plan should be approved as being consistent with the Gilchrist County Comprehensive Plan, Land Development Code, and other applicable regulations.
Carl Spain, the developer of the Pine Ridge RV Park, had a member of his staff present information to the Commission about the 120-site development. Mr. Spain told the Commission that the site plan has been amended for two wastewater treatment plants.
Commissioner Darrell Smith asked the developer “how far along the applicant was with the permits that will be secured to receive approval in order to allow construction of the RV Park?”
Mr. Spain explained, as he showed the Commission a view from the online application, the 10 different permits that have been applied for by the developer for the Pine Ridge RV Park. The developer pointed out that the public and Gilchrist County will be able to monitor the wastewater treatment plants online when the facilities are put into operation.
The developer reported to the Commission, that they had received a letter from residents surrounding the property, which identified numerous concerns that the property owners had. Mr. Spain added that many of the neighboring residents have agreed to the changes and are not in opposition to the RV Park.
The Commission Chairperson opened the meeting to give the public an opportunity to tell the Commission of their concerns involving the proposed park.
Rachel Smith, a resident living across the street from the park, reported that this construction would be noisy and extremely dusty during the 6 to 12 months of construction at this location. She pointed out that the piping of the waste water treatment plants will be 8-feet deep on the property which could be a contamination problem into the aquifer of this spring recharge area.
Penny Anderson, a resident of the area, asked if the proposed site had been sold, and when the closing was held, by the new owner. She also reported to the Commission that Columbia County had recently denied a 15-unit RV Park in neighboring Columbia County because the proposed development would be located in a spring water recharge area.
Mr. Spain told the Commission that the closing of the property to the new owner was held December 15, 2020.
Eddy Scott addressed the Commission to point out that he and his family feels better about the proposed park with the changes that have been proposed. Mr. Scott explained they still have concerns about the security of the facility, they don’t want patrons of the park trespassing on neighbors’ property and they would like to see a maximum of 6 persons per RV unit staying in the park.
Mr. Spain explained that there will be a security officer on the park premises at all times. He added that he would like to have the Commission allow up to 8 patrons to an adjoining park unit if the adjacent unit is of their family.
Bo Davidson, a resident of the neighborhood, told the board that he is an attorney representing his family and he would like to be granted additional time to present his objections why the RV Park being considered is not compatible with this surrounding area. He gave the Commission numerous objections to the park’s site plan being approved.
The Building and Zoning Director explained that this application will have to follow the letter of the guidelines, or the construction of the RV Site will be stopped.
The developer told the Commission in his closing remarks, “I do feel that we have produced and presented a compatible, harmonics site plan for Gilchrist County,” Spain explained.
Commissioner Bill Martin gave a motion to approve SP 2021-01 to include the recommendations that have been identified and include the staff recommendations submitted in the staff report. Commissioner Kenrick Thomas gave a second to the motion before the chairperson called for a roll call vote: Commissioners Bill Martin, Kenrick Thomas and Darrell Smith voted yes, while Commissioner Marion Poitevint voted no on the motion. The SP 2021-01 was approved by a 3-1 vote.