Sunday, September 08, 2019

Update on Buc-ee's From Lance Williams: Will St. Johns County Exercise Eminent Domain Powers?

It's time that our local elected officials stand up for the people and not the powerful.

I think that St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners need to vote on September 12, 2019 to consider authorizing the County Attorney to consider an eminent domain lawsuit to acquire then land where greedy Texas billionaires would build a hideous, dangerous, ugly108-pump gasoline station. (Meeting date changed due to hurricane).  (corrected)

Here's an e-mail from Mr. Lance Williams, one of the indefatigable leaders of the opposition to the proposed Buc-ee's at World Golf Village:

Dear Neighbors, 

First of all, I hope everyone made it through Dorian ok and that you and
your families are safe and sound.  I had planned on sending out this email
earlier but I knew that we all needed to concentrate on making our storm

I recently received a number of emails from World Golf Village residents who
are concerned about the proposed Buc-ee's at the intersection of I 95 and
International Golf Parkway and who asked to be included on my distribution
list.  To those who are new to the list, I appreciate your concern and
support.  To those with whom I have corresponded in the past, I should
explain why I haven't sent out any Buc-ee's updates in a while.  The reasons
are several fold.  
First of all, the Commissioners, the County Attorney, and the Zoning Board
have all stated that there is nothing they can do or will do and that
Buc-ee's has every right to build a gas station on this site so long as what
they build is compliant with the PUD and DRI (the documents that govern
construction projects for the World Commerce Center).  The County Planning
Department stated "The application will not require a review process by the
Planning and Zoning Agency or the Board of County Commissioners unless the
applicant requests variances not approved by current zoning."  To date,
Buc-ee's has not asked for such accommodations but the project is far from
over. They have a history of asking for these at their other sites.  
The County has further stated that if they (the County) opposed the Buc-ee's
construction that the County would be sued and would lose the case. 
Despite the assertations of the county officials that Buc-ee's complies with
the PUD, consider the following excerpt from the PUD "Vision Statement"
which supposedly describes how this area is to be developed: 
*    A strong sense of environmental stewardship
*    Safeguards neighborhoods from incompatible development
*    Where parks, open space, pedestrian walkways and bikeways link the
entire community
*    Where industrial, residential and commercial uses are carefully
buffered from each other
*    Improving the overall quality of life

I hardly think that any rational person could see Buc-ee's as being
compliant with this "Vision Statement."  
I and many others have addressed the Commissioners and Zoning Board at every
one of their meetings for the better part of a year with carefully prepared
and detailed presentations pointing out the negative impact on our
community, and the traffic and safety hazards to ourselves, our families,
and our children.  
But rather than showing concern, we were met with the "What do you want us
to do about It ?" reaction.  Meaning, since no variances have been
requested, they have nothing on which to vote.  Doing nothing is not
acceptable.  I was even met with comments like "It's better to have one big
gas station rather than 5 or 6 smaller ones." and "While we respect the
right of residents to express their opinion, we think that the media has
covered this matter well."  Meaning: yeah, yeah, we've heard all this before
and don't need to hear it again; we can get what we need from television and
don't need the opinions of residents.  
Modifications To I 95 and International Golf Parkway
Faced with these reactions and the fact that until now little further action
had been undertaken by Buc-ee's, I felt it was not productive to further
address our county officials.  However, this has changed now that the public
has been informed of the massive changes that will need to be made to
International Golf Parkway and the entrance and exit ramps to I 95 all to
accommodate Buc-ee's - a facility residents neither need nor want.  See the
attached supplied by realtor Ron Savarese.  Both are the same with one in
Word and the other in PDF format.  
Like you and many others, it seems like the tail is wagging the dog when an
enormous accommodation is being made for such an unwanted eye sore that will
create significant traffic and safety hazards only to serve the passers by
on I 95 and not the residents of our community. 
So, I've come to the conclusion that only a massive protest from residents
will cause our government to take notice. 
What can you do ? 
1.    Feel free to pass this email along to other concerned residents.
Talk to your neighbors and ask them to email me requesting to be on our
email distribution. 
2.    Hundreds of eyes are better than just two - I monitor the County
Government Website and have Google alerts set to pick up news on Buc-ee's
which I get daily.  That said, having us all stay vigilant is important.
Please let me know if you hear anything that we all should know and act
3.    Write Arch Aplin, Don Wasek, (Buc-ee's Co-Owners), and Jeff Nadalo
(Buc-ee's General Counsel) - Address: Buc-ee's - 327 FM 2004 Lake Jackson,
Texas 77566
4.    Write your local government officials: 
*    St. John's County Commissioners -;
*    Zoning Board -
> ;
> ;
> ;
> ;> ;
*    St. John's County Attorney -
*    See this attachment 
*    Ann B. Shortelle, Ph.D. - Executive Director - St. John's River
Water Management -
> ;
*    Mike Roberson, Interim Growth Management Director at <>  or 904-209-0593 
        Write your state and Federal officials:
*    Gov. DeSantis: (you need
to send your message through the website) 
*    John Rutherford - Congressman - Fourth Congressional District -
*    FDOT: Kevin J. Thibault, P.E., Secretary of the Florida Department
>  Website:
*    Don't accept the "brush off" explanation that "It's a local issue."
An interstate highway is a collaboration between the Federal and state
governments.  See the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.  
        Suggested Talking points:
*    Congestion - Public Safety - The I 95 / International Golf Parkway
intersection, entrances, and exits are already at 97% capacity.  It's one of
the four most dangerous in St. John's County with crashes resulting if
serious injuries, death, and some sadly involving school buses and our
children.  Adding thousands of additional cars per day entering and exiting
the interstate will only cause additional hazards.  
*    Eyesore not in keeping with the WGV environment - The mere presence
of a 104 pump gas station along with bill boards lining I 95 with disgusting
slogans will have a negative impact on the community. 
*    Property Values - As a result of more congestion and safety
concerns, a facility such as Buc-ee's could significantly harm property
*    Harm to local businesses - Buc-ee's is likely to draw business from
local restaurants, retailers, and small businesses in general.  
*    Does not benefits our community - Other Buc-ee's facilities get 95%
of their business from the interstate and not from the surrounding
community.  This facility is meant to service passers-by and not the
residents.  There are already 24 gas stations within a 6.9 mile radius of
World Golf Village.  
*    Tax Revenues are insignificant - The tax revenues that Buc-ee's
could generate as a ratio to the County budget amounts to a tiny fraction so
it is by no means an economic boom. 
*    Jobs We Don't Need - Buc-ee's could generate up to 200 new jobs for
the County. But, consider this.  These are only "McDonald level jobs."  They
pay well below the median family income for the county. Moreover, St. Johns
County has an unemployment rate of under 3.0 % which is the lowest in the
state. Adding Buc-ee's type jobs is of no benefit to tax paying residents. 
5.    Sign the petition  
        The following petition is posted on  Here's the
link .  Here's the text of the petition.  
        Buc-ee's (a Texas based company) is invading World Golf
Village by proposing to build a 104 pump gas station with a 53,254 square
foot convenience store (bigger than Publix) - or as Buc-ee's calls it "a
travel center."  The proposed site at the intersection of International Golf
Parkway and I 95 is surrounded by residential communities of young families
with children as well as retirees.  Such a facility is intended to serve
those traveling on I 95 through sales of gas, beer, cigarettes, and trinkets
- not to serve the needs of the community.  The impact of thousands of
additional cars, trucks, and RV's per day would cause major traffic and
safety problems on International Golf Parkway which is already at 97%
capacity and at an intersection already recognized as one of the four most
dangerous in the county.  To date, our County Commissioners, County
Attorney, and Zoning Board have refused to take any action to oppose
Buc-ee's.  This is why we need your support to convince our county officials
that this is not the place to put such a facility and to take action now.
Say NO to Buc'ees by signing this petition.  
6.    Commissioners and Zoning Meetings 
        While it is important that residents be heard at
Commissioners and Zoning Board Meetings, we need to choose our time and
message.  As I pointed out above, when I and others presented our thoughts
at these meetings, it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I monitor the agendas to
see if any Buc-ee's related agenda items are scheduled for discussion or
vote and encourage each of you to do the same.  Here is the link to the St.
Johns County Board of Commissioners Agendas:
appears on any agenda, then it will be time to show up in numbers.  In the
meantime, I feel a writing campaign is our best option.  
        Commissioners and Zoning meetings are open to the public and
each starts with a "public comment" session.  Any resident may sign in and
speak for three minutes.  
        The Commissioners meet every first and third Tuesday of the
month at 9:00am at the St. Johns County Auditorium located at 500 San
Sebastian View, St. Augustine, FL. This meeting is open to the public and
there is a public comment session wherein concerns can be brought before the
        The Zoning Board meets every first and third Thursday of the
month at 1:30pm at the St. Johns County Auditorium located at 500 San
Sebastian View, St. Augustine, FL.  Similar to the Commissioners Meeting,
this meeting is open to the public and there is a public comment session
wherein concerns can be brought before the Zoning Board.  
7.    Donate Your Expertise 
        Although I have done a lot of research into Buc-ee's and
government regulations, I am not an expert in these matters.  That's why I'm
reaching out to you for help.  We need people with the following expertise
and are willing to donate their time.  
*    Legal and engineering especially in building construction, highway /
road construction, land usage 
*    Environmental / Conservationist
*    Those with political connections 
*    Website - If we get a lot of support at some point we'll need a
website as an important tool to get our message out and rally support 
*    Anyone with public relations or media experience 
        Email me if you wish to volunteer.  
I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to contact me with any
questions and thank you for your support.   

Lance Williams
273 Pinehurst Pointe Drive
St. Augustine, Florida

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