Saturday, October 05, 2019

Crew clears land, cuts trees in St. Johns County without approval. (SAR)

The solutions to global climate change include planting billions of trees.

 St. Johns County has a pitiful history of killing millions of tress under the thumb of the corrupt Republican political machine long headed by Sheriff NEIL PERRY, his wife, SYD PERRY, and Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994. St. Augustine and St, Augustine Beach have more sophisticated and sensitive regulations. Out in St. Johns County, it's like the wild Wild West. Wonder why?  As I wrote in my March 26, 2016 St. Augustine Record column:

Speak out. Attend government meetings. Ask questions. Demand answers. Request documents. Expect democracy. Support and encourage honest people to become our next Sheriff, State’s Attorney, City and County Commissioners and state legislators. Say “enough” to corruption. Help foil the devious developer-driven demolition derby of our town and county. Help drive the money-changers out of the temple of our democratic republic.

It’s up to everyone to say “enough.” And let’s finally preserve and protect this glorious, magical, beautiful, special place forever — for your grandchildren and their grandchildren. Let’s enact the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore (, first proposed in 1939 by Mayor Walter Fraser and Senator Claude Pepper, et al.

Foreign-funded developers don't disclose their owners, hire corrupt developers who don't even need a license, hire lawyers without principles, and rented corrupt County Commissioners, like former Commissioners KAREN STERN, BRUCE MAGUIRE, MARC JACALONE, JAMES EDWARD BRYANT and CYNDI STEVENSON, all chosen by the Issues Group, run for developers by SYD PERRY,

Our County Attorney, PATRICK FRANCIS McCORMACK, is a doormat and a political prostitute who has sandbagged lobbying registration and tree preservation ordinances. There's a special place in Hades for unjust stewards who offer their "services," such as they are, to remain in power, county to three like so many corrupt local government lawyers in Florida, saying whatever politicians want them to say.  Unscholarly, unprincipled and uncouth -- McCORMACK needs to go.

Excellent article in St. Augustine Record about the state of tree-killing here in St. Johns County, a/k/a "God's country":

Crew clears land, cuts trees in St. Johns County without approval
Land cleared without approval off Gun Club Road is shown. [CONTRIBUTED]

By Sheldon Gardner
Posted Oct 4, 2019 at 5:34 PM
Updated Oct 5, 2019 at 9:32 AM
St. Augustine Record

Bruce Kendeigh said he enjoys the quiet life he and his wife have off U.S. 1 north, an area he says is filled with history, wildlife and nature.

When he saw a crew clearing land on 370 Gun Club Road a couple of weeks ago, he decided to contact the county.

The county received notice of the clearing on Sept. 20, according to an email to The Record from county spokeswoman Sarah Butler. The clearing crew told the county that they were clearing for survey lines only, which is allowed.

But after a complaint came in the following Monday, the county found something different.

“An inspection by Environmental Division staff revealed extensive clearing at the site not limited to survey lines,” according to Butler.

The county issued a stop-work order.

St. Johns County requires approval of subdivision construction plans before construction begins. Those plans hadn’t been submitted, according to the county.

Work has stopped at the site since the county issued the order, according to Butler. It appears that several acres of land, including trees, were cleared. But the county is reviewing to see exactly how much land was cleared and what types of trees, and the county has asked the property owner to provide a survey of the area cleared.

The cleared areas include “Significant Natural Communities Habitat and the upland buffer to wetlands,” according to Butler.

The property owner, Sunbelt Holdings Florida I, has since applied for a demolition permit — which would include dilapidated structures on the site — and has submitted plans to build a subdivision, according to Butler. The county will look at impacts to protected trees, animals and other natural resources, Butler said.

There are penalties for clearing land without county approval.

“For this type of action the penalty is to double the usual application fee,” according to Butler. “The fee charged for this application is now $7,232.00. Also, upon completion of analysis and determining amount of replanting, a Tree Bank Fund payment may also be required.”

Sunbelt Holdings representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

So far this year, the county has recorded 29 complaints of land being cleared without a permit, but records weren’t available as of Friday to clarify how many of those were legitimate complaints.

Kendeigh and others say the county should do more to prevent land clearing and tree cutting.

“Nobody ever does anything in St. Johns County as far as slapping the developer’s wrist hard financially,” he said.

When any development is proposed, the county requires a tree survey, said Ryan Mauch, environmental supervisor for the county. The survey helps determine how many trees need to be replanted.

Clear cutting is allowed in St. Johns County, but people first have to get a tree survey to see if any new tree plantings will be required and to make sure there aren’t trees on site that receive special protection, Mauch said.

The county’s Land Development Code has many other provisions related to trees, including exemptions and penalties.

St. Johns County resident Virginia Quelch wants the county to expand its protections for trees. She is co-founder of the group Citizens for a New Tree Ordinance.

Quelch said the group’s effort launched in 2015. Since then, “massive amounts (of trees) have been cut down,” including where the new Isla Antigua apartments stand off State Road 312, she said.

“It’s just been unending,” she said.

Article IV of St. Johns County’s Land Development Code by Sheldon Gardner on Scribd

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