Ponte Vedra Corporation switches defense team amid dispute over Outpost property

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Three weeks after a judge denied Ponte Vedra Corporation (PVC)’s motion for a Partial Summary Judgement in its litigation with St. Johns County over the use of the Outpost property, PVC filed a Stipulation for Substitution of Plaintiff’s Counsel, according to court records obtained by the Recorder. 

PVC, a subsidiary of GATE Petroleum, said the switch from the previous attorney, Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, to Rogers Towers, was a matter of incorporating an attorney that GATE already relied on. 

“The Rogers Towers law firm represents GATE Petroleum and its subsidiaries on a variety of matters,” said Misty Skipper, vice president of marketing, communications and government affairs for GATE, to the Recorder. “With the judge’s ruling providing direction on how to move forward with the county, we made the decision that this was an appropriate time to consolidate this work within the portfolio of matters that the Rogers Towers attorneys already work with our company on.”

Judge Michael Traynor of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court made the aforementioned ruling Dec. 11, which essentially means the county cannot modify the Outpost’s designation of “conservation” without there being a public hearing first.

PVC is seeking to build a 66-home residential community called Vista Tranquila on the 99-acre conservation property known as the Outpost, which is located at the end of Neck Road and adjacent to the GTM Reserve. Many local residents believe the development of the Outpost could cause potential harm to the GTM Research Reserve that surrounds it. 

Nicole Crosby, the co-founder of nonprofit environmental advocacy group Save Guana Now, feels the legal switch signifies more than a consolidation. Crosby told the Recorder the move doesn’t reflect well on PVC’s original statement that the company was happy with Traynor’s litigation order.   

“PVC is presenting it as a consolidation,” Crosby said. “The timing says it all. They were fired after the judge's ruling. … That's how ‘pleased’ they were with (it).”

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