The Ponte Vedra Architectural Review Committee (PVARC) last week recommended approval of the relevant and applicable parts of the PGA Tour’s application to modify its development plan and combine parcels of its existing land in Ponte Vedra Beach with the County Courthouse Annex parcel on Palm Valley Road for a new and consolidated headquarters.
As required by the Land Development Code, the PVARC limited the scope of its review to requested waivers to the requirements of the Palm Valley Overlay District. The board recommended approval of all waivers, subject to one revision regarding signage. In addition, the board recommended approval for the company to replace the existing lattice tower on the annex parcel with a monopole that will be relocated to the north end of the PGA Tour’s property,
The PVARC’s recommendation of approval on Aug. 9 represents the completion of the first of three hearings for the PGA Tour’s Major Modification request, which will go before the Planning and Zoning Agency (PZA) today, Aug. 17, and the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Sept. 19. A companion Development of Regional Impact (DRI) and other aspects of the PGA Tour’s applications that were not presented to the PVARC will also be reviewed by the PZA and BCC.
Bill Schilling of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., the PGA Tour’s engineering and project management partner, explained at the PVARC meeting at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library that the PGA Tour received approval from the county on a few of the requested waivers in 2014 and asked at the meeting that they be extended to the soon-to-be acquired annex parcel.
The 1.8-acre annex parcel is currently owned by St. Johns County, but county staff explained at the PVARC meeting that the PGA Tour is in the process of acquiring the property. As a result, the annex’s services will be relocated to another location, staff said, with that exact location and timing of relocation to be determined and outside of the jurisdiction of the PVARC.
Schilling explained that one of the waivers requested to be extended to the annex allows the company to build structures with a roof slope less than 5/12. The second waiver is regarding the maximum length of buildings and enables the PGA Tour to have buildings in excess of 120 feet. Schilling noted that the third waiver provides the tour with relief from a provision that requires 10-foot perimeter buffers along project property lines. This waiver was outside of the PVARC’s purview and will be discussed at the PZA and BCC hearings.
The PGA Tour requested a new waiver at the PVARC meeting regarding signage allowances at entrances to the company’s property. Palm Valley Overlay District regulations currently limit parcels of 5 acres or more in size to one ground sign that has a maximum Advertising Display Area (ADA) of 60 square feet. Previously, the PGA Tour received approval to build two 35-foot-tall decorative features (e.g. towers) at future entrances. This new waiver allows the tour to install one wall sign on each of these entry features that has an ADA of 100 square feet. The PVARC approved the waiver with one condition, requesting that the verbiage on the signage be specific to PGA Tour properties.
Schilling explained that the tour’s request before the PVARC also included the relocation of the existing cell tower on the annex property. The tower that currently stands there is a 250-foot tall lattice tower that has one of the lowest wind storm ratings in the county compared to other towers used for intergovernmental communication systems. Schilling explained that the new tower will be a 250-foot, galvanized finish monopole that will be upgraded to a higher windstorm rating capable of withstanding a Category 5 windstorm event. The proposed monopole will be located approximately 500 feet west of the Palm Valley Road right of way, directly south of the post office.
PGA Tour attorney Ellen Avery Smith of Rogers Towers, P.A. explained that the company is requesting these overall changes to its development plan to further elevate the experience of its properties for THE PLAYERS Championship. She also said the changes are part of the company’s due diligence process in evaluating the potential consolidation of staff offices in a central location.
In June, the PGA Tour issued a statement explaining that a consolidated headquarters facility is a priority for the company given the global nature of its business and the fact that tour employees currently occupy space in 17 different buildings throughout Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine.
The proposed consolidation of tour-owned properties into one Master Development Plan covers more than 500 acres of land, including parcels on TPC Boulevard, Palm Valley Road and A1A, as well as the annex parcel on Palm Valley Road.
Response from residents
Following presentations at the PVARC meeting, Palm Valley resident Mary Kohnke expressed her frustration about the relocation of the county annex.
“I think before you agree with the tour having the annex property, you should consult with the community and find out what is convenient for us, not the tour,” she said. “I’m not really interested in constantly genuflecting to the tour, especially since this is a community that uses that annex.”
PVARC Chairman Sean Mulhall reminded meeting attendees of the limits of their control.
“We have an agenda tonight that has very specific requests,” he said, “Those are the specific boundaries of this committee’s consideration. Unfortunately, what’s not going to be discussed is what’s going on with the annex. It’s not before the committee.”
Ponte Vedra resident Mike Shields agreed with Kohnke, additionally expressing his concerns about increased traffic because of additional development.
“I don’t know how we got to this point,” he said. “The tour gets what they want no matter what.”
Handy and Avery Smith reminded meeting attendees that the PGA Tour has vested development rights for its property that were approved in the 1970s. The tour currently has entitlements for 5.98 acres, or 260,488 square feet, of commercial development (including retail, office and hotel uses) and 684 new, unbuilt multi-family units under the original DRI. The PGA Tour’s applications request conversion of all or a portion of the residential entitlements to commercial use.
As made clear by county staff and the PVARC board members, all elements of the tour’s applications falling outside of the waivers and monopole, including the entitlements in the DRI and potential development on the property, were not within the purview of the PVARC.
“There are components to their request that are not really relevant to the ARC’s jurisdiction,” said Handy. “Those other issues that people have been addressing will be discussed at the PZA and BCC meetings.”
The PZA meeting will begin today at 1:30 p.m. at the St. Johns County Administrative Complex located at 500 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine. The PGA Tour’s applications are currently the sixth and seventh agenda items.