One civil action dismissed in King’s Grant dispute, but other complaint still going forward

One of two court actions filed against the county by the ownership of proposed development King’s Grant has been dismissed while the other remains in effect.


According to court documents, KG Development LLC filed a notice of dismissal with the St. Johns County Clerk of Court Wednesday as a petitioner for a writ of certiorari. It is in relation to the County Commission’s Sept. 15, 2015, decision to deny a large residential/commercial development off State Road 206 near Interstate 95.

A petition for a writ of certiorari was filed as an appeal to quash the Commission’s decision because it was a quasi-judicial decision.

The original petition argues that the county’s decision to deny rezoning to a Planned Unit Development on 667.5 acres of a 772.1-acre parcel effectively prohibits development of the property.

The Commission voted 3-2 to deny the rezoning to allow a development with up to 999 homes, 130,000 square feet of commercial retail and service space, a hospital and other features.

Referred to as “urban sprawl” by its detractors, the development was twice recommended for denial by the county Planning and Zoning Agency. However, commissioners had the final say.

Following that decision, KG Development decided to take the issue to circuit court by filing the petition of a writ of certiorari and a civil complaint asking for relief from the decision as well as monetary damages.

Because the complaint still stands, the status of the dispute doesn’t change much even with the dismissal of the petition, said County Attorney Patrick McCormack.

“The King’s Grant matter is not finished,” he said Thursday.

The recent filing doesn’t indicate any definite change in resolve for either side of the dispute.

“The county believes its decision on the King’s Grant matter was appropriate and defensible,” McCormack said. “If the litigation matter continues in court, the county will zealously defend its position.”

Local attorney Jane West represents co-defendant South Anastasia Communities Association. She said she wasn’t sure what impact the dismissal of the petition is for the ultimate outcome of the development.

She said any analysis would by only speculation on her part. She did say that several members of SACA have been deposed in the civil case that’s still open. So that’s a sign that KG Development is moving forward.

Emails to the main attorneys for KG Development seeking comment were not returned Thursday.

In its presentation to the Commission and the PZA, King’s Grant representatives argued that it was appropriate to allow a large, mixed-use development near the I-95-S.R. 206 junction because the county Future Land Use Map indicates that as one of the areas suited for development.

But the arguments against building such a massive development include lack of nearby fire stations, environmental impacts and the fact that there is no comparable residential community in the vicinity.

“I don’t think I’d ever be able to argue that this is not urban sprawl,” PZA member Brad Nelson said at an October 2014 hearing. “I don’t see that right now is the time for an urban development. I don’t see where the demand is going to come from.”

With two different commissioners now on the County Commission, KG Development could decide to halt the lawsuit and reapply — possibly with some alterations that could make it more palatable.

The law requires only that applicants wait a year before reapplying, and that period has already passed.

“If they wanted to come back, reapply for something, changing any parameters they thought were appropriate, of course they have the right,” McCormack said.