Baymeadows Community Council (BCC) was incorporated in 2004 to advocate for a better quality of life in the Baymeadows Golf Club neighborhood.
The need for a common solution became even more critical when, in August 2004, the national homebuilder, D.R. Horton, announced that it intended to purchase the golf course and redevelop the fairways with 1,400 new homes. It would additionally rezone and sell several of the fairways as sites for 210,000 square feet of commercial buildings. Read the Florida Times-Union article here.
BCC organized our neighborhood residents and business owners to attend a series of town hall meetings in an effort convince our City Council Members to reject the proposed redevelopment. We were disappointed with their tepid response and prepared to fight D.R. Horton through the City's Concurrency and Fair Share application process in early 2005.
Even though we were represented by counsel and a professional traffic engineer, we were unsuccessful in contesting D.R. Horton's application for Fair Share approval by the City Council and petitioned Mayor John Peyton to veto the City Council's action. After consideration of BCC's concerns and his own view of traffic congestion, Mayor Peyton vetoed the Fair Share approval. Read the Florida Times-Union article here.
In February 2005, in spite of the veto, D.R. Horton closed on the purchase of the golf course, closed the golf course operation, and filed suit against the Mayor and the City of Jacksonville. Read the Florida Times-Union article here.
BCC was granted "friend of the court" status and filed several amicus briefs in support of the Mayor and City of Jacksonville. The judge ruled in favor of the Mayor and upheld the veto based primarily on arguments offered by BCC. Read the Florida Times-Union article here.
In anticipation of an appeal and with the hope that such an appeal would not reverse the lower court's decision, BCC began to work within the system in order to strengthen our relationship with the city and to lay the groundwork for future initiatives.
D.R. Horton appealed the ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. BCC was again granted "friend of the court" status, and filed an amicus brief in favor of the lower court's ruling. Ultimately, the lower court's ruling was upheld, as was Mayor Peyton's veto. D.R. Horton would have to reapply.
During the Fair Share hearings, BCC had pointed out many flaws in the way the City implemented its Concurrency Management System and Fair Share procedures. As a result, the City Council appointed a Growth Management Committee to hold public hearings and make recommendations for revisions. BCC attended every meeting and gave testimony as needed. The resulting revisions required new ordinances to govern the process of reviewing future applications.
The Mayor appointed a 30-member task force in early 2006 to make recommendations on future growth management. The Mayor's Growth Management Task Force, in the final report of its Land Use Committee, called for redevelopment of older neighborhoods to reflect a "sense of place". This was an important new concept for Jacksonville.
From 2006-2009, BCC members took leadership roles in the Mayor's Citizen's Planning Advisory Committee, its Growth Management Subcommittee and The City's Southeast Vision Plan Steering Committee.
The Baymeadows Road Area Transportation Study, requested by BCC in 2004 and begun in 2005, was completed in 2009. It recommended several improvements that would prove important to the master planning of our neighborhood, including the realignment of Baymeadows Circle West with Western Way. See the Salisbury Road plan here.
By 2009, BCC's member associations decided we could no longer tolerate the state of decline being suffered by our community and resolved to take an active role in determining its future. Much had been accomplished since 2006 in establishing a close working relationship with the City's political leadership and staff we felt that the new relationship could lead to a joint initiative to master plan and revitalize the neighborhood.
The possibilities became more interesting when it was found that D.R. Horton was willing to sell all or part of its golf course properties. Working with a neighborhood business owner and a local golf professional, we arrived at a concept that would return more than half of the golf course to its original use and keep a large portion of our community as green space. Additionally, we could update and upgrade our infrastructure spread the cost fairly through the use of a Dependent Special Taxing District.
With the changes in Florida's growth management laws (Senate Bill 360) heavily favoring developers' ability to develop without regard for its impact on neighborhoods, the BCC lost the ability to effectively control the situation based on concurrency. Read the Florida Times-Union article here.
Much of 2010 was spent holding town hall meetings to explain our plan to our residents, to answer their questions and to gain their input. This was very helpful in refining the plan and gaining its broad acceptance.
BCC offered to purchase ten of the eighteen fairways from D.R. Horton at a fair market price but was rejected. Our only option seemed to be to raise our standing even further with the City in order to work more effectively within the system. This was done by working closely with the Mayor, our City Council Members and City staff and taking leadership roles in planning committees and support activities. BCC began to be seen as a serious and pragmatic advocate for the City's neighborhoods. Our master plan, including the special taxing district, was being seen as a model for the redevelopment of older neighborhoods in Jacksonville.
Our planning concepts were further expanded in 2010 in the executive summary of the Southeast Vision Plan Steering Committee to provide incentives and to prioritize the redevelopment and revitalization of older neighborhoods and to provide for features that were omitted by the original developers, such as small parks and/or community centers. That summary ended by stating that "The City should be the advocate and tool for positive change within existing neighborhoods through incentives and by supporting the updating and upgrading of older and declining neighborhoods."
In 2011, Baymeadows Community Council and the residents of this neighborhood, in partnership with the Jacksonville Planning and Development Department, authored the Baymeadows Community Vision Plan. This vision plan is the first phase of an initiative that will result in a redevelopment and revitalization master plan to be financed through the creation of a Dependent Special Taxing District. The city passed Ordinance 2012-192-E to make the vision plan the guiding document for all development in our neighborhood.
During that year, the City Council adopted the Mobility Fee legislation that replaced Concurrency. With that change in its growth management process, Jacksonville gave developers the ability to develop within and around older neighborhoods, such as ours, without regard for its impact on the infrastructure of those neighborhoods. The neglected impact is even worse on neighborhoods, such as ours, with privately owned streets. Read the Florida Times/Union article here.
With D.R. Horton having rejected our offer to purchase portions of its property and the City having abandoned Concurrency, our remaining option was to negotiate a Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning for the golf course fairways that restricted the density of the residential development being proposed and the uses to be allowed for the commercial properties. Much of the years 2012 and 2013 were spent in negotiations with D.R. Horton on restricting commercial uses and on site plans that reduced residential densities and added green belt buffers and height restrictions. Additionally, approximately twenty acres were reserved for neighborhood parks and easements were granted for walking trails.
The golf course fairways were rezoned PUD (Planned Unit Development) late in 2014, based on densities and use restrictions negotiated by BCC with D.R. Horton. The one element of the rezoning that D.R. Horton refused to include in the PUD was the redevelopment of the internal street system and the neighborhood entrances at Baymeadows Road and Southbrook Drive. BCC hired a professional transportation engineering firm to prepare a traffic report for the Planning & Development Department in order to point out the street and intersection improvements that would be needed to adequately address the impact of the future developments. We insisted that the City address these concerns within the PUD rezoning but, in the end, very little was done. View a detailed site plan of the approved PUD here. See the PUD with an overlay of the communities here.
BCC began working closely with the Development Services Division of the City's Planning & Development Department, the Florida Department of Transportation and our District City Council Members to resolve our concerns on the needs of the neighborhood for street and intersection improvements, including our proposal to realign Baymeadows Circle West with Western Way at its signalized intersection with Baymeadows Road. Recommendations of necessary street and intersection improvements to be made can be found here.
From 2015-2017, there was much discussion between the City, D.R. Horton, Bank of America, the developers of Parcel #1 and BCC about a proposal for D.R. Horton to move the Bank of America at their expense. This would allow for the realignment of Baymeadows Circle West with Western Way at its signalized intersection with Baymeadows Road. Though many offers were made to the Bank and it seemed as if things were moving forward with the commercial redevelopment, a definitive agreement was never reached. If the realignment project did not get approved, Danny Becton had outlined "minimum" improvements that DR Horton should be responsible for. The Baymeadows Comprehensive Community Redevelopment Plan was also published during this time.
As of 2018, many community revitalization projects have begun in and around the golf course. To learn about current happenings in the area, please see the Upcoming Projects page.
The BCC continues to meet to address ongoing issues concerning the entire neighborhood.