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Columbia County Observer

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Fort White Town Council: South Columbia County Growth On Tap Tonight – Pt. I

Fort White, FL, Town Council
Columbia County Observer

Read more about Gwynn Farms:
Oct.17, 2023  Gwynn Farms Subdivision Packs Fort White Town Hall – Document Issues Table Preliminary Plan Approval
August 23, 2023  County Chairman Rocky Ford Resigns From Joint Fort White – Columbia County Utility Committee
August 19, 2023  Fort White Gwynn Farms Subdivision: Citizens Gather

July 3, 2023  Fort  White Gwynn Farms Major Subdivision: Twists, Turns, & More Questions Than Answers for the Town Council
June 29, 2023  Fort White Town Council: South Columbia County Growth On Tap Tonight

FORT WHITE, FL – Tonight at 5 pm, the Fort White Town Council is meeting to discuss the planning of a 109-parcel residential subdivision in the south end of Columbia County. The Town Council's decision will be setting the pattern of growth and development in the County's south end for a long time to come. Columbia County is testing the home rule power of the little town.

While small in population (618-2020 census), the Town of Fort White has a zip code (32038) encompassing a large part of the County's south end, and folks not within the town limits relate to Fort White.

The subdivision, known as Gwynn Farms, is being developed by Columbia County Commissioner Rocky Ford. The Developer's engineer is North Florida Professional Services (NFPS).

The legendary Dale Williams, the former thirty-three-year Columbia County Manager, is the business development manager for NFPS and its lobbyist. Mr. Williams, until February of 2022, was also the consultant for the Town of Fort White – an interesting relationship.

County Manager David Kraus and Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby
County Manager David Kraus (left), knowledgeable and well spoken, is often over powered by Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby (with hat). In May in Fort White, Mr. Kraus is trying to get the Council's attention.


Columbia County is pushing (some would say strong-arming) the Town Council to give up oversight of the Gwynn Farms residential subdivision development to Columbia County.

If the County gets its wish, developer Ford will save tens of thousands in engineering and inspection fees as Columbia County taxpayers will be footing the bill for inspections and quality control.

The recent developments in one of the greatest developmental boondoggles of all time in Columbia County, the Turkey Creek North Woodborough subdivision, demonstrate why Columbia County is ill-equipped to facilitate Fort White's subdivision.

In the Turkey Creek subdivision, the County, the Water Management District, and the Department of Health (currently involved in a septic systems cover-up) have collectively disrupted and ruined people's lives.

The County has not demonstrated that it knows what it is doing.

Fort White, FL, Council meeting attendance
South County residents, as well as Town residents, are watching the Gwynn Farms residential development.

Curbs, Gutters, and Sidewalks

The Town Code requires curbs, gutters, and sidewalks in the Gwynn Farms subdivision.

NFPS and the Developer initially tried to change the Towns land development regulations to eliminate the required curbs, gutters, and sidewalks so they could be replaced by swales for drainage.

That did not happen; instead, the Developer requested a variance to facilitate surface water management, i.e., where does the water go and how does it get there when it rains?

Curbs, gutters, and sidewalks facilitate a sense of community and keep the community from walking in the street.

Street Lighting

While optional for now, at least one subdivision in the County has requested and had installed street lights.

Water Management

Residents are worried about flooding and surface water management in and around the Gwynn Farms subdivision.

Surface water management is the domain of the Suwannee River Water Management District (WMD). While the WMD has some talented folks working for it, it has been unable to decide whether its job is water management, water permitting, or what the happy medium is.

The Town Council and residents must keep a sharp eye on the water management district.

Fort White Town Councilmen Travis King and Jason Florence
The Town Council's newest members, Travis King (left) and Jason Florence (right), may determine the direction of future grown in South Columbia County.


Development is coming to South Columbia County.

The Fort White Town Council may be setting the pattern for residential developments; whether it is up to the task is still in the discovery stage.

The Council is beginning to ask tough questions. Tonight, one may get an indication of which way the Council is leaning: Home Rule or Columbia County Run.

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