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Fort White Gwynn Farms Major Subdivision: Twists, Turns, & More Questions Than Answers for the Town Council – Pt. II

A frustrated Tonya Yates addresses the Fort White Town Council about the Gwynn Farms Subdivision
Columbia County Observer Photo

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 – The planning of a new 109-unit subdivision in the Town of Fort White continued on June 29 during a Town workshop held for that purpose. Folks came from all over to listen in and testify, packing the Fort White Town Hall like sardines.

The Town prepared a list of issues. Mayor Ronnie Frazier and the Council listened. Mayor Frazier gave anyone who wished to be heard the opportunity to speak. Except for some folks in the audience who would not stop talking among themselves, the workshop went smoothly, although it was not a good night for the developer.

Mayor Frazier opened the meeting, "We have a list of discrepancies here. At this time, what we are going to ask is whoever is actually representing the developer, or if the developer wants to speak, please take the podium. We will go down the list of the items.”

Greg Bailey, president of North Florida Professional Services, introduced himself at the podium.

North Florida Professional Services (NFPS) are the engineers for the Fort White subdivision project known as Gwynn Farms.

Various documents show the subdivision ownership to be Lisa's Land, LLC; Lisa Ford, or Rocky Ford. The Town complained about this discrepancy, which was supposed to be fixed.

Rocky Ford, a Columbia County commissioner and commission chairman, appears at meetings representing the Gwynn Farms subdivision. Lisa Ford is Mrs. Ford.

Mr. Bailey began going down the agenda list the Fort White Town Clerk Connie Brecheen prepared.

The complete Gwynn Farms subdivision issues agenda with supporting material is here. The concerns of the Town are: 1. Variance for curb, gutter, sidewalk; 2. Street lights; 3; Traffic Study; 4. Paisley Court; 5. Operation and Maintenance; 6. Deed Restrictions; 7. School Concurrency; 8. Miscellaneous.

Folks jammed Ft. White Town Hall to attend the Gwynn Farms subdivision workshop.
Folks jammed Ft. White Town Hall to attend the Gwynn Farms subdivision workshop.

Curbs, Gutters, and Sidewalks

The advantages of curbs are well known: a cleaner look, improved lot cleaning, curb appeal, enhanced navigation, and the reduction of drainage swales, which can become unsightly, retain water, breed mosquitoes, and require maintenance.

The downside of curbs and gutters is singular: on the initial build-out, it is more expensive.

Sidewalks keep folks out of the street, are safer for children, and aid people with disabilities by keeping them out of traffic. Sidewalks provide a sense of community.

Through grants, the Town of Fort White has invested in sidewalks on its main roads enabling people to walk to shop and children to walk to school.

According to the Town (see pg. 1 of the packet), the variance to eliminate curbs, gutters, and sidewalks was granted by the Town Board of Adjustment in error.

The Town claimed that Dalton Kurtz PE, NFPS project manager for Gwynn Farms, said that the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) had approved swales for drainage "in lieu of curb and gutter."

Greg Bailey addressed the issues.

Mr. Bailey said other subdivisions in other communities use swales. He said the variance was approved. He said that Mr. Kurtz said the SRWMD would approve swales.

Mr. Bailey said that in half-acre lots, swales are "typically used in this region."

Mr. Bailey argued that swales are ecologically beneficial and are favored over curbs and gutters.

The Council discussed the issue and reserved decision.


It is proven and commonsense that streetlights make for safer communities. The Town’s land development regulations require streetlights if the Council “determines the public safety justifies installation… If streetlights are required, they shall be installed by the subdivider and constructed in accordance with the standards of the Fort White Town Council."

Mr. Bailey agreed that implementation of streetlights in the subdivision is up to the Town. He said in some communities, streetlights are provided after the community is petitioned after the build-out. Fort White's code allows the Council to build a safer community from the beginning. This costs the developer money.

Councilmen Travis King and Jason Florence review the subdivision site plan with Mayor Ronnie Frazier.
Councilmen Travis King and Jason Florence review the subdivision site plan with Mayor Ronnie Frazier. It is believed that these three will be the deciders as the project moves forward.

Sewer Lines

While not on the evening's agenda, Councilman Land brought up the running of sewer lines in the development.

Wastewater management (sewers) is planned for Fort White and the surrounding areas, especially Three Rivers which is on three rivers and is polluting the water. The Town, Columbia County, the Water Management District, the Health Department, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) favor wastewater treatment in this part of the County.

NFPS project engineer Dalton Krutz said the lines would not be run because they “don't exist right now."

Councilman Land questioned the digging up of the streets once the development was built to run sewer hookups to the houses even though sewer is planned.

Mr. Kurtz said, “It doesn't make sense to put on these plans something that isn’t coming into the subdivision.”

While it is true that sewer is not coming into the subdivision right now, it is in everyone's plans.

Traffic Study

The developer’s traffic study was a big bone of contention for the Town Council, NFPS, Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby, and the public.

Town Attorney Lindsey Lander asked Gregg Bailey: Is it your professional opinion that the suggestions you're making and the positions you're taking on behalf of Gwynn Farms are in the best interests of the town of Fort White?

NFPS said the traffic study was fine even though the study shows that it was not performed when public school was in session.

The Town's position is that the study was performed after the school had been dismissed for the summer; the traffic study was not conducted midweek during the busiest traffic times; mechanical counters were not used; and one access road the developer used in its study may not be valid.

Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby disagreed with the Town's complaints telling the Council that they sent the traffic study to the County's traffic consultant, and its consultant found nothing wrong.

The Town claimed, "FDOT was consulted regarding the traffic study, and Town staff was informed that the traffic study was not an acceptable study citing its list of complaints.

After the meeting, Mr. Kirby told your reporter that he “checked around FDOT” and could not find anyone who would verify the Town’s complaints.

The Town is looking to obtain a “thorough traffic impact study which would be performed by a firm of the town's choosing at the developer's expense."

Paisley Court: Problematic Subdivision Outlet Road

Paisley Court fronts US 27. The developer’s master plan calls for an extension of Paisley into the subdivision allowing Paisley to be used as an outlet onto US 27.

Paisley Court does not meet current FDOT Road standards for an outlet Road, and it is unclear if it could be widened to meet state specifications.

Suwannee River Water Management District

Following on the heels of the continuing debacle at the North Columbia County Turkey Creek North Woodborough subdivision, the water management district has again discovered problems with elevations in the stormwater plans and other issues, this time in the Gwynn Farms proposed subdivision.

The similarities between the two subdivisions, Gwynn Farms in Fort White and North Woodborough, cannot be overlooked. Both the Town and the County have the same engineering firm, NFPS, being the engineering consultant for the municipality (County and Town) and the engineering firm for the developers.

NFPS Gregg Bailey in Fort White
NFPS Gregg Bailey. He was not having a good time in Fort White.

Questioning this relationship, Town Attorney Lindsey Lander asked NFPS president Greg Bailey, “You’re our engineer too, right?”

Mr. Bailey responded, “We do work for the taxpayers."

Mr. Lander responded, “(laughing) I didn’t realize – What hat are we wearing?"

Mr. Lander followed up, "Is it your professional opinion that the suggestions you're making and the positions you're taking on behalf of Gwynn Farms are in the best interests of the town of Fort White?"

Mr. Bailey responded, "It's my position that we've complied with the regulations as published by the Town of Fort White through the LDRs [land development regulations]."


The Town should be discussing the Gwynn Farms subdivision at its next meeting.

No one was smiling when they left the meeting two and a half hours after it began.

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