Jacksonville, FL (November 17, 2021) – After 18+ years of advocating on-behalf of the Old Baymeadows Golf Course communities and through thousands of hours in community discussions, planning, and debate, Council Member Becton today, introduced legislation to establish the Baymeadows Community Improvement District. Introduced as Ordinance 2021-838, establishing a Dependent Special District per Florida Statues 189.02, the district provides the Baymeadows communities a tool to manage neglected public neighborhood infrastructure, including roads and storm-water systems that are privately-owned and maintained, not any responsibility of the city.
In 2004, the Golf Course Community of Baymeadows was affected by the closure and sale of its integrated private golf course for the ultimate benefits of infill for 600+ new residential homes including single family and multi-family units. The infrastructure within these communities is all “Privately-Owned and Maintained”. Therefore, there are no city-owned or city-maintained roadways or storm-water systems. The private owners of these assets are of many individuals & entities including Homeowner Associations, private owners, non-profit and commercial businesses. All without any formal agreements to share and coordinate into the maintenance and upkeep.
In the City of Jacksonville’s Neighborhood Development Standards (NDS), the conditions for which this community’s responsibility and upkeep of infrastructure would never be allowed to exist today in this independent fashion. The City’s NDS would require an oversight Homeowner Association or a Community Development District (CDD) to be in control of these private assets or be developed within City-Standards and officially turned-over to the city for future maintenance and responsibility. Neither of these conditions exist within the Old Baymeadows Golf Course Community since we are looking at a community developed 40 – 50 years ago, when neighborhood standards were quite different.
As a result of its history and independent development, these infrastructure assets are set up to fail and to become a maintenance nightmare within a dysfunctional coordination of private parties. It is the analysis of a professional engineering report, commissioned by the non-profit neighborhood organization, the Baymeadows Community Council (BCC), that the storm-water system specifically is a ticking time-bomb for failure that will potentially affect everyone.
As a result of these conditions, the State of Florida, thru Florida Statutes 189.02 provides a tool for local governments to set up “Dependent Special Districts” (DSD) to solve such issues. The DSD creates, the Baymeadows Community Improvement District (BCID), a Government Body with the Purpose, Powers, Functions and Duties to create an elected leadership and governance Board of Commissioners to assume the control, obligations, and financial responsibilities of these infrastructure assets. This government body can also provide an additional value of sovereign immunity for liabilities of such assets.
As a DSD, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) will be neighborhood “public officials”, elected, with oversight and transparency requirements of such, including Florida Sunshine Laws. The BOC will be required to construct annual budgets and to have those budgets approved by the Jacksonville City Council, each year as an additional oversight elected body.
“I have always promoted that it is extremely important to be completely transparent to the area residents regarding the Baymeadows Community Improvement District’s objective, costs and benefits as they have become known”, Councilman Becton explained. “The BCID idea is a unique solution to a problem that is complicated by the fact that we might be the first community in Jacksonville to use this tool to solve these type issues within a private neighborhood environment.”
“The Baymeadows community is unique in that it’s HOAs are outdated, have extremely poor coordination of infrastructure needs and cannot improve roadways, storm water, drainage and other common assets because most of these items are divided among multiple parties.” Councilman Becton stated. “The neighborhood needs to have an overriding authority to tackle these overlapping issues and the BCID in its governance as a Dependent Special District can provide that structure. While it has been a long process to figure this out, only within the past few years or so have the pieces begun to fall into place and it is now or never, and all or nothing.”
An additional benefit of the BCID, will allow the Baymeadows Communities to generate revenue not only towards these current and future needs but to begin the progress towards a monumental revitalization effort. The commissioned planning report, “2011 Baymeadows Community Plan” adopted by the Jacksonville City Council in 2012 is there to be utilized. This plan commissioned by the COJ Planning and Development Department, facilitated and constructed by Chris Flagg allowed residents within the Baymeadows communities to envision and define how a cohesive redevelopment might entail. It will be this document for which the BCID will have as a guide for possible future improvements.
The discussion of the BCID has been on-going for over 15 years and in January 2019 the initiative began to gain momentum as Council Member Becton, based on urgent requests from community leaders, began to hold meetings with area property owners and stakeholders. These meetings discussed the issues and worked to help educate everyone on the benefits and details of the future planned legislation. At that time, Council Member Becton said he wanted to present the most recent developments of the initiative and begin answering questions of how the BCID will manage, improve, and solve the issues of the Baymeadows Community. Later that year in June, Council Member Becton held a second of two Town Hall Meetings to present the plan. As described, the BCID would be similar to a Community Development District, or CDD which are codified under Florida Statute Chapter 190, however these are typically in place prior to development. In order to establish the BCID, the area would have to be designated as a Dependent Special District, which only requires the vote of the Jacksonville City Council. The management of this district would be the responsibility of a Board of Commissioners, four Group Seats elected every two years and three At-Large Seats elected every four. All Commissioners would run as any public official is required to do in the county during a city election from only of its membership.
Council Member Becton stressed that the BCID is only for the selected communities that reside within the designated boundaries and will not be successful if a neighborhood tries to opt out. “It’s an ‘All or Nothing’ situation;” Council Member Becton stated in his concluding remarks, “every neighborhood and commercial entity within the boundaries has to be included or this does not work”.
Now, after three years of continued discussions to unify the community behind this plan, Council Member Becton officially filed the legislation to begin the process of it ultimately being voted on, and approved, by the full Jacksonville City Council.
Upon introduction, Council Member Becton had this to say:
“This Bill may be the most important piece of legislation that I will file in my eight years on City Council,” Council Member Becton acknowledged. “These communities are at a cross-road for which this is a on-time opportunity to create a solution to solve a current and future problem, that if not dealt with, will promote the decline of property values, increase crime and safety, plus reduce the quality of life for all residents and businesses within this area,” Council Member Becton stated.
“It is my desire to leave this legacy to have the vision and fortitude to bring this bill before City Council and to work in having it passed for the good of these residents, these neighborhoods and for the City of Jacksonville.” Council Member Becton concluded.
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The Following are Responses to Frequency Asked Questions:
How did the BCID Legislation and Assessments get developed and who participated?
The assessments have been determined based on potential revenue needs for maintenance and capital improvements as noted within the Engineering Study commissioned by the Baymeadows Community Council vs. the number and type of membership into the BCID (THs, Single Family, Apts, and Commercial, etc.). The assessments, category types and everything else about the BCID has been a combination of many years of discussion, research, analysis and input by lots of Baymeadows Community leaders over the past 10 years who have been interested in its creation. As a result of those discussions, the drafted documents that you now see are a result of all of those efforts in hopes that proposed legislation to create the BCID can be initiated. While nothing is ever perfect and without opposition of some sort (especially when you are taking about assessments), this is where the BCID has landed.
What is the criteria for membership into the BCID?
The criteria for membership to the BCID is simple: Your property requires the use of Baymeadows Circle East or Baymeadows Circle West (major spine roads of the community) to access your property or your property utilizes the storm-water and drainage system or both.
How are the Assessments determined to be fair and justified?
Rizzetta and Company is a Florida-based professional community management and consulting firm that provides services to residential and commercial communities throughout the state of Florida. With over 30 years in the industry, Rizzetta and Company are also professionals in helping Community Development District’s (CDD) in their management of administrative and financial duties which is how the BCID will operate. As justification of the methodology used within the BCID for types of memberships and assessments, it was the Baymeadows Community Council’s initiative that partnered with them to provide for their “Rizzetta Feasibility Study”. This feasibility study will provide for an evaluation and analysis of the BCID’s needs vs. revenue and an analysis resulting in the validation and justification of those calculations.
Why won’t the City of Jacksonville take over our community’s public infrastructure assets?
The neighborhood has been told an emphatic “NO” over the years, by the City of Jacksonville that the Baymeadows Community roads or storm-water and drainage systems will not be assumed for the responsibility by the city for repair and future maintenance. The process for which neighborhood’s infrastructure is constructed and accepted by the city was not developed and turned over to the city for acceptance as required and described in the Neighborhood Development Standards of the City’s Ordinance Code.
As noted under Roadway Maintenance on the Public Works website, https://www.coj.net/departments/public-works/right-of-way-and-grounds-maintenance/roadway-maintenance the process is described as follows:
The Right of Way and stormwater Maintenance (RWSM) Division maintains roads that have been formally accepted for maintenance, either by the Duval County government or the consolidated City of Jacksonville.
Roads are on rights of way (ROW). ROW that is open for public access is dedicated to the city through a plat. Plats are recorded with the Duval County Clerk of Court and kept by the city’s Topographical/Survey section for historical record. Chapter 117.081(3), Florida Statutes, explains that a right of way dedicated to the city does not obligate the city to maintain it.
When land is developed and road(s) established, the developer has the option to build the road to city standard, then apply for the city to accept it.
If the road is not built to city standard, and/or if the developer doesn’t request acceptance by the city, then the city holds no responsibility for maintaining the road or its associated drainage system. These roads are generically referred to as “private,” but some are technically unmaintained city rights of way.
New residents/neighborhoods claim they have no benefit?
First, everyone uses Baymeadows Circle East and/or Baymeadows Circle West for accessing their property. Second, every neighborhood old or new, storm-water and drainage system is integrated together. Third, new neighborhoods including Meadow Walk, Baypointe South, Baypointe North, Mallard Creek, Terrance Pines, Alden Landing, all of these communities Public Infrastructure, while new, will become the responsibility of the BCID. This means, the expense that they are now paying or will be paying into their HOA fees for the accrual into their reserves for these assets, will be “transferred” over to the BCID. Basically netting “a wash” for those expenses and eliminating the general liability from the community of those assets.
Every new community’s storm-water system is integrated into the overall 50+ year old system of the entire community. If that system fails, their system will fail. Yes, like everyone else, for the primary roads and the overall storm-water and drainage system, which EVERYONE USES, these assets will include an additional expense for the future repair and maintain of those assets.
Yes, everyone has the responsibility and interest for the primary roads and the overall storm water & drainage system that is shared. These assets if not protected and maintained, will be a liability and will affect everyone’s property values and quality of life.
How can I show support for the BCID?
It is vital that the BCID have the support of the community. While no one should be under the illusion that everyone will think that this is a great idea, it is important that for those who do, SHOW IT!
First, send All Council Members a Supportive Email at:
Bowman, Aaron [email protected]; Boylan, Michael [email protected]; Carlucci, Matthew [email protected]; Carrico, Kevin [email protected]; DeFoor, Randle [email protected]; Diamond, Rory [email protected]; Dennis, Garrett [email protected]; Ferraro, Albert [email protected]; Freeman, Terrance [email protected]; Gaffney, Reginald [email protected]; Danford, Joyce [email protected]; Newby, Samuel [email protected]; Pittman, JuCoby [email protected]; Jackson, Brenda [email protected]; Salem, Ronald [email protected]; White, Randy [email protected]; Danny Becton [email protected]
Second, talk to your neighbors. Communicate to them the importance of the BCID to the Quality of Life, Security and Safety of the neighborhood and the Protection of Property Values for which the BCID will protect. Get them to email their support as well.
Third, once the bill is filed, BE PREPARED to speak at any Public Hearings for the Bill to City Council. Your VOICE will be IMPORTANT to having this legislation passed. Without it, those who Oppose will only be heard.
Check Back as More Q&A Will be added.