Commissioners Table Economic Incentive Request

Commissioners Table Economic Incentive Request

St. Johns County Commissioners tabled a request from a developer for economic incentives until representatives of the company sit down with the county with more information about their plans.

The company, Pavo LLC, is seeking more than $100,000 in incentives over a 20-year period, including 100% of impact fees and water/sewer connection fees, as well as four years of property tax payments and expedited permitting. Pavo plans  to build a 22,680-square foot building near Interstate 95 and International Golf Parkway as a possible industrial or office space facility. The speculative building is estimated to be completed by the third quarter of 2025 and attract high-tech tenants to the area.

“This kind of space is intended for the smaller businesses to grow into what we need and provide them a space to grow their businesses,” said Deputy County Administrator Colin Groff.

But with the applicant unable to attend the commission meeting due to an emergency, county commissioners balked at approving the request.

“I’m not sure who the owner is,” said Commissioner Krista Joseph. “I want to know what is going in there. I don’t understand why I should approve this at all.”

Groff said while normally applicants would make a presentation to commissioners, the incentives ordinance does not require any additional information than what was included in the agenda packet.

“As long as they meet the requirements of the ordinance, we bring it forward,” he said.

That explanation did not change Joseph’s mind, however.

“I just want to make sure it is a legitimate company that is going to build,” she said. “I’m just really concerned.”

Those concerns were amplified by members of the public commenting on the application.

“All these rebates that we’re giving, we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” said resident Heather Harley Davidson. “These companies are coming anyway. Why are we giving them incentives and rebates and such?”

Joseph’s concerns were also shared by Commissioner Henry Dean.

“I think some legitimate questions have been raised on this item,” he said. “I will say I have been a strong proponent of economic development and economic incentives since I’ve been on the commission.”

Commissioner Christian Whitehurst also expressed concerns and voted to table the item.

“As a business proposal, this is a good deal for St. Johns County,” he said, citing the anticipated $5 million investment for land and building the company would make for the project. “But we need to know who we’re doing business with.”

The motion to table the measure passed unanimously.