The northern part of St. Johns County, just south of Jacksonville, has experienced an insane level of growth over the past few decades.
The county’s northern region was for many years utilized mostly for timber or farming, but as demands changed, land has been sold off to develop sprawling, luxurious master-planned communities.
These communities – such as Nocatee, Julington Creek Plantation, and Bartram Park – have grown so large that many of them have their own schools, gyms, grocery stores, and other amenities. Residents of these self-contained communities rarely have to venture outside their immediate vicinity – to the point that they feel like small towns.
But they’re not towns. They don’t have individual governments, instead being overseen by St. Johns County’s board of commissioners. Despite these communities’ individual identities, they’re all still considered part of “unincorporated St. Johns County.”
And while these communities all start out with their own niches and amenities, springing up on seemingly remote stretches of land, the area’s out-of-control development pace means that they will start butting up against each other sooner rather than later.
The county will soon become unable to provide adequate resources – fire rescue, police officers, and other vital community needs – to all of the residents of these communities. It’s the same problem Duval County faced prior to the Duval-Jacksonville consolidation efforts.
Soon enough, official lines will have to be drawn in northern St. Johns, and a more localized municipality – or municipalities – will have to be formed.
But what would that look like?
Right now, most of the area is designated by the U.S. Postal Service and other official agencies as either Saints Johns, FL, or Ponte Vedra, FL. The U.S. census lists Nocatee, Fruit Cove, and World Golf Village as census designated places as of 2010 – but others will presumably be added in 2020.
Historically, at least some of the land was referred to as Switzerland. The unincorporated community of Switzerland still exists near the Shearwater community and Fruit Cove, a community which also has deeper historic roots.
It may make sense for a future consolidated northern St. Johns area to have a name rooted in the land’s history, but it wouldn’t reflect the entirety of the area. And it also wouldn’t reflect the recent nature of the majority of the area’s development.
It’s likely that such a consolidation would take the name of either its current designation, Saint Johns, or its largest community, Nocatee.
What do you think the area should be referred to as? Do you think it even needs a cohesive identity? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below!