Waterfront Plans, Developments and Future

I don’t like wasting words. I take that back…I do enjoy this blog and there are times when this feels like the best way to put thoughts into the virtual world. Yesterday, I spent some time taking update pictures of the City of Fernandina Beach Marina. Looking at the view from above, this really is the most under-appreciated and underused asset in the city. Finishing this project and, also, controlling the impact is could have on the CoFB as a whole is pretty important.

City Marina on November 21, 2019

Considering the direction things are going or have gone in recent commission meetings, don’t we have enough plans to move forward with a logical improvement of the waterfront. Sometimes planning again is a waste of money. We should be focused on finishing pieces of the areas surrounding the water, if not the actual waterfront. Think about finishing projects, not dreaming of new projects.

Simmons Road Park…..now that would be an entirely new discussion. Funding changed and we are already increasing the tax burden on residents with environmental land purchases and the third or fourth set of waterfront studies/plans? While I love the idea of serving every citizen in the city, we also tend to build facilities or expand “NEW” areas with the misguided belief we have somehow found money in the recreational impact fee magic money tree. It might be popular to vote to build something, but paying the maintenance associated with every single structure makes that decision something the taxpayer is burdened with forever. We need some common sense and, lacking common sense, at least be willing to ask the right questions. Do we have money in the budget or are we just planning to increase the tax rate? Are we planning for future maintenance costs? Do taxpayers support the decision and are they willing to pay the real cost? Are we spending city tax dollars to serve city residents? Are we prioritizing decisions logically?

A1A and 95 and Completion Summer of 2020

The profound changes coming after completion of this project will be felt on Amelia, not during construction, but after construction as homes are completed and access to the best area beaches is suddenly easier to reach. Consider the rooftops coming in and in the vicinity of Wildlight. Consider where those new residents will choose to visit and which beaches are most convenient. Free parking, restaurants and the time to reach a resource mean Fernandina and Amelia Island should see record levels in 2020.

Looking toward Amelia Island from A1A and I-95

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began construction in January 2017 on the area’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at Interstate 95 in Nassau County. 
This project consists of widening the roadway from 4 lanes to 6 lanes with raised medians, curb & gutter, sidewalks and bicycle lanes (2 miles). This project will also include the addition of a new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI)* under I-95 at A1A Exit 373 (to Callahan/Yulee/Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island). The project began construction in January, 2017, and is expected to be completed by summer 2020.

FDOT, www.nflroads.com June 10, 2019

Limitations of Elected Office and Fernandina Beach City Charter

One of the first lessons learned, when elected to office…is serious and meant to create  reasonable local government.  In other words, the charter is supposed to protect the taxpayer or voter from the “unreasonable”.  Election comes with limits. Direction of employees or direction to move funds from department to department, study an issue….all goes through a “Charter Officer” and the commission as a body, not the department head. Commissioners are not entitled to act as city manager or run roughshod over the charter. This means, conversations with employees are limited to information gathering and generally will happen after notification of the manager or appropriate charter officer prior or after specific direction by a commission. The danger of either directing action in violation of the charter or a perception of directing is increased when we have direct appointment of members to boards, active/frequent/vocal attendance at advisory meetings and an excessive and overwhelming presence in day to day operations at City Hall.

Sec. 10. – Powers generally; dealing with administrative service through Charter Officers required; violations deemed misdemeanor, penalty.

(a)The Mayor and Commissioners shall not, in any manner, dictate the appointment or removal of any city officers or employees whom the Charter Officer or any of his/her subordinates are empowered to appoint, evaluate and supervise.(b)All powers of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by the constitution of this state, are hereby vested in the City Commission. Except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by the constitution of this state, the City Commission may by ordinance or resolution prescribe the manner in which any power of the city shall be exercised.(c)The Mayor and Commissioners shall deal with administrative service through the respective Charter Officer. The Mayor and Commissioners shall not directly interfere with or direct the conduct of any employee in the discharge of prescribed duties. However, with the express permission of the respective Charter Officer, the Mayor and Commissioners may communicate directly with an employee.(d)Any violation of the provisions of this section by any member of the City Commission shall, upon first offense be grounds for sanction by the Commission, and any second or subsequent offense or violation within a commissioner’s term shall constitute a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof before any court of competent jurisdiction the violator shall be fined in an amount not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00), or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six (6) months, or both, at the discretion of the court, and shall be subject to removal from office.(e)Investigations or inquiries shall be conducted pursuant to Section 136 of this charter.

(Laws of Fla., ch. 8949(1921), § 10; Ord. No. 91-17, § 1, 9-17-91; Ord. No. 2009-06, § 3, 3-7-09). Source: City of Fernandina Beach Charter June 8, 2019

Best Use, Great Corner and Thoughts…..

Sometimes it makes sense to consider what a community wants. This corner appears to lend itself to use as a convenience store and gas station, but what else might fit? What does the community need and want on this corner?

I tend to see locations like this as a challenge. The 2.64 acre site is big enough for more than one use, so uses like, hypothetically, a Chick-fil-a might work with another use like a convenience store or a second restaurant. Drive through with access from the Lime Street side would be ideal. What about an Aldi or another smaller grocery chain? This site would be closer to a number of apartments and walkable for a significant population. I didn’t mention it yet, but the acreage is equivalent to a larger site with the right to use retention “off site” included as a part of the PUD.

Best Vacant Commercial Corner on Amelia Island?

I won’t list all potential uses, but I wonder what the community might like?

A few thoughts about a Living Shoreline

Flying over the marina in Fernandina, I noticed something interesting. The discussion about a living shoreline is really, in my opinion, only about allowing the natural tendency of a part of the shore to return to a more environmentally friendly and less costly state. This drone shot shows an are with a more natural appearance and the portion of the marina being rebuilt. The difference is dramatic.

Aloha Bagel and Deli…Hidden Gem

If you haven’t tried Aloha for breakfast or lunch, you’re missing a hidden gem on 8th Street.  Somehow, I missed this for the last year and stopped in earlier this week. Sandwiches are fantastic and the salads are the best I remember.  Fresh ingredients, baby spinach and fresh bread every day. hERafaNAROCbPzmaann5Fg

Stop in….I don’t think you’ll regret giving them a try.

432 S 8th St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034


Perspective and Access

I’ve been reading a lot about beach access in the last few months.  As perspectives go, I tend to see things as a native.  We’re tolerant of change and most of us speak up when an issue is personally important.   Growth and population changes everything.  Whether we’re talking about the number of cars crossing the bridge or how many spaces are left at Main Beach on a typical day.


When more people desire access to a limited resource, the access to that resource will be different.  Thinking forward, consider an increased county population and fully improved A1A.  Amelia Island is the location of choice, if access is available….whether we’re talking about parking or about an improved road.

Conservation Errors and Number of Owners Impacted? How would you feel if your home were suddenly designated as conservation on the FLUM….?

Notice anything …..at all?

How would you feel if your home or land became conservation on the Future Land Use Map?  Think about it!  4 properties show up on the property appraiser’s GIS system with conservation and a sliver of our homestead is also crossed by the line.  I feel the designation is an error and I intend to ask for a correction.  I want to know who made the error and why the homesteaded properties were designated.  The FLUM lines have no connection to ownership, topo lines or wetland lines.  I was told the CoFB has no intention of addressing other errors and only intends to consider the current property with so much recent opposition, Amelia Bluff, on Citrona.  Why would we not see a correction of all 4, 5 or “SEVENTY” properties with errors?

In looking at the GIS maps from the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s website, I see a number of properties with a potentially erroneous conservation designation on the  Future Land Use map.  It is, perhaps, worth asking a question.  Why are “ALL ERRORS” not being voluntarily corrected?  One property on this map may actually have a home crossed by a FLUM conservation designation line.  Does this owner need to worry?  I would like clarification and I want to know how this happened.  

As enlarged as this map may be, I wouldn’t see the line potentially crossing a few feet of our back property line, without aid of the GIS system….hopefully accurate and “to scale”.

Below, you’ll see a piece of conservation FLUM, with Conservation designation, crossing the back of our property, “ONLY VISIBLE WITH AID OF MAGNIFICATION, GIS”.  Reasonable?  Not in my opinion!

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 8.52.13 PM

On a whim, I enlarged a view of our land…..a lot!   Same spot with arrow on the other image……

The last embedded video you see includes discussion at the March 13th PAB meeting related to as many as 140 properties with inconsistencies.  My particular concern is in one PAB member’s comments related to an erroneous map ruling over the zoning and also, I have an issue with comments suggesting handling this privately….or out of the sunshine?  See comments by Member Frank Santry at about the 6 minute mark.