Submitted by Susan Hardee Steger
October 30, 2014 9:30 a.m.
Five city commissioners along with City Manager Joe Gerrity, City Attorney Tammi Bach, and Attorney Arthur I. “Buddy” Jacobs, met on October 28, for approximately 20 minutes to discuss the City of Fernandina Beach v. State of Florida and the Joanne Conlon v. the City of Fernandina Beach impact fee cases.
During the public meeting immediately following the executive session, there was no response to the request by the Fernandina Observer to “advise the citizens and taxpayers of the City as to whether and when the City Commission will act to approve settlement in the impact fee litigation.”
The Fernandina Observer is challenging the City to produce the impact fee settlement agreement after the opposing parties informed the Florida Supreme Court that they have “entered into” a tentative settlement agreement. Click here for previous article “Do the attorneys in the impact fee case suffer from premature announcement?”
Following the executive session, City Attorney Tammi Bach delivered an email to the Fernandina Observer describing the Supreme Court filing as “somewhat inaccurate.” A portion of her statement follows:
“I understand why you might conclude from the Motion filed with the Florida Supreme Court canceling oral arguments that the City has entered into a settlement agreement. I assure you that the City has NOT entered into any settlement agreement (tentative or otherwise) with Ms. Conlon or anyone else regarding the water impact fee cases.
I believe that the document filed with the Florida Supreme Court was somewhat inaccurate by stating the parties have “entered into” a tentative settlement agreement. Note the term “tentative” in the Motion filed with the Court. Only the City Commission at a public meeting can “enter into” a settlement document that binds the City. The purpose of the Motion filed with the Court was to cancel oral arguments to avoid the parties and Court expending resources in preparation for oral arguments when it is likely that a settlement agreement will be considered by the City Commission and Ms. Conlon in the near future.
I don’t know when a settlement agreement will go to a public meeting before the City Commission. I hope very soon. However, the terms of any settlement have not been finalized and hence, the recent attorney/client meetings with the City Commission and City’s counsel.”
The Fernandina Observer informed the City that it was consulting with Florida’s First Amendment Foundation and that its General Counsel had advised that there is no blanket rule excluding drafts or other non-final document from public records access.
Previous articles on the impact fee cases follow: