Amelia Tree Conservancy to hold public meeting to inform

Amelia Tree Conservancy
Press Release
Submitted by Lyn Pannone
September 25, 2018 1:00 p.m.

A Michael Spicer Photo

Amelia Tree Conservancy
Informational Meeting
DATE: Sunday, September 30
TIME: 4:00 to 6:00pm
PLACE: Story and Song Bookstore Bistro
1430 Park Avenue, Fernandina Beach

Lately, because of all the activity regarding the city’s land conservation fund, the stop work order for the hotel on Sadler and the county working through the process of revising the existing Amelia Island tree ordinance as well as other things, Amelia Tree Conservancy has had a bunch of folks asking us how they can help. So we’re having a public meeting where we will update people on what’s happening and let them know how they can help.

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

City’s Marina Advisory Board holds first meeting

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 24, 2018 5:32 p.m.

The Marina Advisory Board (MAB) of the city of Fernandina Beach held its first meeting the afternoon of September 24, 2018 in City Hall Commission Chambers.

MAB members (l-r): Paul Lore, Allen Mills, Scott Stewart, Cathy Chapman, Joe Springer, Coleman Langshaw, Joe Blanchard, Kevin McCarthy and Terry Lacoss

The meeting, which was organizational in nature, lasted about 20 minutes.  After electing its officers, the MAB established its regular meeting time as the 4thMonday of the month at 6:00 p.m. in City Hall. The next business meeting will be held on October 22, 2018.  Committee agendas will be published on the city’s website

MAB officers (l-r): Vice Chair Cathy Chapman, Chair Kevin McCarthy and Recording Secretary Coleman Langshaw

Marina Manager Joe Springer will serve as staff liaison for the committee.  Newly elected chair Kevin McCarthy asked that members come to the next meeting prepared to introduce themselves and explain their interest in serving on the advisory board.  He suggested that they familiarize themselves with the role of city advisory committees as well.

Springer reminded members that they are not permitted to discuss committee business with other members outside formal meetings, adding that they will receive a briefing on Florida Sunshine Law requirements at the next MAB meeting.

The MAB is an advisory, ad hoc committee.  Its tasks as enumerated in Resolution 2018-98 require the board to provide advice and make recommendations to the FBCC as follows:

  1. Make recommendations regarding a comprehensive plan for the physical development and betterment of the Marina.
  2. Make recommendations on the operation of the Marina and for the improvement of the operations.
  3. Make recommendations regarding policies, such as Marina Rules and Regulations and the Marina Code of Conduct.
  4. Perform additional functions as requested by the City Commission to advise and assist in the continued operation and betterment of the Marina.

At the end of the meeting Springer announced that Fender Marine has been taking core samples in preparation for the replacement of the south marina basin attenuator.  The mobilization date for commencement of the project is November 27, 2018.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

1 Comment | Posted in City News |

FBCC evaluates performance of Charter Officers

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 24, 2018 12:44 p.m.

At the end of each Fiscal Year, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) evaluate the performances of their three Charter Officers:  the City Attorney, the City Clerk and the City Manager.  This year was no exception.  Commissioners provided the public with some insight into their evaluations at the end of their September 18, 2018 Regular Meeting.

Over the years, commissioners have handled this task in a variety of ways ranging from one-on-one oral evaluation sessions with each employee to completing detailed evaluation forms or memos.

This year proved no exception, with each commissioner handling the evaluations in his own way. Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in City News |

Amelia Community Theatre opens its 38th Season with RIPCORD

Amelia Community Theatre
Press Release
Submitted by Cindy Levine
September 24, 2018 3:00 p.m.

Photo courtesy of David Burghardt – Island Photography

“Ripcord,” a hilarious comic drama by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire opens Thursday, September 27 at 8 p.m. on Amelia Community Theatre’s Main Stage. The theatre begins its 38th season with this witty production, which is sponsored by The Lakeside at Amelia Island.

In “Ripcord,” we meet two competitive female roommates at the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility. Cantankerous Abby, played by Catherine West, is forced to share her sunny third floor room with newly arrived and infuriatingly chipper Marilyn, played by Phyllis Stabler. Abby is determined to get rid of Marilyn by any means necessary; however, Marilyn has no inclination to leave. The women eventually strike a bargain: If Abby can force the good humored Marilyn to get angry, Abby gets to keep the room as a single. If Marilyn can scare the stoic Abby, then Abby has to give up her bed near the window with its view of the park. What follows is an escalating battle as each challenge becomes more desperate and dastardly.

As the play progresses, each woman’s secrets are revealed, adding a personal layer to the rivalry in a bittersweet “Golden Girls” meets “The Odd Couple” style story. “Ripcord” is rated PG-13 and is directed by Laura Swaim with a supporting cast that includes Daniel Cahill, Scott Campbell, Toni D’Amico, and Chris Twiggs.

Performances are at 8 p.m. September 27-29, October 4-6, 11-13 and 2 p.m. on October 7 at 207 Cedar Street.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students through college, and may be purchased at or by calling 904-261-6749 Box office hours are 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Season ticket packages for the main stage are also still available.

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

DEO Launches Rebuild Florida in Jacksonville to Help Families Repair and Rebuild Homes Damaged by Hurricane Irma

Florida Dept. of Economic Activity

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Friday, September 28, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will open its Jacksonville Rebuild Florida center. Rebuild Florida is a new program that will connect eligible Floridians with federal disaster recovery assistance to repair or rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irma. Rebuild Florida prioritizes the most-impacted communities and the most vulnerable low-income individuals, including the elderly, those with disabilities and families with young children. Representatives from DEO will be available to answer questions and conduct interviews.

What:          News Conference: Rebuild Florida Jacksonville Launch

When:         Friday, September 28, 11 a.m.              

Where:       Jacksonville Rebuild Florida Center
215 Market St.

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Nassau Alcohol Crime Drug Abatement Coalition program – Opioid Epidemic and the impact on our community

Press Release

September 24, 2018 10:00 a.m.

On October 24 at 3:30 PM, Nassau Alcohol Crime Drug Abatement Coalition (NACDAC), will host its quarterly Coalition meeting. The meeting will be held at the City Police Station Training Room on Lime Street in Fernandina Beach.

The guest speaker for the meeting will be Emma Slier from the N.E. Florida Healthy Start Coalition. Emma is the Director of Prevention and will have a presentation on the Opioid Epidemic and the outreaching effects in our community.

Light refreshments will be served, and the public is encouraged to attend. The Coalition is looking for partners to expand, inform and serve the needs of our county.
Please plan on attending this informative event and RSVP to [email protected] by October 19 by 4:00 PM.

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

St. Michael’s Church campus expansion continues under city review

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 23, 2018 5:30 p.m.

Revised plan for St. Michael’s Church Office showing relationship to neighboring residential structures along Broome St.

The Fernandina Beach Historic District Council (HDC) met on September 20, 2018 and considered seven cases. Among those were two applications (HDC 2018-17 and HDC 2018-20) relating to plans to expand the campus of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church along the east side of North 5thStreet between Broome and Calhoun Streets.  The HDC approved the church’s request for a variance to allow it to reduce the setback of the proposed church office building so that the front of the new building lines up with existing historic district structures on the block. The HDC had previously approved a request to demolish the existing church office building, a 1970’s-era ranch style building that did not contribute to the Historic District.

The HDC also granted conceptual approval to revised plans for the proposed church office building. Project architect Jose Miranda had incorporated feedback from HDC members provided at a previous hearing to reduce the mass of the building and use lap siding as opposed to stucco as the building’s exterior finish.  Miranda also proposed moving the entrance to the building’s garage from North 5thStreet to the parking lot adjacent to the north of the building. Such a move would allow for additional landscape on the street side and also possibly help stormwater mitigation.

The elevation drawings below show revisions from the first plans.  Not shown is the current plan to change the garage entrance  so that the doors face north into the parking lot:

Note that conceptual approval only allows planning to proceed.  It does not imply or guarantee that additional changes will not be made or that the final approval is automatic.

At Miranda’s request, the HDC postponed until its November 15 meeting the church’s request for a variance from parking requirements set out in city Land Development Code section 7.01.04(B)6. Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in City News |

Plat approval, annexations, FLUM Amendments, zoning changes … Oh, my!

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 23, 2018 4:21 p.m.

Requested city actions that affect land use in one form or another are complex and time consuming, requiring consideration by city staff, the Planning Advisory Board and ultimately the Fernandina Beach City Commission.  And that doesn’t even get into the issue of permit and hearing costs for the applicants.

Recently, FBCC consideration of applications for changes has become even more complicated with the addition of something called quasi-judicial hearings.  Previously, the FBCC heard ordinances at two readings, the second of which formally included a Public Hearing, even though the FBCC generally took public input during the First Reading as well.

WHAT DOES QUASI-JUDICIAL MEAN? [Source: Dunedin, FL document entitled:  Citizen’s Guide to a Quasi-Judicial Process ]

Several years ago, the Florida Supreme Court changed the law on rezoning, site plan approvals, special exceptions, variances and similar types of development approvals from a legislative decision process to a quasi-judicial decision process. A legislative process is one in which policy is created by a legislative body (the City Commission). A quasi-judicial action is when the facts of a particular situation are applied to the policy (ordinance). Essentially, a quasi- judicial process is the application of policy to a fact situation.

Typical quasi-judicial proceedingsare those in which a property owner makes an application to the City for a rezoning, site plan approval, a special exception or variance. There are rules and standards set forth in the ordinances regarding the criteria that must be met in order to get a special exception or a variance, what has to be included in the site plan, and what the standards are for reviewing these applications. The facts of the case are applied to the standards set forth in the ordinance, and the decision is then made.

The proceedings before these boards in a quasi-judicial matter are somewhat like a court proceeding; therefore, the term “quasi-judicial.” They have some of the elements of a judicial or court proceeding.

In a legislative proceeding, the City Commission can take into account anything that it considers important to help it make its decision, including the popularity or public acceptance of a particular policy. In a quasi-judicial proceeding, the City Commission and the City boards are not allowed to take into consideration the popularity of a particular development proposal or request for variance or special exception; they can only consider the competent andsubstantial evidence before the board or the City Commission.

What does this mean for Fernandina Beach land use applications?

The city’s Historic District Council and Board of Adjustment have regularly conducted quasi-judicial proceedings to address cases that come before them.  However, this has not been the case, until recently, for the FBCC hearings on land use matters.

During their September 18, 2018 Regular Meeting the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) considered five separate agenda items dealing with land issues.  Some, such as the Lakeside Reserve plat and two voluntary annexations were given final approval.  Others involved quasi-judicial hearings, following which no vote was taken on the entire case; but preliminary approval via a legislative hearing was provided.  That second category must return to the FBCC for a final vote during a Second Reading.

The cases presented at the September 18, 2018 are summarized below.  For a complete reading of the ordinances, staff reports, applications, etc., consult the Agenda & Minutes for this meeting on the city’s website. Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in City News |

Free credit freezes are here

By Andrew Smith, FTC Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection and
Gail Hillebrand, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

September 23, 2018 1:00 p.m.Security freezes, also known as credit freezes, restrict access to your credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Starting September 21, 2018, you can freeze and unfreeze your credit file for free. You also can get a free freeze for your children who are under 16. And if you are someone’s guardian, conservator or have a valid power of attorney, you can get a free freeze for that person, too.

How will these freezes work? Contact all three of the nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you request a freeze online or by phone, the agency must place the freeze within one business day. If you request a lift of the freeze, the agency must lift it within one hour. If you make your request by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days after it gets your request. You also can lift the freeze temporarily without a fee.

Don’t confuse freezes with locks. They work in a similar way, but locks may have monthly fees. If you want a free freeze guaranteed by federal law, then opt for a freeze, not a lock.

Year-long fraud alerts

A fraud alert tells businesses that check your credit that they should check with you before opening a new account. Starting September 21, 2018, when you place a fraud alert, it will last one year, instead of 90 days. Fraud alerts will still be free and identity theft victims can still get an extended fraud alert for seven years.

Credit freezes and the military

If you’re in the military, you’ll still have access to active duty alerts, which let you place a fraud alert for one year, renewable for the time you’re deployed. The active duty alert also gives you an added benefit: the credit reporting agencies will take your name off their marketing lists for prescreened credit card offers for two years (unless you ask them to add you back on).

You can place a fraud alert or active duty alert by visiting any one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experianor TransUnion. The one that you contact must notify the other two. You also can find links to their websites at

Issues with a credit freeze

If you think a credit reporting agency is not placing a credit freeze or fraud alert properly, you can submit a complaint onlineor by calling 855-411-2372. If you think someone stole your identity, visit the FTC’s website,, to get a personalized recovery plan that walks you through the steps to take.

For more information, check out Place a Fraud Alert, Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes, and Credit Freeze FAQs. And if you’re considering a child credit freeze, you also may want to read Child Identity Theft.

Credit Bureau Contacts

Contact the national credit bureaus to request fraud alerts, credit freezes (also known as security freezes), and opt outs from pre‑screened credit offers.


888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)




Leave a comment | Posted in General |