Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 10, 2017 5:00 p.m.
No complaints from the neighbors + no wetlands = no problem. The Fernandina Beach City Commission unanimously approved on first reading on November 8, 2017, Ordinance 2017-25, which changes the city’s zoning map to provide for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay to approximately 5.10 acres located on S. 13th Street between Hickory Street and Fir Street. The project, known as Hickory Ridge, is intended to address unmet needs for more affordable housing in the city.
During the quasi judicial hearing on the agenda item, no one came forward to oppose the project. A second reading is required before final approval can be granted.
According to the developer’s Letter of Intent sent to the city on September 28, 2017, Gillette & Associates, Inc., agent for Simmons 9, LLC,
“The PUD will provide for multiple housing group types while also providing a unique “garden type” design. The existing R-2 zoning designation is a rigid residential zoning district that does not allow for this type of design flexibility. A reduction in setbacks is being requested in order to provide for additional tree preservation on site and allow for flexible housing product. In order to ensure the tree preservation goal is accomplished, a maximum building footprint of 1,100 sf is being proposed for the primary structure. A maximum 280 SF structure is being proposed for a garage element that is separate from the primary structure. This equates to a maximum aggregate building coverage of 1,380 SF per lot.
“The total open space that is proposed to be dedicated and maintained by the Homeowners Association for the development is 2.0 acres or 39% of the site. If maximum buildout occurred on every lot in accordance with the proposed maximum lot coverage, an additional 0.38 acres of open space will be present on the 41 lots in aggregate. This would achieve an overall open space yield of over 46% for the entire site. It is highly unlikely full lot coverage will be achieved for each lot within the proposed development, resulting in open space in excess of 46% of the total site.”
In the Staff Report considered by the Planning Advisory Board, Planning Manager Kelly Gibson wrote: “The applicant seeks to create a fee simple housing product to meet workforce housing demands within a centrally located area of the City. As part of the letter of intent for the PUD, the applicant has provided an economic analysis to demonstrate how the product would fulfill this need within the community.”
According to Commissioner John Miller, who attended the Planning Advisory Board hearing in October on the Hickory Ridge request, neighbors attended in support of the project, expressing safety concerns with the existing undeveloped parcel.