May 6, 2022
UPDATE ON 50 ACRES Riverstone Properties is again seeking to develop the 50-acre tract adjacent to the state park at the south end of our island. The company wants to construct eleven condominium towers, each 85 feet high and seven stories.
Last year county commissioners passed an ordinance limiting the height of any new construction to 45 feet. At that meeting, Riverstone’s attorney. threatened to sue if no more towers were allowed.
Riverstone gave the required 90 day notice on March 7 before filing suit challenging the height limit. Riverstone asserted they had been damaged by $27 million when the height restriction was imposed. The calculation of damages appears intended only to scare the public and commissioners worried about the county’s liability. It considers no alternate development options other than highrises.
Concerned citizens sought an independent opinion from Gray Robinson, a Florida law firm with land use and Bert Harris Act expertise. The firm was asked to provide a realistic assessment of county liability. Gray Robinson summarized its opinions in a legal memorandum given to the commissioners and the county attorney. They concluded that, “In our opinion Riverstone’s Notice of Claim should be viewed as a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt by a property owner looking to cash in on a hypothetical development possibility at Nassau County’s expense.”
Riverstone claims that the property was worth $72 million if 85-foot condos could be built, but only $45 million if those condo towers are limited to 45 feet. That difference is their claim for $27 million. However, if developed as approximately 40 high-end, single-family residences, it could be worth $72 million. Prominent local real estate agents endorse that opinion.
We urge the commission to get an additional outside legal opinion from a firm experienced in these matters. There is nothing to lose by doing so. The citizens and voters deserve it.
Fernandina Observer Update: Information obtained from Conserve Amelia Now mentioned that on May 11, the county will either post a possible settlement offer between the county and Riverstone or a notice of Public Hearing for May 23. Cindy Jackson, Fernandina Observer reporter, asked Taco Pope, county manager, and Denise May, to comment on this information. The county attorney declined to comment on settlement talks or a possible public hearing. According to May, “This issue is still pending and taking its course pursuant to the statutory timelines. We do not comment further on threatened or pending litigation items.”
How You Can Help:
ASAP Please let our county commissioners know that the construction of eleven condo towers is unacceptable. We do not want to be over developed like Miami Beach or any other over developed, coastal region. By not obtaining another outside, independent legal opinion they are bowing down without a fight.
The best way to let your county commissioners know your feelings is via email and phone calls to all of them using the following:
John Martin– [email protected] 904 570-2594
Aaron Bell [email protected] 904 451-4094
Jeff Gray– [email protected] 904 570-1946
Tom Ford– [email protected] 904 451-0766
Klynt Farmer– [email protected] 904 570-1357
Denise May- [email protected] (county attorney)
Taco Pope – [email protected] (county manager)