FBCC approves 3 Land Development Ordinances on First Reading

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 20. 2020

On First Reading at their May 19, 2020 Virtual Regular Meeting, Fernandina Beach City Commissioners unanimously passed three Ordinances amending the City’s Land Development Code (LDC):

  • Ordinance 2020-16 – Building height encroachments
  • Ordinance 2020-17 – Planning Advisory Board membership
  • Ordinance 2020-18 – Historic District changes

These Ordinances will return to the FBCC for a Second Reading and Public Hearing at a future date.  Until they are adopted, they will not become effective.

Ordinance 2020-16 – Building height encroachments

The City of Fernandina Beach has established strict building height calculations which serve to preserve its small-town characteristic and avoid large structures along its coastline. The requested changes have been vetted over nearly two years to determine if there are valid concerns relative to the current allowable height encroachments. The Planning Advisory Board has consistently maintained that these encroachments should be reduced or eliminated altogether. 

The proposed changes mandate that a 35-foot height limit for residential structures within 1,000 feet of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) must be inclusive of all rooftop structures except vents and chimneys (required by the Florida Building Code).  This means that the height may not be exceeded to include “architectural rooftop features, mechanical equipment, or elevator shafts.”  Furthermore, the change prohibits the granting of a variance to reduce the minimum side yard setbacks.

Ordinance 2020-17 – Planning Advisory Board membership

These City Commission-directed Land Development Code amendments were requested by the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) in January 2020, to maintain consistency of board membership,  provide consistency with other City Advisory boards, and retain board membership through election cycles.  The Ordinance increases the number of Regular PAB Members to 7 and eliminates Alternate Members.  It also returns to the full FBCC the appointment of all PAB members, a change from current procedure in which each City Commissioner appoints a member whose term runs concurrently with the Commissioner’s.  

Ordinance 2020-18 – Historic District changes

Over the past two years, the Historic District Council (HDC) has discussed a number of Land Development Code changes designed to ensure the preservation and protection of historic and cultural resources within Fernandina Beach as directed by the City of Fernandina Beach’s Comprehensive Plan.  The changes cover a number of topics. Whereas, some are changes to code designed to clarify issues that have been identified by the HDC, many others correct inaccuracies in the code.  

Some of the proposed changes include: 

  • For properties within the boundaries of the Historic District, CRA, and Old Town: All rooftop mechanical equipment shall be screened from view to adjacent properties and rights-of-way by utilizing parapets or other screening elements that are integrated into the overall architecture of the structure and constructed using materials and methods that are consistent with those used on the building;
  • Strengthened requirements for demolition permit applications;
  • Standards for fencing.

For complete information on all proposed changes affecting the Historic District, Old Town Historic District, and the Community Redevelopment area (CRA), click here.