FAA nixes thoughts of RV park on Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport property

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Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
December 22, 2017 12:23 p.m.


While many local residents and potential visitors found the concept of an island luxury RV park intriguing, it appears that the FAA has found it less so. In a December 21, 2017 email to Airport Manager Nathan Coyle, FAA official Stephen Wilson wrote:

“We’ve reviewed the RV Park proposal and are unable to approve its land use at FHB. As we discussed, these projects could be considered residential and would be incompatible with an airport. In addition, we would not support the zoning change to accommodate the proposal.”

Bob Allison, the local developer who has been attempting to find a place on the island for this project since 2013, wrote in an email to City Commissioners and staff:

“Needless to say we are disappointed.  Reversing the fortunes of the City’s Golf Club, transplanting several hundred mature trees on to the island, and bringing about millions of dollars in positive economic impact to the City and to the Airport were all realizable goals.

“We extend heartfelt thanks to all of you who shared our lofty vision and who were willing to support this idea and project.  We really don’t know how to thank you enough.  Perhaps there is another City owned property somewhere on the island where the pushback from neighbors will not be overwhelming.

“To all of you….. thank you again and we hope you have a very Merry Christmas.”

Editor’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.

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9 Responses to FAA nixes thoughts of RV park on Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport property

  1. Kinney Leonard says:

    Well that settles that.

  2. Susan Henderson says:

    Why does this require city property ??

  3. Dave Lott says:

    Susan, it isn’t necessary to be located in the City, but Bob tried the same concept off of A1A in Yulee and it was opposed by adjacent landowners. I presume that Bob has tried to talk to the O’Connors about their property off AI Parkway by the airport that its only use I can tell has been to park the semis for the Concours event.

  4. Andrew Curtin says:

    I would surmise the FAA’s objection is based on incompatible residential development on airport property. If that is the case, I agree with their finding.

  5. Bob Allison says:

    Andrew, although slightly disappointed, I also agree with the FAA’s position on this. Residential use is incompatible with active and busy aviation. Susan, a project of this type does not necessarily have to be built on City property but unfortunately there are no suitable privately owned properties in close proximity to the City’s golf course. The most important aspect of our business plan has been to target the most expensive RVs where market studies indicate a high percentage of these visitors will be golfers. Keeping the City’s Golf Club open has been a drain on City taxpayers for decades. Our project will permanently eliminate the Club’s ongoing need for taxpayer subsidies and has the real potential to put the City’s Enterprise Fund in the black for the first time ever.

  6. Christine Corso says:

    Missing from this discussion are two significant issues. One is that access from the Parkway to the City’s Golf Course is through a quiet residential development on Via del Rey Road. The other is that by locating the development on property within the City, the permitting process would not include any payment of “Mobility Fees”. Mobility Fees are assessed and collected by Nassau County as part of its permitting process and are used to fund maintenance of roadways like the Parkway. The Airport Master Plan approved in September 2015 also referenced the 2014 County’s Mobility Plan which identified concerns regarding the Parkway to Buccaneer Trail and the Parkway to A1A. Both segments of the Parkway would have been used by the RV Resort Park’s guests.

  7. Bob Allison says:

    Christine, no one in their right mind would suggest accessing the golf course using Via del Rey Road or through any quiet residential neighborhood. The intent would be to access the City’s Golf Club by golf cart using only the cart paths on the existing golf course as the route. You may be aware there is a discussion planned at the City’s goal planning session for reducing the size of the golf course in an effort to make ends meet. This idea seems profoundly unfair to all those who have made significant real estate investments to live on a 27 hole golf course. I am not sure what might happen to abandoned fairways. But in any event, bringing enough to new golfers to the course to end the taxpayer’s subsidy of losses at the Club seems like a better idea. Believe it or not all that is required is just twenty additional golfers playing 18 holes a day for the Club to finally break even. If more play then it is reasonable to assume profits from the Club can off set some of the other losses to the Enterprise Fund particularly those from the City’s marina.

  8. Christine Corso says:

    Mr. Alison: Thank you for your response regarding the use of Via del Rey Road to access the City golf course. A couple of questions for you:
    Was it your intent to provide golf carts to the RV Resort Park guests? And although a moot point in view of the FAA decision, where is the cart path from Bailey Road via the Parkway to the City golf course?
    Also, what are your thoughts on the County’s approval of a 2015 ordinance requiring the assessment of “Mobility Fees” pursuant to 2014 Study which noted that the capacity on the Parkway is at, or nearing a critical level?

  9. Bob Allison says:

    Christine, we have always presumed arrangements could be made with the Golf Club for our patrons to have access to golf carts for access to the course….either ours or theirs. We held very preliminary discussions with Nathan Coyle, the Airport’s Manager, and Bobby Kozakoff, the Airport’s Assistant Manager, for a cart route which would have circled the existing ball fields and then used the existing road routes to the Animal Shelter to finally exit the Airport property and to cross the Parkway on to the golf course. We recognize this would not be perfect by any means but carts have crossed the Parkway for many years at Canopy Road without incident. The Mobility Study of 2014 clearly identified the mobility issues and needs to be county wide and not restricted to the unincorporated areas of Nassau County. I am no expert on “interlocal” agreements but I believe all new development in the county should be subject to the 2015 ordinance. I was not aware the study “noted that the capacity on the Parkway is at, or nearing a critical level.” Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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