Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 24, 2019
Fifty people turned out on April 24, 2019, for the first of four scheduled public meetings to review and assess how well the current Fernandina Beach Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) meets the needs of the community. The next session will be held on April 25 at the Peck Center from 5-7 p.m. In addition to Fernandina Beach City Commissioners, representatives from the School Board and Nassau County Planning Department also attended. Representatives from the Northeast Florida Regional Council facilitated the session.
Commonly called the EAR process (Evaluation And Review), this review occurs every seven years. Comprehensive planning is a process that determines community goals and aspirations in terms of community development. The result is called a comprehensive plan and both expresses and regulates public policies on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing. The State Comprehensive Plan is reviewed annually, and local plans are updated every five to seven years through the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) process. Through that process, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has the formal opportunity to evaluate proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan, which are based upon the evaluation and appraisal report, to ensure that they are consistent with DEP’s rules and policies.
Margo Moehring, Managing Director for Policy and Planning for the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC), kicked off the session by explaining that the city’s current Comp Plan, known as the 2030 Plan, will form the basis for recommendations for change to reflect changes in the law and citizen priorities. The new plan will become the 2040 Plan, designed to determine the future land use policies until the year 2040.
Moehring indicated that in addition to looking at changes in the community, the revised plan would need to reflect three legally mandated areas: the impact of seasonal population on the Future Land Use Map; a water supply facility work plan; and high risk flood areas.
Moehring introduced Senior Regional Planners Eric Anderson and Leigh Wilsey who joined her in facilitating small group discussions on the topics identified for the evening: land use, housing, schools and historic preservation.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 25 from 5-7 p.m. at the Peck Center. That session will cover economic development, the Port, and intergovernmental coordination. The public is invited to provide input.
Moehring invited the public to also provide input electronically through the NEFRC website. The two final sessions designed for public input will be held on April 29 and 30:
April 29, from 5-7 at the City Golf Course Club House
Conservation & Coastal Management
Recreation & Open Space
April 30, from 5-7 at the Municipal Airport Conference Room
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.