Fernandina Beach City Commission rings in 2019 with light agenda

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January  5, 2019

Even with a relatively light agenda for its first meeting of the New Year, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) convened for 2 hours on Wednesday, January 2.  They unanimously approved a 5-item Consent Agenda with no discussion, approved an amendment to a long-term lease agreement with Amelia River Excursions, Inc., and via an appeal remanded the denial of a request to demolish a historic building back to the Historic District Council (HDC) for further consideration of additional information from the applicant.

They also listened to two presentations and discussed the Evaluation and Review (EAR) process that the city will conduct this year.

360 Degree Feedback

Cindy Jacoby

Cindy Jacoby of Biz Help Consulting provided a presentation of City Manager Dale L. Martin’s Multi-Rater Assessment (a five-year requirement to maintain his professional certification by the International City/County Management Association).   The assessment was based on survey input from city commissioners as well as some members of the community and Martin’s subordinates.  This exercise is designed to provide the City Manager with “360 Degree Feedback.”

The assessment is not a performance evaluation per se.  Rather it is designed to allow the manager to compare how perceptions of his performance in several key areas are viewed by different segments of his constituency.

Jacoby will also facilitate the FBCC’s annual strategic planning session later this month.

Consent Agenda

The Consent Agenda included three sets of minutes needing approval as well as four releases of property liens.  The release of liens reflects the city’s active efforts to enforce codes and improve properties throughout the city.  Owners of the following properties, under the watchful eye of the Code Enforcement Department and the Code Enforcement and Review Board, have remedied deficiencies and paid fines:

  • 1016 Broome Street
  • 1504 Broome Street
  • 422 S. 13thTerrace
  • 818 San Fernando Street

HDC Appeal

Aerial view of 224 N. 2nd Street and surrounding properties.
224 N. 2nd St.

Architect John Cotner, agent for property owners David and Kim Page, appeared before the FBCC to appeal a decision of the Historic District Council to deny the Pages’ application to demolish an historic building located at 224 North 2ndStreet (HDC Case 2018-43).  The property is not located within the downtown Historic District, but it is located in the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), over which the HDC also has jurisdiction.

City Attorney Tammi Bach explained that the FBCC could not hear new evidence, but rather had to decide whether in making its decision the HDC afforded the applicant due process, applied the correct law, and/or based its decision on competent, substantial evidence.

Cotner explained that the HDC had requested additional information from the applicant during their hearing.  When he requested additional time to provide the information, which was not readily available, the HDC would not grant a continuance and voted to deny the application.

The FBCC ruled that in this case the HDC had not afforded the applicant due process and remanded the case back to the HDC for consideration of new evidence.

Time for EAR once more

Planning Manager Kelly Gibson

At the end of the meeting and at the request of Vice Mayor Len Kreger commissioners briefly discussed the timetable and rollout of the upcoming Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR).  A review of the requirements and planning for completion of the EAR as required by 163.3191 Florida Statutes states in relevant part “at least once every seven years each local government must evaluate its comprehensive plan to determine if plan amendments are necessary to reflect changes in state requirements and notify the state land planning agency of fits determination.”

If the EAR indicates that changes to the Comprehensive Plan are necessary they will be due September 1, 2019. The City is presently negotiating with the Northeast Florida Regional Council to contract the EAR review.

During a brief presentation city Planning Manager Kelly Gibson explained that there would be significant opportunity for citizen input and Planning Advisory Board review this winter and spring.  Commissioners discussed ways to solicit community input.

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