Fernandina Beach PAB sets accelerated work schedule for summer months

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 10, 2018


The Planning Advisory Board (PAB) of the City of Fernandina Beach held its first televised session on May 9, 2018 at City Hall.  There were no cases on the agenda, but PAB members and city Planning Manager Kelly Gibson devoted the 90-minute meeting to reviewing and prioritizing PAB tasks for the summer months.  Due to the volume of work on their plate, PAB meetings may increase frequency to twice monthly, plus subcommittee meetings, all of which will be publicly noticed. The next meeting has been set for May 23, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall Commission Chambers.

PAB members (l-r): Jenny Schaffer, Wayne Peterson, Greg Roland, Chair Mark Bennett, David Beal, Frank Santry. Donna Lewis was absent.
City of Fernandina Beach Planning Manager Kelly Gibson

Gibson presented the PAB with lists of tasks representing previously identified priorities of the Board and added tasking from the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC). After considerable discussion, PAB members identified the highest priority as downtown issues, to include four specific items:

  1. Use of first floor of buildings in Central Business District (C-3)
  2. Parking requirements
  3. Central Business District density
  4. Traffic circulation

PAB member Frank Santry, who will lead this particular issue, expressed his opinion that there is immediacy to addressing the first floor use of Centre Street buildings in light of fears that residential use will supplant commercial and professional use. He suggested that residential buildings might be built on currently vacant lots on Centre Street and that existing buildings might be torn down to be replaced with residential buildings. While other PAB members did not appear to share the immediacy of his concern in this regard, the consensus of the PAB was that there have been sufficient problems identified in the downtown area to create a broader category and make it a priority.

Central Business District (C-3) indicated in brown on this partial zoning map of Fernandina Beach.

Santry agreed to survey existing buildings in the Central Business District to determine current use, beginning with Centre Street and moving to the numbered streets north and south of Centre Street.

PAB Chair Mark Bennett suggested formation of a subcommittee to tackle the downtown concerns and to provide data and research to formulating changes to address the identified problems. Wayne Peterson and Jenny Schaffer expressed interest in serving on this subcommittee.  Bennett advised that any/all PAB members might be part of this subcommittee, but that meetings must be publicly noticed.

Planning manager Kelly Gibson suggested that other PAB members take the lead on the remaining tasks. Chair Bennett agreed, citing the success of such an approach in previous times of heavy workload.

The following topics and their lead PAB members are provided below:

  • Accessory dwellings – David Beal and Mark Bennett
  • Planned Unit Developments (PUD) – David Beal and Mark Bennett
  • Townhouses – Jenny Schaffer and Mark Bennett
  • Archaeology – Greg Roland and city staff
  • Building Height and mechanical structures – Jenny Schaffer and Greg Roland

City staff will take the lead on minor amendments to the code and Comprehensive Plan, Historic District Council Appeals and the Certificate of Approval matrix, and building height of structures on flood plains.

To keep abreast of developing PAB recommendations regarding any of these topics, check the city’s website for meeting notices and agendas.

The next PAB Regular Meeting is scheduled for June 13, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. in Fernandina Beach City Hall Commission Chambers.  Regular business will continue and cases will be heard in addition to reports on broader topics of PAB research.