How Citizens Say OPHA Should Sell Lots

After hearing input in August from more than 40 citizens about the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) plan to sell residential lots in the northeastern end of the historic district, the OHPA commissioners will take up the issue at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Peck Center, 516 10th St.

Here is what citizens emphasized at the August listening session.

Any lots sold must have iron-clad deed restrictions mandating:

  • All lots have a 50-foot minimum width for a detached, single-family home.
  • Lot orientation should be consistent with existing homes.
  • The parcel at southeast Dade Street and North Third should be platted to hold only two homes like the ones that were demolished after the port bought those lots.

Citizens expressed encouragement that OHPA Chairman Danny Fullwood has publically expressed many times that the lots will be sold with restrictions that are consistent with Fernandina Beach Historic District Council guidelines.

Some other ideas that came out of the OPHA-sponsored listening session:

  • Sell one parcel to obtain capital for expenses and use remaining funds to plant a thick buffer along Dade Street to mitigate truck impact on the neighborhood and to beef up vegetation and tree canopy on other for-sale parcels.
  • Revisit the idea advanced by City Commissioner Chip Ross to do a tax swap with the city on one parcel with lush plantings of mature trees, allowing the parcel to be placed in zoning for a passive public greenspace that can never be developed.
  • Work only with a developer/builder (preferably local) who is experienced with working with the historic district council and the city’s planning department.

Citizens expressed several worries:

  • High concern that there would be any possibility of townhomes.
  • Concern that an out-of-area developer would seek to break the deed restrictions and seek zoning changes for higher density or put up structures that are inconsistent with the historic district.
  • Concern that the wooded lot on the north end of Third might lose all its old-growth trees.
  • Desire to save the historic portion of the customs house even if a new facility is added.

(Thanks to Tammi Kosack, a historic district council member, for assistance with this summary.)

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Tammi Kosack
Trusted Member
Tammi Kosack(@tammi-kosack)
5 months ago

The OHPA/community meeting was energetic despite the impending hurricane. Discussions, comment sheets,  presentations and flip charts made it abundantly clear to the 3 OHPA Commissioners present that if these lots get sold for development it is imperative to have deed restrictions—which run with the land in perpetuity—placed upon them to ensure compatibility with the neighborhood.

We’ve been burned before by the hollow promises of developers saying one thing and then building another, because they were able to, based upon code interpretation or re-zoning.

Spelling out the restrictions on the deed will eliminate this possibility and will ensure these parcels, if developed, will follow the rhythm of the Historic District and harken back to what was previously built on them.

Show up to hear OHPA’s discussion on this: 6:00 Wednesday 9/13 at the Peck Center. Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting.