By Mike Phillips
June 9, 2022
Relationships between Fernandina Beach and the Port have been rather tense in recent years, so this year the city put together what’s called a local bill that makes changes in law just for one locality.
It specified that:
- Any expansion of Port facilities into the Downtown Historic District is forbidden.
- Requiring that the Port develop its properties in compliance with state law and with the city’s and county’s comprehensive plans.
- Requiring that taxes resulting from private use of Port Authority-owned property should be paid by the private entity, not the Port.
The bill had strong support in the Legislature thanks to lobbying by city leaders, residents and State Sen. Aaron Bean and State Rep. Cord Byrd. That brought Port negotiators back to the table in a friendlier mood.
After the bill was filed, the city and the Port drew up an interlocal contract in which the Port agreed to all the city’s needs. (Though the tax issue is in court and therefore is unresolved.) The bill was not pursued because the interlocal contract is binding.
Bottom line: no more can the Port assert that it can impinge on the Historic District however it wishes.