New Wrinkles in RV Site Plan: Townhouses and City Annexation

By Mike Phillips

The developer of a proposed RV park on Nassau County land on Sadler Road has temporarily set aside his part of legal action with neighbors opposing the project and come up with an alternative: asking Fernandina Beach to annex the property and approve building townhouses on it.

It clearly is a serious proposal. Property owner Ben Buchanan – who owns Intact Construction Management, LLC — has had Gillette & Associates draw up highly detailed plans for the development, as well as having a traffic study and an environmental study prepared.

A centerpiece of the plan is tree mitigation. The site now is heavily shaded by 35 mature live oak trees, along with a few other arboreal species. The plan calls for removal of 20 live oak trees and preservation of 15 live oaks. It includes the planting of nine small understory trees. Three of the trees marked for removal are considered to be in poor health.

Entry to the 12 townhouse garages would be via 11 driveways off Ryan Road and one off Sadler Road. The preserved live oaks would be in a tree protection area in the townhouse backyards.

For this alternative plan to work, Buchanan would have to:

1 – Win city annexation of the property, which would require city commission approval.

2 – Submit the plan for formal review by city staff and citizen boards.

3 — Get the the future land use map designation changed from commercial to residential.

4 — Get zoning changed to R1, R2 or R3.

5  – Answer inevitable questions about reduction of the city’s tree canopy plus neighborhood concerns, such as traffic patterns.

6  – Get city commission approval for the project.

He had been rejected in negotiations with the city for city services when the plan was for an RV park and already has county commission approval (by a 3-2 vote) for the RV project — but it could face lengthy litigation delays from neighbors and environmental groups.

The parcel is 1.38 acres and rectangular. One short side faces Sadler Road, and one long side feeds most of the driveways onto Ryan Road.

The townhouses are grouped in twos in the plan.

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Mark Tomes
Noble Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
4 months ago

Conservation versus housing is a tricky balance. Taking land out of development increases its value for housing, and costs go up. Although state Republicans have preempted local laws mandating affordable housing, this is a great opportunity to offer some help to those who work on the island, but cannot afford to live here.

Noble Member
4 months ago

Nothing in this says it would be affordable housing. I seriously doubt it would be. AFFORDABLE HOUSING no longer exists in this county DUE TO THE RAMPANT GREED. While I can appreciate everyone needing to earn money, it IS possible to build a home AND do so without making $50,000 per house. However, these contractors around here aren’t willing to “sacrifice” to do that. It’s pathetic. They would rather rape and pillage the land and move on to the next project.

Dave L
Trusted Member
Dave L(@dave-l)
4 months ago
Reply to  lucyp74

Certainly on the Island affordable/workforce housing development is not possible due to the cost of land. Why should a developer “sacrifice” unless the city/county is also willing to sacrifice in giving some financial incentives (such as they do for Habitat for Humanity housing) to help lower the cost of building and making the property available at an affordable price point.

Active Member
4 months ago

 Mark Tomes What do you mean? “Taking land out of development increases its value for housing and costs go up”? Please make sense of this?? If someone owns a piece of property they have the right to develop it within the constraints of the law.  lucyp74 this doesn’t mean “RAMPANT GREED”. If you owned a parcel of land like that you’d be looking to make some money with it also. Expecting people to be philanthropic and donate their land to conservation is not typical. Someone has been paying taxing on a lot that doesn’t provide any value to them. It’s up to the city and county to say “no” to ridiculous requests from builders. End of story. And it’s our responsibility to elect people to make sure building codes are well-written to prevent neighboring areas from being effected by development. If you want this preserved as a park or something, then do the work — start fundraising to buy the land from the developer with the goal of donating it to the city/county.

Trusted Member
4 months ago

On the surface this seems to be a step in the right direction. And a good start in my opinion. I don’t live in close proximity to this proposed development, but it seems as if it’s a better solution than an RV park. I know I’d prefer townhomes to an RV park nestled up to my neighborhood anytime. I’d also prefer residential to commercial next to my neighborhood. The property owner has been paying taxes on an empty lot, so now wants to recoup back some of his investment. It will be developed. The question has been, what? The one sticking issue is with the amount of oaks the plan calls for removing. Work on that to a compromise and I think it can move forward. There may be other issues to discuss once the drawings are released. Another benefit would be its inclusion into the City. Since the city receives a negligible amount of sales tax, any additional property tax would be welcomed.