Sturges Gets Indefinite Delay in Proposed Subdivision Changes

By Mike Lednovich

At the urging of Vice Mayor David Sturges, the Fernandina Beach City Commission did an abrupt about-face and agreed to suspend efforts to change sections of the city’s Land Development Code (LDC) that would have allowed property owners to more easily subdivide their parcels.

Sturges, who filed for re-election to the city commission Jan. 19, was the catalyst last September for pushing to change two sections of the LDC that address when a property can be subdivided into several parcels, thus allowing more housing to be built. Sturges was supported in that effort by Mayor Bradley Bean and Commissioner Darron Ayscue. Sturges claimed the LDC sections were not clear and violated the rights of property owners.

But during city commissioner comments Tuesday, Sturges introduced pausing the commission’s efforts to have the LDC sections changed. The city’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) has met six times to discuss the changes and the majority of members have steadfastly stated that the proposed changes would result in increased housing density that would ruin established neighborhoods.

“I want to bring up a heated topic across our boards. I believe after hearing the community concerns and the PAB is having a hard time, difficulty deciphering (LDC) 1.03.04 and 1.03.05 sections on the agenda that we had put forward as a commission, I believe we should pause the application for now,” Sturges said. “We can address these LDC codes at a different time. If anybody would be interested in pausing the application at this moment because it seems like we’ve had a lot of people that are wrestling with it for many hours and concerns in the community.”

After some discussion, Commissioner Chip Ross wanted clarification on the Sturges proposal.

“What you’re saying is to table the (LDC) issue for the foreseeable future and take it off the table of the planning board?” Ross asked.

“I’m saying, pausing it. They’re (PAB) having a hard time wrestling with it. Maybe now isn’t the right time to address it and maybe we wait for a different time and readdress it at another time,” Sturges said.

Commissioner Darron Ayscue said, “We’ve got a lot going on and I can agree with that. It will at least give me some opportunity to reach out to Kelly (Gibson) and see if there’s anything else that staff needs on that.”

There was no formal vote — just an informal 5-0 consensus.

Bean directed City Planning and Conservation Director Gibson to “pause the application at this time.”

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Chris244
Noble Member
Chris244(@chris244)
22 days ago

It’s Election Season!!!!

anna
Trusted Member
anna(@anna)
22 days ago
Reply to  Chris244

Exactly!!!

jfindlay
Noble Member
jfindlay(@jfindlay)
22 days ago

I suspect they only want to table this unpopular push for higher density until after the election season.

anna
Trusted Member
anna(@anna)
22 days ago
Reply to  jfindlay

Definitely!!!

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
22 days ago
Reply to  jfindlay

Yep…….but they still have to win their seats back (Sturges and Bean). August is approaching fast and to press on now (against the PAB and the citizens wishes) would doom their chances most likely. Bean has an opponent (Tony Morris). Sturges is still unopposed, I believe. If Sturges wins, he most likely will “unpause” the changes to the LDC and press on with a lot of time to accomplish his goals.

Bean already has the RYAM BioEthanol issue against his reelection chances so the LDC issues would just compound his problems.

I see Ayscue is already warming to the “center seat” with his comments to reach out to Kelly Gibson. Ha!

I’m glad everyone sees this for the bait and switch it probably is……we still need to make this THE issue in August….or it will be back. This will be an interesting election!

rconrad
Noble Member
rconrad(@conrad2k)
22 days ago
Reply to  jfindlay

Exactly my thought. He’ll say that he took it off the table to calm the opponents until the election is over, and the bring it up immediately afterwards. Voters need to remember where he and Bean really stand on important issues.

mmonzon
Active Member
mmonzon(@mmonzon)
22 days ago

A temporary victory for all of us who opposed this initiative. A permanent victory can only be obtained via the ballot. Sturges and Bean have filed for re-election and Ayscue for City Mayor. Sturges and Ayscue are currently unopposed. These commissioners need to be voted out!

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
22 days ago
Reply to  mmonzon

Ayscue is not up for reelection. Only he and Antun are eligible to be the mayor (and I don’t think Antun wants the job…….therefore Ayscue will be mayor by default).

But you are correct that Bean and Sturges are running and those elections will be critical.

Betsie Huben
Noble Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
22 days ago

Do not be fooled by this sudden pause. If these folks are back on the commission, this item will be back at the PAB in short order. Would also guess that changes might be made to the PAB as well to make sure the “wrestling” is eliminated. Praying for additional candidates to step up quickly…

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