TRC advises applicants on next steps in moving projects forward

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
December 14, 2018 11:18 a.m.

The Technical Review Committee (TRC) of the City of Fernandina Beach met for three hours on December 13, 2018 and conducted 7 pre-application discussions for potential new or redevelopment projects, many of which involve a change in use.

TRC committee listens to Mike McCluskey and Chip Sasser (far right) present plans for former BuyGo establishment. TRC members at the table (l-r):Andre Desilet (Stormwater), Jason Higginbotham (Fire Rescue), Jake Platt (Planning), Rex Lester (Maintenance), John Mandrick (Utilities), Don Kukla (Building), Michelle Forstrom (Code Enforcement), Sal Cumella (Historic Preservation Planner).

The TRC reviews applications and provides compliance reports for site plans, rezoning, amendments to the Land Development Code, preliminary subdivision plats, final subdivision plats, and amendments to previously issued local development orders.

TRC Membership includes, at a minimum, a representative from each City department that must ultimately sign-off on projects before building permits can be issued.  City Planner Jake Platt coordinates the staff committee.

In conducting the pre-application discussions described below, city staff stressed to applicants the need to engage services of architects, engineers and design professionals to help determine requirements for sewer, water and fire protection as well as impact fees.  The city has adopted new policies for redevelopment that require dumpsters to be located on private property, not city right-of-ways (ROW).  Also, the city is looking to reduce concrete and asphalt surfaces that have been improperly placed in city ROWs over the years.  Developers must also be mindful of ADA requirements for both parking and access to buildings.

The cases presented below will require a formal application incorporating city guidance and recommendations before they can proceed to permitting.

Cotner’s conceptual rendering of building proposed for 9th & Date Streets

South 9thand Date Streets

Architect John Cotner presented plans on behalf of his client, EcoWater Systems, which proposes to add a multi-tenant commercial building on a 100×100-foot lot behind their existing business at 330 South 8thStreet.  The area is zoned Multi-Use.  Cotner explained that initially there would be two rental units and EcoWater storage in the building, which will be designed to provide for future growth if business warrants.


Proposed location for new juice bar

1016 S. 14thStreet

Guilherme Camargo informed the TRC that he is considering opening a juice bar that would serve smoothies and protein shakes along with salads and sandwiches in the space formerly occupied by H&R Block.  His application constitutes a change of use within a commercially zoned mall. Camargo indicated that his establishment would be take-out, not dine-in.



1214 Beech Street

Bruce Palmer expressed an interest in possibly purchasing the commercially zoned property that once held Captain Van’s Seafood and the Breakaway Café.  Although most recently the building has been used for retail, Palmer’s intent would be to change its use back to that of a restaurant.  Due to the age of the building and code changes that have occurred since the original restaurant permit, work needs to be done to bring the building up to code.  Depending on what type of restaurant might open in the building—ice cream and hot dog carry out or sit down food service–different requirements would be triggered.

Site proposed for concrete recycling facility

3169 Bailey Road

Phillip Feora, United Brothers Development Corporation, asked about requirements for operating a temporary (1-2 years) concrete recycling facility on land once used by Nassau County.  The land is currently zoned industrial.  Feora said that the facility would accept broken concrete, with or without rebar, as well as broken asphalt for free from the city and builders to be recycled into finer material that could be used for driveways, landscaping, etc.  Their primary client would be Crane Island development.  Feora indicated that the company would be low profile and only operate during daylight hours. They would not require lighting that could interfere with airport operations. They intended to clean the site by digging up and processing concrete already buried on the property and would leave a clean site when their business departed.

22 South 8thStreet

Mike McCluskey and Chip Sasser, representing CMR Island Properties, presented change of use plans for the former site of Buy-Go.  With the exception of new signs and dumpster relocation, there will be no exterior changes to the existing building.  They plan to provide for a 40-seat restaurant and a grocery store within the space.  La Surena Mexican Store would move into the space from their current location at 528 South 8thStreet. McCluskey indicated that future plans might involve adding a beer garden to the part of the building closer to South 9thStreet.  This commercially zoned property is located in the Historic District.

Site of current equipment rental enterprise at 400 S. 8th St.

400 South 8thStreet

Roger Morenc presented his proposal to move his Marlin & Barrel craft distillery from its current location on South 2ndStreet to the site currently occupied by a rental company.  The building’s current owner has been cited by the city for numerous code violations. Morenc said that he has engaged engineers to investigate the existing building on the site to determine if it would be more cost effective to repair the building or build new.

He said that he is looking to achieve greater efficiencies in his distilling process with the latest equipment available in addition to increasing his visibility.  His plan is to provide a tasting room, but not a bar or restaurant.

817 South 8thStreet

Chris Souza proposes to open a dog grooming establishment in the Pelican Palms mall in what was once a trophy store.  This would be an offshoot of the Fairy Tails Mobile Grooming business.


The TRC convenes at 9:00 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month in Fernandina Beach City Hall Commission Chambers.  Agendas are advertised in advance of each meeting.  Meetings are open to the  public.  For more information, contact TRC Staff Coordinator Jake Platt via email [email protected]

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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