By Mike Lednovich
The Tringali property owners have filed an appeal in the First District Court of Appeal challenging a Nassau Circuit Court judge’s ruling that the city commission of Fernandina Beach acted improperly in allowing developers to subdivide parcels in order to accommodate townhouses. City Attorney Tammi Bach notified city commissioners of the decision in an email stating: “I was informed that the property owners of the Tringali property are going to file an appeal of Judge Roberson’s December 27, 2023 order granting the Petition for Writ of Certiorari. The appeal is due today, so I will forward the appeal when it is filed with the Court. As a respondent in this case, the City will file a Notice of Joinder with the property owners, which means the City is tagging along on the appeal. There will be no lengthy legal briefs or arguments drafted by the City at this time. All City defense costs are paid by the City’s insurer, PGIT. If the appeal is successful in overturning Judge Roberson’s decision, the case will be remanded back to the trial court for a new hearing.” Last December, Circuit Court Judge Eric Roberson ruled there is “no plausible explanation for the City’s erroneous interpretation” of the Fernandina Beach Land Development Code (LDC) and said a proposed plan for eight townhouses on the Tringali property on South Third Street can only be considered by the city’s Board of Adjustment. In June of last year, neighbors of the Tringali property filed the petition for the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court to quash a city commission vote that allowed a developer to build townhouses on the property. The property is surrounded by the historic district. The neighbors, Merry Coalson, David Coalson and Taina Christner submitted the petition and formed an advocacy group called Stop the Domino Effect. They are now named respondents in the appeals case. Roberson said in his original order, “The result of the Commission’s vote is that 8 parcels were combined into one lot and approved for building a multi-family structure. That action, per the Land Development Code, must be approved by the Board of Adjustment. Deference is not warranted where there is no plausible explanation for the City’s erroneous interpretation.” The judge ordered that, “The Petition for Writ of Certiorari is GRANTED. The vote of the City Commission is quashed and this matter is remanded for a vote by the Board of Adjustment.” Ron Flick’s Compass Group is the developer of the townhouse project. Asked for comment, Flick said, “At this time we are seeking due process, offering no further comment at this point in time.” Last May, after a nearly four-hour quasi-judicial hearing on the matter, Mayor Bradley Bean, Vice Mayor David Sturges and Commissioners Darron Ayscue and James Antun voted to approve the plat/replat application without citing examples of “competent substantial evidence” that it adhered to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and LDC.