By Taina Cristner
Most of us are very concerned about the impact this new potential development would have on the character of downtown Fernandina.
This proposal is a townhome community with shared streets and utilities. If this development is allowed to proceed, in violation of our LDC, it will set precedent and cause a domino effect of townhome communities in the entire R-2 zoned area, drastically changing the character of downtown Fernandina. We will no longer have that small town feel.
We are also very concerned about the impact to our historic homes. From the plans I have seen, the developer is proposing removing more than half the trees, then filling in much of the property with 2-3 feet of concrete, then building the streets, driveways and houses upon this platform of concrete.
We are extremely concerned about how that will impact the historic homes within feet of the project from a stormwater and flooding standpoint. From what I have heard, the city planning department has already allowed one historic home’s lot to be flooded due to overdevelopment next door. So we do not have confidence that the city planning department will prevent stormwater runoff from this project to affect our historic homes.
We are also concerned because the other townhome development downtown is now going into its sixth year of construction. We do not want to suffer through years of construction on a major development such as this proposed community.
Some of the historic homes have been in the same family for generations, and some neighbors have grown up in these homes. They have looked out at single family homes across the street for decades, and now the city is, illegally in my opinion, considering allowing a townhome community.
When I first purchased my home, I asked my realtor about an abandoned house on South Fourth Street and specifically asked if it could be torn down and replaced with multiple homes. I was assured that this could not happen because of our city’s laws.
The laws have not changed, it’s just that our city attorney is now choosing to ‘interpret’ the laws in a way that she cannot even seem to explain, and potentially allow high density development to destroy our downtown neighborhood.
We understand that things will change, and development will happen. We just ask that the city follow its own laws, which would prevent a townhome community on this site.