Commentary — Townhouses: A View From the Historic District


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.

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Lucy Peistrup
Lucy Peistrup(@lucyp74)
1 year ago

Very sad that “interpretations” of current law are allowing such atrocities. The problem seems to lie in the fact that the local government officials have zero concern for the citizens and more concern for the coffers of the city piggy bank. When I was a contractor for a short time, I recall the permitting process in the city being somewhat more “cumbersome” than the county due to the tree ordinances and such. I guess they just breeze past that nowadays?? I preferred that, though. It meant they were doing their job. Very disappointing.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_66930)
1 year ago
Reply to  Lucy Peistrup

All of us in Florida are now at risk, and it’s not the fault of local government.

Taina Christner
Taina Christner(@taina)
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Warner

Robert, From my understanding our Land Development Code protects us from this, if we follow it. We must ask our City Commissioners to follow our laws!

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_66905)
1 year ago

Think Joni…..pave it over and put up a parking lot……..20 pounds into a two-pound bag. Sounds like business as usual at least from what this transplant has seen over the past 12 years. Remember seven plus story Towers for the South End? Sounds along the same lines.

Can’t The Powers That Be Just Let It Be? The Goose that laid the Golden Egg named Fernandina is on life support…..

Steven Frost Traver
Steven Frost Traver (@guest_66911)
1 year ago

where is this project to be located? I’d like to drive by to understand better the impact it would have.

Taina Christner
Taina Christner(@taina)
1 year ago

Steven, the project is proposed for downtown, between 3rd and 4th streets and Ash and Beech Streets. The 3rd Street side faces townhomes, but the 4th street side faces the Historic District single family homes.

Bill Fold
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
1 year ago

Is there not 5 people in this town that care about the future of Fernandina and its citizens? It’s disgusting to read about the obvious corruption of the existing city administration. There has got to be 5 or 6 people that believe in the beauty, the history, the charm and character, and last but not least the existing LDC!!! Hopefully these people will step up and run for commissioners and city attorney in the very near future before the cretins in office now destroy Fernandina forever.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_66929)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Fold

Corruption of the election process by big money and vested interests, Bill. City government works as a referee. Look at the OHPA and Rayonier, and Westrock.

Margaret Kirkland
Margaret Kirkland(@kirkland-mrk)
1 year ago

The small town character (sense of place) of the city is critical for its economy. This is the second most important reason people move here and visit the island (after the environment). After we destroy this character, and we are well on the way to that now, who will pay the city and county taxes. Who will care–we will be just like thousands of small towns across the country that have been destroyed by greed and false assumptions regarding the inevitability and desirability of growth. What about character, charm and quality of life?

Taina Christner
Taina Christner(@taina)
1 year ago


1 year ago

You get what you vote for or you didn’t vote. Or you need to run for public office.

Hope Cannon
Hope Cannon (@guest_66992)
1 year ago

Definitely, no!