By Samuel Jefferson Kennard
I am shocked and dismayed to hear that Amelia Baptist Church wants to become a property developer. There seems to be no limit to poorly conceived and egregious high-density property development proposals on Amelia Island. Theirs is the latest.
Amelia Baptist Church is proposing to build a 24-unit waterfront condominium complex on 2.5 acres of 10 acres that they have acquired. Specifically, they are asking the Nassau County Development Review Committee to rezone 2.5 acres, presently zoned Residential Single Family, to Planned Unit Development (PUD). That is high-density residential zoning.
The only traffic access and egress for residents of these proposed 24 condominium units will be Shadow Woods Lane and the already highly trafficked, congested and dangerous Buccaneer Trail, Fletcher Avenue and Gerbing Road roundabout intersection. The proposed 24-unit condominium complex density only exacerbates this existing traffic engineering dilemma.
Our home is adjacent to the Amelia Baptist Church. During a conversation in our living room with Neil Helton, Ph.D., Pastor and Elder of Amelia Baptist Church, I told him the reasons we purchased the land and built near the church. It was the “peace and tranquility.” He assured me that the church desires to “be a good neighbor.”
Now, they want to build a 24-unit condominium complex virtually next door. We were never notified of their plan. We were blindsided. This calls into question the motives, goodwill and integrity of the church leadership.
Additionally, there are tax status implications of a tax-exempt church engaging in for-profit real estate development activities. And, finally, there are anticipated negative impacts to the investment values of nearby single-family homes, in some cases the homeowner’s largest single investment.
I have discussed the Amelia Baptist Church’s property rezoning plan for development of a high-density condominium complex with the church’s neighbors. Our neighborhood all agree that it is intrusive, inconvenient and undesirable. Therefore, I urge the Nassau County Development Review Committee to reject this egregious and poorly conceived rezoning proposal.
Technically, it appears that the church would sell the 2.5 acres to the developer, believed to be Scott Road Partners (Artisan), if the rezone is approved — and then Artisan would develop the condominiums. –Editor