Conserve Amelia
May 6, 2022


UPDATE ON 50 ACRES Riverstone Properties is again seeking to develop the 50-acre tract adjacent to the state park at the south end of our island. The company wants to construct eleven condominium towers, each 85 feet high and seven stories.
Last year county commissioners passed an ordinance limiting the height of any new construction to 45 feet. At that meeting, Riverstone’s attorney. threatened to sue if no more towers were allowed.
Riverstone gave the required 90 day notice on March 7 before filing suit challenging the height limit. Riverstone asserted they had been damaged by $27 million when the height restriction was imposed. The calculation of damages appears intended only to scare the public and commissioners worried about the county’s liability. It considers no alternate development options other than highrises.
Concerned citizens sought an independent opinion from Gray Robinson, a Florida law firm with land use and Bert Harris Act expertise. The firm was asked to provide a realistic assessment of county liability. Gray Robinson summarized its opinions in a legal memorandum given to the commissioners and the county attorney. They concluded that, “In our opinion Riverstone’s Notice of Claim should be viewed as a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt by a property owner looking to cash in on a hypothetical development possibility at Nassau County’s expense.”
Riverstone claims that the property was worth $72 million if 85-foot condos could be built, but only $45 million if those condo towers are limited to 45 feet. That difference is their claim for $27 million. However, if developed as approximately 40 high-end, single-family residences, it could be worth $72 million. Prominent local real estate agents endorse that opinion.
We urge the commission to get an additional outside legal opinion from a firm experienced in these matters. There is nothing to lose by doing so. The citizens and voters deserve it.
Fernandina Observer Update:  Information obtained from Conserve Amelia Now mentioned that on  May 11, the county will either post a possible settlement offer between the county and Riverstone or a notice of Public Hearing for May 23.  Cindy Jackson, Fernandina Observer reporter, asked Taco Pope, county manager, and Denise May, to comment on this information.  The county attorney declined to comment on settlement talks or a possible public hearing.  According to May, “This issue is still pending and taking its course pursuant to the statutory timelines.  We do not comment further on threatened or pending litigation items.”
How You Can Help:
ASAP Please let our county commissioners know that the construction of eleven condo towers is unacceptable. We do not want to be over developed like Miami Beach or any other over developed, coastal region. By not obtaining another outside, independent legal opinion they are bowing down without a fight.
The best way to let your county commissioners know your feelings is via email and phone calls to all of them using the following:
John Martin– 904 570-2594
Aaron Bell 904 451-4094
Jeff Gray– 904 570-1946
Tom Ford– 904 451-0766
Klynt Farmer– 904 570-1357
Denise May- (county attorney)
Taco Pope – (county manager)
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Lyn Pannone
Lyn Pannone(@lyn-pannone)
6 months ago

Nobody wants Amelia Island to be overdeveloped yet we move in that direction everyday. For the commission not to consider alternate ways to build on the 50 acres just buckles under to developers. Stand up for the voters and citizens. This property owner will lose nothing by developing as single family homes instead of highrises.

Jimbo Harrison
Jimbo Harrison (@guest_64955)
6 months ago
Reply to  Lyn Pannone

You are welcome to approach the developer and purchase the property, then you can do whatever you want with it. All the NIMBY’s could pool together and buy the rest of the undeveloped land on the island.

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_64947)
6 months ago

It’s called unaccountable greed.

If the County Manager right on down knew~~really knew that their “job”(remember those?) was to represent the best interests of the citizen taxpayers(i.e. the people paying their salaries or if not salaries the perks they enjoy maybe~~just maybe they’d represent us but no Folks sit back and wait…..a “deal” is in the makings. a “compromise” anything to step around standing up and saying “no the people have spoken you bought this property knowing full well the limits on development”. We need an economic depression to stop the wholesale paving over of what once was a jewel called Amelia Island….just is it’s too late.

I continuously find it incredible after 12 plus years of watching “local” politics that the powers that be are so easily BS’ed and yet it’s always “Them Northerners” as the excuse of development. And yet failure to control the development destruction goes on and on……..Remember, the destruction of numerous wetlands, The “oups we knocked down trees(remember Harris Tetters gas station corner before the roundabout?, Dunes of Amelia clear cut, Shell Cove 50 lbs in a 2 pound bag), the $4 million Airport Welcome Center many thought a waste(Have you seen the lines of people going in there?~~not) A multi million dollar fire station at the airport because of a lack of two female designated bathrooms at an existing fire station that could have been retrofitted for under $400,000.00?(Yes Gents you fix what you have before blowing millions on a shinney new toy). Oh, stay tuned next we’ll be in line for a multimillion dollar bond issue for the new Amelia Island Trash Mahall as City employees need a new building. We the Taxpayers continue as Fools on Parade. Just get back to work and write those checks!!

Just like the old song says, “put up a parking lot”. Of course we need another development! More fast food places, another grocery store so the Gizzionaries can ride their golf cards to pick up their Thursday Nite prime rib specials! What you want open space? Why? We(I) just do not know what I need so I need Gobernment Employees with verbal deliria spewing Gobernment Rules meanwhile as the Band plays on…..the island sinks. Sad but true but we do have our memories. In the end once again The Big Money wins and the taxpayers get screwed. The Ameriikan Way.

Richard Grice
Richard Grice (@guest_64951)
6 months ago

It further appears in my opinion (i) that the County is unwilling to engage its own appraiser to determine if enforcement of its own height ordinance actually causes the diminution in value that Riverstone claims, (ii) in this same connection, that the County is unwilling to consider the value of the property if developed as an upscale single-family residence neighborhood that would be consistent with the surrounding area and (iii) the County is using the “I can’t comment” cloak of litigation to circumvent normal public notice and comment procedures and attempting to effect “contract zoning” via a settlement agreement. It feels like the County is abandoning its citizens in favor of expediency.

Rebecca Raymond
Rebecca Raymond (@guest_64958)
6 months ago

Has there ever been an environmental impact study done on this development? Eleven towers with seven stories vs. single family homes…the traffic impact alone is unimaginable for this island!

John rasmussen
John rasmussen (@guest_65020)
6 months ago

That is what we get for being a top rated overrun tourist designation. The Tourism board Is advertising our island nationally. I have friends on both coasts telling me that they have seen advertisements for AI. The influx of people can be measured by the astounding number of new hotels, construction on every sq inch on the island and a constant stream of applications for more buildings 85 feet in height. Why not 200 feet. We need more people and traffic. Deny the application and counter sue the developer for harassment, intimidation and distress.

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