Here’s the Latest Riverstone Tall Towers Offer

By Mike Phillips

The shroud of mystery has been lifted from the latest settlement proposal by Riverstone Properties in its quest to build a three-quarter-mile string of 85-foot tall towers on 50 prime acres of ocean-front land next to Amelia Island State Park.

With one glaring exception, there’s not much difference between this offer and the last one, which Nassau County authorities rejected last year.

The legal issues underlying the dispute are interpretations of the Bert Harris Private Property Protection Act and the county’s land use ordinance forbidding structures taller than 45 feet in unincorporated Nassau County.

It’s all about timing, with the developers arguing that the county imposed the height limit when Riverstone already owned the property with 85-foot towers in mind. (This is a plain-English description. If you want the legal language, here is the link: Riverstone Settlement Agreement

Here are the key points in the Riverstone offer, which will be discussed at the county commission meeting on April 24, starting at 6 p.m.

  • Riverstone can build 7-story towers within the 85-foot limit. The plan calls for 11 such towers. (Note: the height limit is measured not from the natural grade but from any site prep grade Riverstone creates.)
  • The plan calls for 150 luxury units.
  • Riverstone offers the same vegetation buffers as in the previous offer.
  • Riverstone offers some land for beach parking, restrooms and a connection to the Amelia Island Trail.
  • And here is the glaring exception: Upon signing, the county must pay Riverstone $250,000 to cover past legal costs!

“This is so utterly disappointing” said Lyn Pannone, President of the Amelia Tree Conservancy and community activist. “This settlement isn’t just the same settlement that literally hundreds of Nassau County residents protested against when this came up for approval last year, it is now even worse with the addition of a provision requiring the county to pay Riverstone’s legal fees. It’s mystifying to me why Riverstone thinks the county would agree to this in the face of such dissent from the community.”

There have been closed-door deliberations of county officials since the offer was made last week, but it is not known at this time if those deliberations have led to a decision. Community activists are encouraging interested citizens to attend the April 24 meeting and speak their minds. The issue is not on the agenda of the commission’s April 19 meeting (at 9 a.m.), but there is an opportunity on that agenda for non-agenda comments.

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Diana Herman
Diana Herman (@guest_68399)
10 months ago

Awful news! We must all attend the meetings on April 19th and April 24th!!we must protect our island!!

Lucy Peistrup
Lucy Peistrup(@lucyp74)
10 months ago
Reply to  Diana Herman

There are two bills in the state legislature right not poised to be passed that this behemoth of a company was likely just WAITING to be passed. Both mandate that if a party takes another to court for a case such as this they MUST pay for ALL LEGAL FEES, therefore putting EVERY grassroots group and citizen out if the fight against these HORRIBLE PEOPLE. Look up 1000 Friends of Fl and they have a WEALTH of info on this stuff and how to help battle it. I’m beyond disappointed in the fact that this Riverstone group refuses to RETAIN the mature trees for the sake of soul retention for hurricane protection not only for what they are building but for the surrounding properties! Why can’t a SINGLE stinking developer by mindful of the FUTURE ramifications of what the do for a change?!?!?!

Noble Member
10 months ago
Reply to  Lucy Peistrup

The problem is in Tallahassee. They are minions of the developers.

Bruce Doueck
Bruce Doueck (@guest_68403)
10 months ago

Riverstone Tall Towers proposal is absurd and is an assault on the nature and culture of Amelia Island!

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
10 months ago

this sounds like another bluff from Riverstone. The citizens of this county told the commissioners they had their back in a lawsuit against the developers, so let’s tell them NO again. Also, having a project “in mind” is not the same as having a plan presented to the county, so it is difficult to see how the Bert Harris act applies to them.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_68428)
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Bean’s modification of the presumptions and costs in Bret-Harris, before he left the Florida Senate was a dagger in the heart of Florida conservation. The devil is in these details.

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
10 months ago

Also, so much of it comes down to who we vote for, eh? We must support candidates who are truly environmentally- and conservation-minded, both locally and at the state level.

John Findlay
John Findlay(@jfindlay)
10 months ago

We need to hope that our county commissioners stand firm! This is not the settlement that any resident of Amelia Island wants, other than a developer. We can do better.

Bob Tankel
Bob Tankel(@bob-tankel)
10 months ago

This is an easy decision. Did the rights of the owner change after it was owned? If so it seems that Bert Harris applies. If not…it doesn’t

Margaret Kirkland
Margaret Kirkland(@kirkland-mrk)
10 months ago

This is clearly an environmental issue, in that we will be losing our storm water processing and protection from wind and erosion. The beach here is closed during parts of the year to protect migrating and nesting birds. Do we think they will adhere to state law on this? However, this is also an economic issue. Tourism constitutes the largest part of county revenue, and we know from the research that tourism on Amelia Island is based on our environment and the small-town character of Fernandina Beach. So, why are we abandoning our competitive edge in coastal Florida, when most of Florida has been destroyed by development and this is what both residents and visitors are seeking?

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_68421)
10 months ago

Utterly disappointing. That’s what happens when our N.E. Florida Reps (one of whom now sits in Congress) sell out.

Bill Fold
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
10 months ago

As the author writes, ”It’s all about timing, with the developers arguing that the county imposed the height limit when Riverstone already owned the property with 85-foot towers in mind.”
And as Mark Tomes says “having a project “in mind” is not the same as having a plan presented to the county.”
Technically, Mark’s statement is true and should be considered as a valid argument against Riverstone. However, the author”s statement is bogus. It’s not all about timing, it’s ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!! We all know, or should know this. Always is. Always has been.