Update on A.L. Lewis house destruction in American Beach

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 14, 2020

Community confusion and outrage over the destruction of the A. L. Lewis house in American Beach continues.  The Fernandina Observer has obtained a copy of the County Building permit reproduced below, which clearly indicated that the work approved was for repairing and remodeling a residential structure:

While the home’s significance lies in its history and connection to A. L. Lewis, Adrienne Burke, Nassau County Director of Planning and Economic Opportunity, has advised that the home at 5466 Gregg Street was listed as a non-contributing structure on the National Register nomination due to alteration.

A meeting will be held next week to determine if the contractor exceeded the work authorized in the permit.

First Coast News provided a video report on the incident during their February 14, 2020 newscast at 6:00 p.m.  Click here to see their story.  Action News Jax has also reported on the story. 

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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Teri D. Springer
Teri D. Springer (@guest_56660)
4 years ago

“A meeting will be held next week to determine if the contractor exceeded the work authorized in the permit.”

Uh, demolition is NOT allowed under a permit to repair/remodel. IF, as Mr. Nelson is claiming, the structure was found to be beyond repair, the contractor is required to report that to the county and apply for a permit to demolish. I guess I don’t see why a meeting is needed to determine the obvious. Time to levy some hefty fines.

Of course, the house is gone so it’s moot. However, to avoid encouraging the “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” attitude, the lot should be now limited to having a home of the EXACT same dimensions as the original, constructed to prevent the owner from now erecting a 3 story mansion using as much of the lot as legally allowed (or not, as it’s my understanding he has a bit of a history of not following the law).

Chuck Hall
Chuck Hall (@guest_56667)
4 years ago

Thanks for the update.

Chris Clare
Chris Clare (@guest_56671)
4 years ago

It wouldn’t be the first time a contractor in Nassau County got a wink and nod and a minimal fine…if any…at all.

Mrs. D. Hunter
Mrs. D. Hunter (@guest_56676)
4 years ago

It is staggering how much latitude is implied in the permit’s “Scope of Work” section:

“Scope of Work: repairs to existing SFR and selective remodelling and expansion to remained of structure.”

The misspelling “remained” is particularly provocative taken together with “expansion to remained of structure.” Given the end result, how can one not suspect that the “Scope of Work” is deliberately vague enough to obtain approval for whatever eventualities arose on that job site that day?