City Commission meeting – CRA – Forward Fernandina Bank Loan – City Charter Revisions

Submitted by

Suanne Z. Thamm, Reporter-News Analyst

City Hall Hutchins Final 3
City Hall
Photo Courtesy of Charlie Hutchins

After almost three solid hours devoted to the future of the downtown the Fernandina Beach City Commission turned its attention to other items on their February 5, 2013 agenda, even if just to table or postpone most items to future meetings.

Community Redevelopment Area (CRA)

At 9:05 p.m. Mayor Sarah Pelican opened the public hearing on Resolution 2013-19, which called for resetting the CRA base year from 2005 to 2013, and extending the CRA term to 40 years.  Louis Goldman, a member of the CRA Advisory Committee (CRAAC), reminded the commission that it had just created the CRAAC and charged it to come up with recommendations for generating development.  He said that the issues covered in this resolution were critical to the work of that committee.  Commissioner Ed Boner agreed that this would be a good time to reset the base year to take advantage of currently low property assessments that were positioned to rise with an improved real estate market, thereby generating more revenue for the CRA.  Commissioner Pat Gass indicated that she did not have enough information to vote on the issue, and Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett agreed.  Pelican joined Gass and Corbett in a motion to table this item to the first regular meeting in March.

City Manager Joe Gerrity asked those commissioners who believed that they needed more information to identify their needs more specifically so that staff could respond in a timely manner.

Forward Fernandina Bank Loan

Gerrity admitted to some confusion on this matter.  Originally, it had been placed on the agenda by Commissioner Gass, who wanted to discuss returning the borrowed money.  But Commissioner Boner had expressed interest in expanding the discussion to consider revisiting the priorities for spending money under the Forward Fernandina strategic plan.  Boner added that he wanted a full discussion of the priorities for spending this money under the existing plan to determine which if any objectives were supported by the current commission.  He agreed to support the decision of the commission with respect to such prioritization, but he also wanted the commission to consider possibly reprogramming some of the money toward new priorities, such as the animal shelter.  Commissioner Arlene Filkoff had prepared an overview of the strategic plan, its development and status.  She also wanted an opportunity to present this to the commission and the public.

The consensus was that the expanded topic needed to be discussed in a workshop setting.  Gerrity agreed to set this for early next week.

Editor’s Note:  The workshop to discuss the Forward Fernandina bank loan is scheduled for Monday, February 11, at 3:00 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers.

City Charter Revisions

Commissioner Gass had asked for a discussion on moving forward with ballot language to increase the terms of commissioners from three to four years and eliminate off-year elections.  Again, because of the hour and the time needed for such discussion, the item was continued to the February 19th regular meeting.

Other City Business

The Mayor proclaimed February 26, 2013, as “World Spay Day,” and presented the proclamation to Brandy Carvalho, Nassau Humane Society Executive Director.

Agenda Items approved at the February 5, 2013 FBCC meeting:

  • Resolution 2013-14, accepting an amendment to conservation easements affecting certain airport property from the St. Johns River Water Management District (5-0)
  • Resolution 2013-18, approving a modified development agreement between the city and successor developer D & H Holmes for an 8.56 acre parcel of property off Sadler Road (5-0)
  • Appointment of Janet Griffin to the Board of Trustees for the Fire and Police Pension Plan (5-0)
  • Appointments of Burton Bright, Christian Rasch and Eric Bartelt to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (5-0)
  • Reappointment of Bruce Meger to the Historic District Council (4-1, with Corbett dissenting)

City Manager Gerrity provided an update on the City Clerk recruitment process, reporting that at the conclusion of currently running ads, applications would be forwarded to the commissioners for consideration.  He reported that marina dredging was halfway done and that airport tree clearing was well underway.  He also said that the city was putting out a press release advising the community that e-statements are now available for utility billing.

Acting City Clerk Kim Briley reported that there has been an uptick in applications for city board and committee positions.  She also reported that work was underway on the Elsie Harper award process.

Commissioner Boner reported that he has found interesting his first meeting with the Nassau County Economic Development Board.  Vice Mayor Corbett reported that he had toured the renovated and soon-to-be reopened Omni Resort with the Tourism Development Council.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

February 6, 2013 8:45 p.m.