Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 9, 2015 1:00 p.m.
Janet Miller lives on Pheasant Lane in Fernandina Beach. When her house was built in the 1980’s, it was in the county, but following a 2008 annexation it is now in the city. This past fall she noticed a serious problem: a sinkhole that was developing on a neighboring property was starting to impact her property. She approached the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC), seeking help in saving her property during public input at the February 3, 2015 Regular Meeting.
According to City Utilities Director John Mandrick, in researching the problem it was discovered that a piece of drainage pipe was missing, probably dating to the time of construction in the 1980’s. At the time that Miller’s development was built there were many problems uncovered relating to poor and/or unauthorized building practices, including burying construction debris under driveways.
No one knows the true extent of the problem at this time. The missing pipe section causing Miller’s problem is located on private property. The county has refused to accept responsibility since the land was annexed into the city in 2008. Miller doesn’t care who fixes the problem, but she is getting increasingly concerned for the safety of her grandchild who plays in her back yard. Cracks are now developing in her pool deck as well.
City Manager Joe Gerrity said that the city has hired surveyors to examine the situation and try to estimate the extent of the problem. He said that the city could get an easement to correct the problem, but according to John Mandrick, such a fix could cost $25-50,000.
Billy Fancher, Miller’s son, reinforced his mother’s concerns. Commissioner Robin Lentz said, “We hear you. We won’t let it go.”
Surveyors are expected to visit the site the week of February 9.
Miller, who came to the meeting with a sheaf of papers demonstrating her attempts to get resolution to the problem, in desperation has also contacted media representative Ken Amaro. Her story may be seen at the link below:
Editor’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.