By Chip Ross
City Commissioner, City of Fernandina Beach
Two separate but opposing points of view are emerging in our community. The character of the city depends on which group prevails.
The first group is the Better, Not Bigger group.
- They want development that prevents the overcrowding of the land and undue congestion of the population.
- They want development that reduces the potential for adverse impacts on the functions of wetlands, natural systems, habitats, tree canopy, water quality, shorelines, marine life and coastal resources.
- They want development that respects the fact that the city is on a barrier island, which has a finite capacity for building sites and the number of people who can live here. In many ways that capacity has been reached.
- They believe the current Land Development Code (LDC), if followed, will achieve those goals.
- They also believe more building sites lead to more congestion and a decrease in the quality of life.
- They believe real growth is about reaching full potential, not maximum size. It means progress, not excess; it is fueled by imagination, not sheer volume.
The second group is the Bigger is Better group.
- They want more building sites in the city.
- They believe more building sites make a town look “fresh.”
- They believe more buildings sites create an economic locomotive that benefits all.
- They believe more building sites provide opportunities for more jobs.
- They believe if the community is not growing, it is stagnating.
- They measure success in the number of new homes built.
- They are silent on how more building sites leads to less congestion and increased quality of life.
- They view the current Land Development Code problematic to new development and needs to be changed immediately to allow more building sites.
As a community we are at a crossroads of which view will prevail.
At least three members of the current City Commission are proposing changes to the Land Development Code to allow development of additional building sites. If approved, the number of allowable building sites in the city will potentially dramatically increase.
Quality of life matters. Choose Better, Not Bigger.