Reporter – News Analyst
On November 5, 2013, voters will be asked to amend the city charter to remove language limiting both the number and size of Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA) allowed to exist in the city at the same time. If passed, this change will bring the city into line with other communities around Florida in addition to complying with current state law. The complicated topic of CRAs was addressed in an earlier article in the Fernandina Observer.
At the request of his committee, Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board (CRAAB) Chair Mike Zaffaroni appeared before the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) to update them on efforts underway to explain the referendum to the community and the voters. He reported that the city had included an informational flyer in the last water billing notice that went out to all city property owners. He has also written pieces for local media. He said that the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce recently endorsed passage of the referendum via a chamber proclamation. He said it is important for voters to understand that by voting for the change, they are not creating more CRAs. Rather, they are creating more options that would be available for future commissions, should the commissions choose to create another CRA to optimize economic development.
Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett asked if Fernandina Beach was the only Florida city to create restrictions beyond those imposed by the state. Zaffaroni replied that in all the committee’s research, they had not been able to find another city with such restrictions.
Commissioner Arlene Filkoff asked if there was anything else the commissioners could do to inform the citizens. Zaffaroni reminded commissioners that they had supported placing the measure on the ballot because they supported the change. He suggested that they might speak to their supporters and local groups to explain why they think the change is a good move for the city.
Zaffaroni said that he and the CRAAB want to see the existing CRA become successful, adding that a CRA is a great way to lay the foundation to build the infrastructure needed for the future.
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.
October 16, 2013 5:49 p.m.