Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 29, 2015 4:15 p.m.

FBCC and PAB members workshop Comprehensive Plan and role of local planning agency
FBCC and PAB members workshop Comprehensive Plan and role of local planning agency

The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) and the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) met in workshop session on January 28, 2015. The meeting was held at the PAB’s request to review and discuss the role of the Local Planning Agency (LPA) under Florida Statute 163.3174 and the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Florida Statutes define “Local Planning Agency” as “the agency designated to prepare the comprehensive plan or plan amendments required. Several audience members from the special meeting that preceded this one stayed on for the discussion, which lasted about 40 minutes.

PAB Chair Len Kreger to FBCC:  "If you don't want to listen to us (PAB), you can act as the Local Planning Agency yourselves."
PAB Chair Len Kreger to FBCC: “If you don’t want to listen to us (PAB), you can act as the Local Planning Agency yourselves.”

Senior Planner Kelly Gibson and PAB Chair Len Kreger reminded commissioners that although today the PAB serves as the city’s LPA, the FBCC could change that determination. Kreger said, “[The LPA] can also be the FBCC. If you don’t want to listen to us, you can do it yourself.” He reminded the FBCC that if they don’t like certain aspects of the Comprehensive Plan, they could direct staff to “do something about it.” As an example, Kreger cited the discussions over wetlands from the earlier meeting. “Why categorize wetlands?” he asked. “Just take that out [of the Comprehensive plan].”

Commissioner Pat Gass suggested that it would be helpful for commissioners to review parts of the Comprehensive Plan during commission meetings.

Commissioner Tim Poynter asked how many parts of the Comprehensive Plan remain to be completed. He expressed concern that distractions such as the recently presented resiliency initiative might be diverting staff time from completing the plan. Community Development Director Adrienne Burke said that the resiliency initiative supports the Comprehensive Plan.

Community Development Director Adrienne Burke and Deputy City Manager Marshall McCrary
Community Development Director Adrienne Burke and Deputy City Manager Marshall McCrary

Deputy City Manager Marshall McCrary explained to commissioners that the Comprehensive Plan drives city regulations and ordinances. He and Burke agreed that the inclusion of completion dates in the plan with current staffing levels had probably been overly ambitious. Burke said that the time frames were more useful for benchmarking.

The Comprehensive Plan is reviewed every seven years, meaning that the city’s plan should be reviewed within the next 1-2 years.

PAB Member Mark Bennett explains how the PAB considered public input in revising the Comp Plan; Senior planner Kelly Gibson looks on.
PAB Member Mark Bennett explains how the PAB considered public input in revising the Comp Plan; Senior planner Kelly Gibson looks on.

PAB Member Mark Bennett reminded commissioners that there was significant public input taken during the last review of the plan.

Gass asked about the role of the Comprehensive Plan. She said that commissioners are told that it provides them with direction and also that it is gospel. She asked, “Which is it?”

McCrary said it is both and asked Senior Planner Kelly Gibson to explain. Gibson distributed a graphic to better illustrate the relationships among the public, the commissioners and the law in fashioning the Comprehensive Plan, a policy that drives the Land Development Code, the 5-Year Capital Improvements Program and the Annual Budget of the city. The state mandated such planning in 1985, and the city’s first plan was dated 1990. Burke added that part of the Community Development Department’s job is to see that all city departments accept and adhere to plan elements, recognizing that it is not just for the Planning Department and the PAB. She also said that planners want to know where FBCC places its priorities in the plan.

compplanMcCrary stressed that no one policy stands alone, but must be read in conjunction with the entire Comprehensive Plan, which is an amalgam of policies. He added that planning staff “would love to get questions” on the plan from commissioners.

CDD Director Burke reminded that each chapter of the plan is prefaced by an overview summary and that the entire plan may be found on the city’s website at www.fbfl.us/compplan.

PAB Member Jon Lasserre expresses his willingness to help commissioners better understand the Comp Plan.
PAB Member Jon Lasserre expresses his willingness to help commissioners better understand the Comp Plan.

PAB Member Jon Lasserre said that individual PAB members had been assigned to champion specific parts of the Comprehensive Plan during the last review. He said he would be pleased to help present his area of the plan to commissioners for review and discussion at a future FBCC meeting.

The meeting ended with the PAB agreeing to develop a schedule for FBCC review and discussion of the plan section by section.

Corrected 10:00 a.m. 1/30/15.

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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Adrienne Burke
Adrienne Burke(@aburkefbfl-org)
7 years ago

Hi Suanne,

Thank you for this report. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things…one, that the initiative we are working on is a resiliency initiative, not sustainability. While these two concepts have things in common, they aren’t the same. Resiliency is focused on bouncing back from potential impacts, while sustainability is focused on wise use of resources so that they are available in the future. The City has done sustainability efforts before, but this effort is looking at different things.

The other point is that the Planning Advisory Board is the group who will be looking at developing a schedule for Commission review of the Comprehensive Plan. I believe they will first discuss this at their February meeting.

Thanks again!

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