Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 3, 2014 12:36 p.m.

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman

During their hour and a quarter meeting on July 1, 2014, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) made short work of a pre-holiday agenda.  Consult the city’s website for full details and meeting video.  Some agenda items have been covered in separate articles.


Mayor Ed Boner read two proclamations.  The first recognized and honored Harriet Tubman, an African-American protester, humanitarian and Union spy during the Civil War.   Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made about 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved family and friends.  After the war, she struggled for women’s suffrage.  While there was no one on hand to receive the proclamation, the mayor read it into the record and commented on what an incredible person Harriet Tubman was.

Mayor Boner presents proclamation to Nan Voit and Parks & Rec staff.
Mayor Boner presents proclamation to Nan Voit and Parks & Rec staff.

Mayor Boner delivered a second proclamation to Parks and Recreation Director Nan Voit and her staff.  Governor Rick Scott has proclaimed the month of July 2014 as “Recreation and Parks Month.”  The city has joined Governor Scott in recognizing the many parks and recreation activities in Fernandina Beach.  In accepting the proclamation Nan Voit invited everyone to take advantage of recreation opportunities in the city.




Consent Agenda

Three routine matters were approved unanimously and with no discussion:

  • Approval of minutes from regular and special meetings held in May and June;
  • Disposal of surplus property
  • Facilities Use Agreement permitting Driving Dynamics, Inc. to use airport property to conduct corporate driver training on August 8, 2014.

Public Comment

There was none.


Of the 7 resolutions considered, all passed on unanimous votes:

  • Res 2014-81 – budget amendment to transfer $8,000 within the Streets Maintenance budget for the current fiscal year
  • Res 2014-82 – approving Passero Associates, LLC’s work order 14-53R in the amount of $10,030.30 for engineering services at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport for the FDOT Design and Construction of Hangar “A” Apron Rehabilitation, Drainage, permitting, surveying, project management and administration, and testing project.
  • Res 2014-83 – approving Passero Associates, LLC’s work order 14-54R in the amount of $49,969.70 for engineering services for Florida Department of Transportation Joint Participation Agreement #43276319414 for the design and construction of North Aircraft Parking Apron, drainage, permitting, surveying, management, and testing project at the city airport.
  • Res 2014-84 – Approving the City of Fernandina Beach’s application to withhold collection of City Impact Fees for Parks and Recreation, Public Facilities, Police and Fire, totaling $1,963.41
  • Res 2014-85 – approving the emergency purchase in accordance with Section 2-433 of the City Code for Airport hangar door repairs by Aero Door International, LLC in an amount not to exceed $25,000 in FY2013/14.  City Manager Joe Gerrity explained that two recent storms had severely impacted the existing door, which is more than 20 years old.
  • Res 2014-86 – authorizing the City Attorney to defend the City in the matter of The Village Center at Gateway to Amelia Condominium Association, Inc. v. City of Fernandina Beach.  City Attorney Tammi Bach said that she would handle this matter personally and not contract outside lawyers.
  • Res 2014-87 – authorizing the City Attorney to appear on behalf of and defend the City of Fernandina Beach in the matter of First National Bank South v. City of Fernandina Beach (presuit mediation of City denial of wetlands variance pursuant to Section 70.51 Florida Statutes).  Bach explained to commissioners and the public that while the city would listen to compromise suggestions to resolve the difference, any resulting developer’s agreement would need commission approval, so it would come back for full public hearing before finalizing.  She reported that the city was also in the process of hiring an independent environmental consultant to render opinions and advice on the wetlands issues.  Commissioner Pat Gass said, “So we are only just beginning this process.”  Bach agreed.
Julie Ferreira
Julie Ferreira

Many members of the Amelia Tree Conservancy attended the meeting out of concern about this issue, and several people spoke against any compromise or reversal of the Board of Adjustment’s denial of the variance request.

Julie Ferreira referenced a 2007 decision of the FBCC, asking why it was not reflected in current code.  She said that the Bank’s attorney, Mike Mullin, wanted the matter sent to the Saint Johns Water Management District (SJWMD) for a decision, but that she believed the matter was outside their jurisdiction.  Attorney Bach replied, “We are not going to go there.”

Ferreira said that the bank was merely trying to increase the value of the property it had foreclosed upon.  Since some of the land is currently developable, Ferreira concluded that the bank’s desire to infringe on the wetlands “equates to simple greed.”

Pat Foster Turley
Pat Foster Turley

Ecologist Pat Foster Turley followed Ferreira, echoing her positions.  Turley said that the land in question is part of the Egans Creek Watershed, not the St. John’s Watershed.  “If the wetland area becomes a concrete retention pond,” she said, “we on the island lose quality of life.”  She went on to cite the various insect, bird and animal species that residents enjoy all over the island that owe their existence to the wetlands.  She said, “They still have 15 acres they can build on [without destroying the wetlands].”  “Wetlands support biodiversity of life,” she said, “so that we don’t end up with just cockroaches and cardinals.”

Rebecca Raymond
Rebecca Raymond

Rebecca Raymond spoke on behalf of the Amelia Tree Conservancy and distributed a geological survey to commissioners.  “Please be good stewards,” she pleaded.  Bailey Struss, another local resident, supported previous speakers.

Bailey Struss
Bailey Struss
CDD Director Adrienne Burke
CDD Director Adrienne Burke

Adrienne Burke, the city’s Community Development Director, addressed the matter following input from the public.  She said that Land Development Code changes were made in 2006 and that city wetlands policies have been upheld by the state.  She said that neither the city nor the SJWMD believe that the matter should be referred to SJWMD for a ruling.  She said that the city needs more information on the environmental resources on the property in question and looked toward obtaining that information from a consultant to be hired next week.

Ordinance – First Reading

The FBCC unanimously approved Ordinance 2014-22 on First Reading that changes the definition of “salary” in Section 62-111 of the City Code pertaining to the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Plan.

Other business

The FBCC unanimously approved the appointment of Rebecca McDonald to Arts and Culture Nassau.

Vice Mayor Sarah Pelican asked about the status of the ML King Center bathroom project.  City Manager Gerrity reported that the contractor has now requested an additional $15,000 to do the work.  Currently there is no performance bond in place.  Gerrity will report back when more information is known.

Gerrity also reported that one of the last graduating classes of Peck High School is working on obtaining a historical marker for Peck.

Commissioners reminded people that July 4th will be a full day of city activities starting at Main Beach and ending at the riverfront with fireworks.  Both the Palace Saloon and the Green Turtle have scheduled fundraising events to help pay for this year’s fireworks and future July 4th fireworks displays.

The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

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