Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 13, 2015 6:13 p.m.

 

OHPA deliberates vote on Port Master Plan changes:  l-r Carroll Franklin, Adam Salzburg, Joanna Cason, Richard Bruce, Danny Fullwood
OHPA deliberates vote on Port Master Plan changes: l-r Commissioners Carrol Franklin, Adam Salzburg; attorney Clyde Davis, Administrative Office Manager Joanna Cason; Commissioners Richard Bruce, Danny Fullwood

Following more than a year of discussion, heated at times, between the Nassau County Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA), the City of Fernandina Beach, and many concerned local citizens, the OHPA voted on August 12, 2015 to amend the 2014 Port Master Plan to reflect a more realistic picture of future port plans and to remove or change language that generated health, safety and environmental concerns in the community.

OHPA Commissioners Carrol Franklin and Adam Salzburg
OHPA Commissioners Carrol Franklin and Adam Salzburg

Three Port Commissioners—Chairman Richard Bruce, Danny Fullwood and Adam Salzburg—voted to approve the revised language that came about as a result of workshop discussions among commissioners and the community. Commissioner Carrol Franklin continued to oppose making changes to the plan that had been developed more than a year ago by a consultant at a cost of close to $100,000 and initially presented to the OHPA in February 2014. Franklin maintained throughout the review process that the public had not availed itself of opportunities to voice objection while the plan was being developed. He also cited concerns that some of the deletions to the plan might not be feasible should an emergency situation arise. The fifth Port Commissioner, Ron Braddock, has been absent from meetings since June 2014 due to illness and therefore did not vote.

OHPA Chair Richard Bruce
OHPA Chair Richard Bruce

Chairman Bruce reported that he has asked the Florida Department of Transportation for an updated traffic study to replace the outdated numbers cited in the plan with respect to road capacity in Fernandina Beach. He reminded Port Commissioners and the audience that a plan is never totally finished, but that time had come in his view “to pull the trigger” and move forward to complete this version of the plan. Bruce provided a new written introduction to the plan, which was also approved by majority vote 3-1.

OHPA Commissioner Danny Fullwood
OHPA Commissioner Danny Fullwood

Commissioner Danny Fullwood stressed that the final product was a good document, expressing his hope that its passage would “get the community settled down.” In response to Franklin’s concern that limiting truck traffic would leave no room for growth, Fullwood said that the revised numbers reflect the reality of traffic that the Port can actually handle. He said that he saw no change that would adversely impact port business and that the word “coal,” which generated so much public pushback, was the only major deletion from the plan.

Phil Scanlan, who chaired a community effort to bring specific objections and suggestions for improving the plan to the OHPA, summarized the major issues as they stood following workshops in an August 13, 2015 email directed to members of the Citizen Team. He wrote that the OHPA:

  1. Agreed to Remove Petroleum Oil Refinery plan.
  2. Agreed to eliminate any mention of Coal in the plan. (Subsequently WestRock committed to not request use of the FB Port for Coal delivery.)
  3. Agreed to Remove Fumigation Facility plans from the plan. (However they did indicate they may use spot fumigation as needed.)
  4. Agreed to Reduce Planned Truck traffic increase to the prior peak port year, which was 168 trucks per day. (The current Port Plan calls for about double that truck traffic in the future.)
  5. Agreed to Remove LNG or CNG Facility Plans or large storage areas of LNG or CNG – due to the proximity to the community. (However, they indicated they would handle and ship containerized LNG and CNG, without large quantity storage.)
  6. There was no agreement to limit cruise ship size. However, they agreed due to security requirement cruise ships could not be mixed with cargo shipments at the F.B. port.  The old Pogey Plant location in Nassau County outside F.B. was left as a future option for cruise ship terminal.  (However, the F.B. Port does not plan to finance that.)
  7. There was no agreement to eliminate phosphates (fertilizer), since the OHPA felt they could be handled safely. (The Tampa Port handles a lot of phosphates.  However, there are no specific plans to handle phosphates in F.B.)
  8. Agreed to avoid any wetland damage.

9 a.  Agreed the economic analysis in the plan was wrong and none of the 3 phase of investment, which total $56 million, would produce a positive economic benefit.  Therefore none of the 3 phases were affordable.

9 b.  Agreed on a Goal — The Chairman articulated a clear DRAFT Vision, Mission, Purpose, Goal and list of Key Plans. That DRAFT was very supportive of moving forward with a successful port that does not harm the community.

Phil Scanlan
Phil Scanlan

Scanlan concluded, “I would like to thank Representative Adkins for her support in initiating a Citizen Team—OHPA Commission effort to make changes in the Port Strategic Plan to accommodate community concerns.  The Citizen Team and the OHPA Commissioners have spent considerable time analyzing and discussing the current plan and the proposed changes in respectful meetings and individual conversations. I also want to thank OHPA Commission Chair Richard Bruce and OHPA Commissioners Danny Fullwood and Adam Salzburg for their support for several citizen requested changes at their OHPA Workshops.”

Once the master document is updated to reflect the changes, the document will be forwarded to both the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED) for their review.

Until the document can be put into final form, readers may see in the document below the changes approved on August 12, 2015 for incorporation into the OHPA and Port of Fernandina Strategic Master Plan, originally crafted in October 2014. To request copies of minutes and documents, consult the OHPA website www.portoffernandina.org.

port changes

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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Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_42715)
7 years ago

This is a good, solid move upwards and shows responsive and responsible thinking.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott (@guest_42720)
7 years ago

Thanks to Commissioners Bruce, Fullwood and Salzburg for their willingness to listen to the community and agreement to modify a business plan that is certainly more realistic for the Port. I suspect the level of stubbornness of Commission Franklin is directly proportional to his district’s distance from FB but his next election cycle will determine how insulating that distance is.

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_42826)
7 years ago

I commend the Commissioners on finally including all the stakeholders in the Design of the Port Master Plan. I hope this is a lesson learned for the Commissioners and the Community. In completing the next 10 year Master Plan, all stakeholders should be involved. The Port Commission could have saved a large chunk of money, and the Community saved the stress and upheaval of this last year. One things for sure, the Electorate will pay attention to the people we elect to the OHPA Commission from this day forward.

Anne Oman
Anne Oman (@guest_42829)
7 years ago

The community owes Phil Scanlan a huge debt of gratitude — not only for helping to ensure that the Port activities remain conducive to a high quality of life but also for spearheading the wonderful network of bike trails that lace our island. Kudos to Phil and all the others who worked so hard to achieve these goals.

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_42964)
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne Oman

On the Surface,Phil was the most visible, and he did an incredible job of organizing and compiling the issues. He was the voice of our community in front of the OHPA Commission. His work on this can not be understated. Phil, was the driving force behind this Community’s Win. But lets not forget the incredible amount of work that went on behind the scenes. The Santrys, Millers, Adkins, Monzons, Ross’s, Halls, these and more worked in front of, and behind the scenes to accomplish these results. All of these folks had an integral part to play. This type of Community action,is awesome. Thank You All.

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