PAB vote: thumbs down on Port Master Plan

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm

Reporter – News Analyst

This is an early post on the PAB meeting last night.  A more detailed update will follow.–Suanne



More than 60 people attended the November 12, 2014 meeting of the city of Fernandina Beach’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) anxious to learn whether the PAB would recommend adoption of the Port of Fernandina’s draft Master Plan.  Although the Ocean Highway and Port Authority’s (OHPA) attempted to address public questions and concerns via a lengthy and revised slide presentation prepared by their consultant, the PAB decided in the final analysis that the plan had not been significantly revised.  Concerns over wetlands remained, along with environmental and safety concerns.  Both PAB members and 10 speakers spoke to inconsistencies in the plan that made the document difficult to read and understand as currently written.  PAB Chair Len Kreger asked why, if the OHPA had no intentions of taking certain actions or adding various activities, such references could not just be removed entirely from the document.  Brian Wheeler, the OHPA consultant, responded that he believed Kreger’s concerns had been addressed by footnotes and documents included in appendices.

The six members of the PAB disagreed.  After more than 2.5 hours of presentation, discussion and public comment, the Board voted unanimously to send its recommendation for denial to the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC).  The FBCC will take up the matter in January 2015 with a new commission.  Commissioner Johnny Miller and Commissioner-Elect Robin Lentz, along with Group 2 Commission Seat run-off candidate Tim Poynter attended the PAB meeting but did not speak.  No other seated commissioners attended.  Other than the consultant, no one from the OHPA or Kinder-Morgan (the port operator) appeared to be in attendance.  All 10 members of the public who spoke urged the PAB to recommend denial of the OHPA master plan as presented.

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