On April 24, 2023, the Nassau County Commissioners agreed to permit Riverstone Properties to build up to 11 towers, each at least 85 feet high, at the south end of Amelia Island. Commissioner Alyson McCullough dissented.
On May 23, the Citizens Against Runaway Development (“CARD”) filed suit against Nassau County to prevent the settlement agreement from becoming effective. The Sanctuary Property Owners’ Association joined CARD in the suit.
Nassau County Attorney, Denise May, has retained a law firm in Tampa to represent the county. On June 19, the county filed its response to CARD’s suit in which it:
- Asks Riverstone Properties to join with Nassau County against the citizen groups.
- Challenges the right of CARD, supported by hundreds of residents on Amelia Island and elsewhere, to contest the county’s actions.
- Demands that citizen groups opposing the towers pay attorney fees incurred by Nassau County.
- Does not deny that the county has engaged in contract zoning, failed to follow required zoning procedures, or any other wrongdoing.
A response to Nassau County was filed by CARD on August 31. In it the Amelia Tree Conservancy has asked to join as a plaintiff opposing the agreement allowing the towers and other development.
Under the agreement approved by Nassau County on April 24, Riverstone would be allowed to build 11 towers at least 85 feet high, despite an existing ordinance limiting such structures to 45 feet. The County has also voluntarily surrendered many important rights to Riverstone, including:
- The right to measure building heights from finished grade, which can be much higher than the existing natural grade.
- Freedom, in perpetuity, from any future county ordinances involving zoning.
- The right to erect at least four lighted billboards (13 feet high) along scenic portions of A1A.
- Freedom, in perpetuity, from any future county ordinances involving tree protection.
- Setbacks for 85-foot towers as narrow as 25 feet from adjacent property lines.
- Tax credits of more than $11,000,000 for donating eight acres of the property, which include lowland, wetland, and unbuildable land.
- The right to build within only 20 feet of the state’s Coastal Control Line.
- A payment of $250,000 from the county to Riverstone.
CARD will do its best to keep citizens informed of developments in this matter. The county has not made any public announcements concerning its actions and is not expected to do so.
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