FBCC fails to approve zoning change for Amelia Park PUD

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 19, 2018 – 3:30 p.m.


The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) devoted 1.5 hours of its April 17, 2018 Regular Meeting to considering whether to approve a request from the MacArthur YMCA for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay (zoning change) to the Amelia Park neighborhood regulating plan for 4.42 acres of undeveloped land located on Lake Park Drive. Despite a unanimous show of support for this change issued by the Planning Advisory Board on October 11, 2017 and support from the city Planning Manager, this item failed when Commissioner Roy Smith’s motion to approve did not receive a second.  There was no indication of further consideration.

4.4 acres to be added to Amelia Park PUD located at bottom of photo.

Although initially it appeared that the item would be approved, commission opinion seemed to change once arguments were put forth that recreational green space areas of the PUD should be maintained as such, as opposed to being converted into more residential housing.

At the end of the discussion, Commissioner Chip Ross said, “I don’t believe that any city commissioner has run on a platform that we need more high end houses.”

Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in City News |

1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza celebrates Earth Day – One pizza equals one tree

1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza
Press Release
Contact:[email protected]
April 19, 2018 1:00 p.m.

1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza in Fernandina is doing what they can this Earth Day to help keep the planet green for generations to come by partnering with Trees for the Future and committing to planting a tree for each pizza they sell at the Fernandina location on Earth Day, which is this Sunday, April 22nd. “We’re excited to be able to help continue the movement that Earth Day has come to represent, which is for us all to be custodians of our planet” says Prakash Patel, the owner of the Fernandina Beach 1,000 Degrees. “It is our duty as responsible humans to protect the beauty of this world for future generations, and this promotion helps us all do a little more to make the planet a greener, healthier place to live.” The promotion will last all day Sunday from open to close. You’re encouraged to bring both your desire to help the planet as well as your Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

City expresses appreciation to those who helped in beach renourishment

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 19, 2018 – 10:30 a.m.


The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) kicked off its April 17, 2018 Regular Meeting by delivering proclamations showing the city’s appreciation for assistance in ongoing beach renourishment and shore protection efforts.  Vice Mayor Len Kreger, who has spearheaded many city efforts to preserve and restore its beaches, placed both proclamations on the agenda.

Nassau County and Tourist Development Council

(l-r) Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Gil Langly; Nassau County Commissioner (Dist. 1) and TDC Chair Danny Leeper; Nassau County Commissioner George Spicer (Dist. 4); Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller.

Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller delivered the first proclamation to recognize the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners and Amelia Island Tourist Development Council for their partnership and funding participation in the Nassau County Shore Protection Project.

The local funding match required of the City of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County was established to be eleven percent of the total beach renourishment project cost. In 2018, the City/County cost share necessary to facilitate the Nassau County Shore Protection Project was $864,000.  The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners dispersed the Nassau County portion of the beach renourishment project cost share via the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council beach preservation fund.  Mayor Miller said, “Without the dedicated support and steadfast participation of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island would not be the beautiful island residents and visitors have come love and cherish for its beautiful vistas and world-class coastline.”

Nassau County Commissioner and Tourist Development Council Chair Danny Leeper accepted the proclamation.  He thanked the city for the recognition and said, “This is a great testament to the great partnership we’ve had working together toward a common goal.  Many partners have come together, including the city and the county.”  Leeper acknowledged the work of the Navy, Corps of Engineers and the Nassau Legislative Delegation in addition to the county and city efforts.  “It’s a true partnership to look after our citizens and the visitors who come here every day.  I’m looking forward to continued work with this partnership.”

United States Navy and United States Army Corps of Engineers

United States Navy Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar accepts proclamation as United States Army Corps of Engineers Major Edward Jarett and Mayor John Miller look on.

Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in City News |

Beach Ordinance passes on Third Reading

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 18, 2018 – 4:47 p.m.


The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) finally passed Ordinance 2018-02 on Third and Final Reading at the FBCC’s April 18, 2018 Regular Meeting.  But the ordinance that passed was a far cry from what was originally proposed.  What began earlier this year as a relatively simple (but controversial) ordinance that proposed to codify/restrict the beach parking area at Fernandina Beach’s Sadler Road Beach Access to 300 feet, morphed into a more encompassing beach ordinance, addressing many issues relating to beach use, safety and access. And, probably most important to those promoting increased access, the beach parking area, although shifted slightly to the north, will remain at the 600 feet codified in prior years as opposed to the 300 feet that it had shrunk to over time.

Commissioner Chip Ross

The prime mover behind this omnibus ordinance was Commissioner Chip Ross.  Ross, who early on expressed his personal belief that there should be no cars on the beach, acknowledged that beach driving and parking are part of the local culture and value system for many people who have deep roots in the community.  On his own, he proposed an alternative ordinance that would address those concerns, while also addressing environmental concerns and safety issues that have been of concern to the city’s Ocean Rescue Unit.

Many citizens provided input at the First Reading of the ordinance on February 6, 2018. As a result of this meeting, Ross began his efforts to fashion an ordinance that would address many of the public’s concerns as well as general beach safety concerns.

He met with many groups and individuals before crafting this alternative ordinance, including Citizens for the Preservation of Public Beaches and the personnel of the city’s Ocean Rescue Unit.  What he unveiled at the Second Reading on March 20, 2018 was a series of changes to existing city codes that would affect the entire city beach area, not limited to the Sadler Road Beach Access. Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in City News |

Art lessons

By Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Report
April 18, 2018 3:15  p.m.

Sara Payne plays the mother of a troubled student at the school where Catherine West’s Sister Aloysius is the principal, in Amelia Community Theatre’s production of “Doubt.”

Every so often, someone asks, “What good is art? Why spend money teaching and promoting it?” Usually after I hear that, a piece of art will provide me with a compelling reason to teach and promote art. Last weekend was a perfect example. I went to see the Amelia Community Theatre’s production of “Doubt.”

Not to give the plot away but the story takes place in a Catholic church and school in 1964. There are 4 actors – the nun in charge of the school, the priest in charge of both church and school, one of the sisters who teaches, and the mother of a student. It is a story about certainty and doubt, and the force that each one can have on our lives.

The central character is Sister Aloysius, the older nun who runs the school. The Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Bean & Byrd deliver the check: $450K for Fernandina Beach stormwater mitigation

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 18, 2018

Rep Cord Byrd (l) and Sen. Aaron Bean address Fernandina Beach City Commission at the April 17, 2018 FBCC meeting.

Florida Senator Aaron Bean and State Representative Cord Byrd came to Fernandina Beach City Hall last night bearing a gift:  a $450,000 check from the state to help city stormwater mitigation efforts along Front Street.

In addressing the City Commission, Sen. Bean said that the Parkland School Shooting, which occurred toward the end of the recently completed Legislative Session, caused much state money that had been programmed for funding local Legislative Priorities to be reprogrammed to deliver a school safety package that totaled over $400M. Especially adversely impacted were local water projects.  Bean credited efforts of local city lobbyist Arthur I. “Buddy” Jacobs for keeping an eye on the city’s funding request and shepherding it to its final approval by Governor Rick Scott.

Bean introduced Rep. Cord Byrd, who echoed previous comments on the difficulty of funding local water projects this year.  Byrd said that Fernandina Beach’s project was one of only 51 water projects that were funded this year.  “It took a team effort,” Byrd said, crediting Jacobs and city officials who traveled to Tallahassee to join in promoting the benefits to the state of funding the local project.

Bean asked Mayor John Miller about staging a group photo for the presentation of the ceremonial check. Miller turned to his fellow commissioners and asked, “Do we have a consensus to accept this money from the state?” That generated considerable laughter from commissioners and the audience.

(l-r) City Lobbyist Arthur I. “Buddy” Jacobs, City Attorney Tammi Bach, Rep. Cord Byrd, Sen. Aaron Bean, Vice Mayor Len Kreger, Mayor John Miller, Commissioner Roy Smith, Commissioner Philip Chapman, Commissioner Chip Ross, City Manager Dale Martin. (Photo courtesy Mary Hamburg, City of Fernandina Beach)

Bean invited Jacobs, City Attorney Tammi Bach, and City Manager Dale Martin to join the presentation. “It’s a very heavy check,” he said, “and we’ll need lots of people to hold it.”  He added, “We’re going to need some extra large ID to cash this thing.”

Bean and Byrd left the chamber following a round of audience applause.

Editor’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.

2 Comments | Posted in City News |

The USPS cannot turn Yulee into Fernandina Beach!

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 17, 2018 11:00 p.m.


Three of the most misunderstood concepts in local government here in Fernandina Beach include: Enterprise Funds, Affordable Housing and Density.

City of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, FL. Convoluted city boundary is marked in red.  Area south of the red boundary is unincorporated Nassau County (Amelia Island).

Regardless of the number of times such concepts are explained, whether in print or at meetings, people seem to prefer believing anything but the true explanations of what can, admittedly, be complex subjects.

But hands down the biggest misunderstanding among local residents and visitors is geographic in nature: the boundaries of the city of Fernandina Beach vs. Amelia Island vs. the 32034 Zip Code.  Those of us who frequent city areas heavily populated by visitors are routinely asked questions like:  “How do I get to Amelia Island?” But more discouraging is that not even all the people who live here comprehend that Fernandina Beach is an incorporated city on the northern half of Amelia Island.  While it shares a zip code with the unincorporated southern half of the island, Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in General |

Senator Aaron Bean Presents $975,000 Check to Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

Office of Senator Aaron Bean
Media Release
April 17, 2018 3:30 p.m.


On behalf of the State of Florida, State Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) last week presented a $975,000 check on Monday, April 9, 2018, to Kathleen Schofield, executive director of STEM2 Hub; Gary Chartrand, chair of STEM2 Hub Corporate Board; and, aspiring Northeast Florida STEM students. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and it includes some of the fastest-growing, most in-demand career fields in today’s workforce. During the 2018 Legislative Session, Senator Bean worked with the Florida Legislature to secure the crucial $975,000 in funding for STEM2 Hub’s Northeast Florida 21stCentury Workforce Development project, which will increase the availability of STEM-related educational programs in Northeast Florida’s schools.

“STEM education is vital to the future workforce of our state,” said Senator Bean. “I envision a Florida where all children have the chance to learn these critical skills, so they can realize their truly unlimited potential. This funding moves us closer to fulfilling this vision and provides Northeast Florida’s students with the opportunities needed to compete and excel in the 21stCentury.” Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Members of Nassau County’s Future Business Leaders receive state awards

WNHS FBLA Finalists: (Left to Right) Kameron Witt (Entrepreneurship Team), Joyce Finley (Advisor), Carlene Tompkins (Client Services), and Luke Libby (Entrepreneurship Team).

Nassau County School District
Director of Career and Adult Education
Brent Lemond

April 12, 2018, 11:03 a.m.

This weekend at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) State Conference, West Nassau High School’s Entrepreneurship Team of Luke Libby and Kameron Witt led a group of six finalists from Nassau County. Libby and Witt placed second in their event at the state competition held this past weekend at the Orlando Hilton Resort and Convention Center. Over 50 students from five Nassau County schools competed in various events related to business, sales, customer service, Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |

Friends of the Library Presents Workshop on Top 5 Productivity Apps

Learn about the top 5 productivity apps for smartphones at a workshop sponsored by Friends of the Library.

Friends of the Library
Press Release
Submitted by Nancy Graham
April 17, 2018 1:00 p.m.

Friends of the Library continues to offer computer and mobile device workshops by Deryck Burnett, owner of Megabite Computer Services. As a follow-up to the last 2 workshops on installing apps on smartphones, Mr. Burnett will introduce and discuss the top 5 smartphone productivity apps available. The presentation will be held Saturday, April 21st from noon to 1:00p.m. in the Community Room of the Fernandina Beach Library.

Friends of the Library offers this presentation free of charge. Participation is limited and classes fill rapidly, so register in advance by calling the library at 904-530-6500, Extension 1. If you find you are not Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in General |