Fernandina Beach acquires 3 properties for conservation with help from North Florida Land Trust

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Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 6, 2019

The Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) accepted two Warranty Deeds and one Quit Claim Deed for three vacant properties via unanimous vote at their November 5, 2019 Regular Meeting.  The properties will be purchased with a combination of funds from the City of Fernandina Beach’s recently created Conservation Fund and North Florida Land Trust contributions to match the City’s contribution, including a $50,000 bequest from the Susan Laird estate .

The total assessed value for all three properties listed below is $260,439:

  • Dodd property, 3.33 acres on Egans Creek, (Parcel Tax ID No.: 00-00-31-1616-0003-0000). Taxes for 2018 were paid in the amount of $1,340.60. Current assessment is $68,000.00; 
  • Episcopal Church property, 5.5 acres north of Atlantic Avenue at 11th Street and Dade Street (Parcel Tax ID No.: 00-00-31-1800-0217-0010). Taxes for 2018 are exempt. Currently assessed at $192,400.00. 
  • Floyd Garrett property, 1.58 acres also north of Atlantic Avenue at 11th and Dade Streets (Parcel Tax ID No.: 00-00-31-1800-0217-0060). No Taxes for 2018 are due on this property which is assessed at $39.00.

The actual purchase price for the lands was not disclosed during the meeting.  However, the FBCC approved the purchase prices earlier by separate Resolutions.  On March 5, 2019, the FBCC approved Resolution 2019-44, agreeing to purchase the Episcopal Church property for $340,000 and the Floyd Garrett property for $25,000.  On July 16, 2019, the FBCC approved Resolution 2019-117, agreeing to purchase the Dodd property for $250,000.  Acquisition of the properties has been done for the City by the North Florida Land Trust, which is contributing half the total purchase price of $615,000 as part of a 50-50 matching grant.

According to Marc Hudson of the North Florida Land Trust, settlement which will result in the City’s acquisition of three pieces of property to place in its Conservation land bank, is tentatively scheduled for November 12, 2019.

The parties agreed that the Episcopal Church land will be named “The Bishop John Freeman Young Park” in perpetuity.

In addressing some concerns that he has received from the Fernandina Beach community, Hudson explained that because the land is being acquired with privately-raised funds from the North Florida Land Trust for conservation purposes, the property must be maintained in a manner which protects the natural resources on the property, allowing for passive recreational and educational uses allowing for nature-based experiences, such as trails, boardwalks, overlooks, gazebos, interpretive signage and similar amenities, placed and constructed in a manner so as to minimize impacts to the natural resources.  Should the City permit the property to be used, or use the property in a manner inconsistent with the Goals, the City “shall transfer to the North Florida Land Trust, its successor organization or assigns, fee interest in the real estate acquired hereunder sufficient to ensure that the Property is not developed and used in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Goals.”


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8 Responses to Fernandina Beach acquires 3 properties for conservation with help from North Florida Land Trust

  1. Robert Sherretta says:

    Dear FBO,
    We enjoy your publication very much. Just one suggestion that I am sure you have heard before: MORE MAPS PLEASE! In a story like the one above on the property purchases, it would sure help to know where they are relative to FB. Thank you.
    Robert Sherretta

  2. Diana Herman says:

    Wonderful —so grateful for the city and North Florida Land Trust!

  3. Gerald Decker says:

    It is not the city’s job to acquire land for “conservation”….hopefully this whole debacle can be put to rest in 2020.

    • Richard Kurpiers says:

      I currently live in a city in Florida that is roughly 4 square miles larger than Fernandina Beach. When I first moved to the city where I now reside, the population was approximately 11,000. The population now stands at around 42,000. Growth has destroyed the place once touted less than 10 years ago by national publications as one of the best places in the country to raise a family. Citizens, like myself, recoiled as we watched uncontrolled growth spread like cancer, powerless to do anything about it. You see, Florida is a property rights state and local municipalities have little recourse to stop developers – EXCEPT to purchase property and designate it conservation land. The local golf course went bankrupt a couple of years ago and developers immediately approached the city with plans to purchase and develop the land into a planned community. Residents rejoiced when the city decided instead to purchase the land to keep it from being developed. Then again, long term residents have the benefit of watching their city succumb to the pitfalls that accompany unchecked growth to acquire that wisdom.

      My boys will finish high school and then my wife and I will move to Old Town. With us will come the wisdom of knowing that purchasing land to snatch it from greedy developers will help protect our vision of retirement on Amelia Island.

  4. Gerald Decker says:

    Unfortinately, land grabbing is not a city function…..I’m sorry.

    • Richard Kurpiers says:

      Per Section 7 of the City of Fernandina Beach Charter:

      “(a) The City of Fernandina Beach shall have full power and authority to:

      (1) Acquire, take, hold, control and dispose of property, real, personal and mixed, both within and without its corporate limits, for the use, benefit, welfare and best interest of said municipality, by acquisition, condemnation or otherwise;”

  5. Jerry Decker says:

    That does not translate to land grabbing to block development…again, sorry. The comprehensive plan, FLUM, Planning Advisory Board, and zoning tools are there to manage development. If these tools are inadequate, we have a real problem with governance….when development runs “rough-shod” the problem is poor governance. Never is it right to simply lock-up land to prevent lawful development….I suspect the courts would agree.

    • Richard Kurpiers says:

      “Property rights” and “home rule”. The courts have already ruled so there is no need to suspect how they would decide. Small case in point: You can stop development by purchasing land and then sitting on it, or donating it to the city on the condition that it be designated conservation. The entity from whom you purchased the land has the right to sell it to you, and you in turn have the right to stop it from being developed under your ownership. That is your “right”. The city charter gives Fernandina Beach government the same right to purchase land then sit on it for whatever purpose is legally within its rights – including the prevention of commercial or residential development. What the city DOES NOT have the right to do is change the rules (aka FLUM, Planning Advisory Board, zoning et. al) for the express purpose of preventing an entity to exercise its rights to develop the land under the conditions that existed when the land was acquired. Hence the term “property rights'”. Given this, one of the few avenues a city has to control development is to simply acquire the land.

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