At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Fernandina Beach City Commission heard an annual report from Genece Minshew, chair of the Planning Advisory Board, the city’s local planning agency responsible for zoning and Future Land Use Map amendments, Comprehensive Plan amendments, Land Development Code amendments, and other planning matters.
The PAB has worked through “a lot of map conflict and errors” in the last year, Minshew said and asked city commissioners if the PAB should deal with 12 remaining areas, mostly on South Fletcher Avenue and First Avenue, and commissioners agreed the board should clear up the conflicts with the properties. The errors there involve non-conforming uses and split zoning.
Most of Minshew’s presentation and the discussion afterward, though, were about a rewrite of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code. Minshew described the two documents: “The Comprehensive Plan is our vision and map forward and the Land Development Code is our rules and regulations for that focus.”
Minshew said the PAB would accomplish the rewrites in five phases – create a public participation program; review the input and assess, frame and outline the amendments; draft the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code; obtain consensus; and write the final regulations.
That work would deliver a project website and a communication strategy; create a public involvement program; provide the city with data and analysis of that data, a quality assurance and control method, a draft Comprehensive Plan and LDC; transmit the Comprehensive Plan to state review agencies; and then present the final products to the City Commission.
Minshew gave a synopsis of how the PAB thinks the work should move forward. She said board members recommend an external and an internal committee.
The external committee would gather and provide input from the community, both individuals and bodies such as the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce and the Amelia Tree Conservancy. Minshew added the PAB believes it is important to include traditionally under-represented communities such as the African American community in its feedback.
The internal committee would include representatives from the city’s Technical Review Committee, Parks and Recreation Department, and Police Department.
Earlier this year, the city issued a Request For Qualifications for a consultant to assist the PAB and the Conservation and Planning Department with the rewrites. That request received a number of responses, and the City Commission accepted the four top-ranked firms at the meeting: WGI, Kimley-Horn, Environmental Planning and Design, and Design Workshop. The resolution was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Chip Ross saying a reference provided by one of the firms did not recommend the company when he contacted them. He also said he wanted a firmer definition of the purpose of the consultant.
Commissioner Mike Lednovich, a business consultant himself, asked Minshew how much the project would cost the city, but she said the Planning Department and PAB do not have a number yet.
“At this point, we have no idea what the project will cost because we did a Request For Qualifications instead of a Request For Proposals. We need to quickly get to that,” she said. “We’ve had some conversations about how much money it would be and I know that there is some money in this budget for a project manager, about $87,000. (Planning and Conservation Director) Mrs. (Kelly) Gibson told me she thinks she has some money in her professional services budget that could be reallocated, but frankly, I want to see what we think the real cost is.
“You can say, I have this much money, how much work can I get done? Then there’s the opportunity to say to the selected consultant, ‘Let’s write up a more detailed scope in terms of what your view is and let’s look at what those costs are.’ Without having done an RFP to begin with, we really don’t have any budget numbers. My understanding is there was a budget number of $250,000, but that was just a budget number based on best information and best guess.”
Minshew added that she has worked with a number of consultants and feels comfortable that there will not be “scope creep,” which would add to the cost of the consultant.
She explained a timeframe for completing the project could not be determined until a firm was chosen. “We are not sure how long this project’s going to be because we need to sit down and do a deep dive with a selected vendor and work out all those variables,” she said.
The next step in the process will be for the city attorney and city manager to work with the ranked vendors to determine which one the city will use and negotiate a contract with that vendor.
In another discussion, Ross gave his fellow commissioners a breakdown of the last Ocean Highway and Port Authority meeting, where OHPA commissioners reacted negatively to the city’s request that the Customs House on port property not be demolished and the city’s efforts to have the port’s charter amended.
OHPA is also in a dispute with the city over a fabric building it wants to erect to serve as a warehouse. The city maintains that the building has to comply with state and local building codes, while the port says its charter exempts it from complying with those codes.
Ross told the City Commis-sion that OHPA is applying to the Florida Department of Transportation for funding for seven projects and that part of the requirements for the funding is that the port complies with city ordinances. He suggested the city make FDOT aware that the port is not complying with city ordinances, as required to obtain the funds.
The commission agreed to put a resolution on the agenda of a future meeting that would approve City Attorney Tammi Bach sending a letter to FDOT.
Ross also told the commission that the fueling station at the Fernandina Harbor Marina needs complete replacement of its fuel lines at a cost of $200,000, which will come from a line of credit created for marina projects. A contract with Oasis Marinas, which will take over management of the marina from Westrec Marinas, has been finalized and sent to the Marina Advisory Board, Florida Inland Navigation District, and City Commissioners. That contract will be on the agenda for approval at the commission’s Nov. 3 meeting.
The City Commission declined to sunset the Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) committee, which oversees the city’s public access television channel. Julie Ferreira said she has some interest in being on that committee, as have others. The commission gave Ferreira until the end of the year to present a business plan for that committee.
In other business, the City Commission:
• Proclaimed the 15th Annual Friends of the Library Week;
• Approved a contract with Passero Associates, not to exceed $25,000, for design services related to Front Street railroad crossings;
• Approved reimbursement to First Coast Railroad for engineer review costs associated with railroad safety improvements at Ash, Centre, and Alachua streets;
• Approved, by a 4-1 vote, a professional services agreement with Silling Architects for architectural and engineering services for needs and site assessment associated with City Hall. Vice Mayor Len Kreger cast the dissenting vote citing budgeting issues;
• Approved updates to the city’s drug-free workplace policy;
• Approved a $95,000 budget amendment for work on the northern attenuator project at the marina;
• Approved a $191,120 budget transfer from the building fees fund reserve account to the building fees professional services account;
• Approved the city attorney to work with city claims administrator to defend the city in a matter involving Purple Creek, LLC, which claims the city caused damages when it required permits for repairs to a home following a storm;
• Authorized the city attorney to engage in litigation against Royal Air Freight, Inc. for damage to a runway as the result of a jet fuel spill;
• Adopted a joint program with Nassau County to provide resources on flood hazards and floodplain-related functions;
• Approved a Future Land Use Map assignment of Low Density Residential for properties located in the Plantation Hammock subdivision located on Simmons Road between South 14th Street and Amelia Road and 847 Simmons Road, totaling 4.32 acres of land;
• Approved General Com-mercial FLUM assignment and zoning for properties located at 2246 Sadler Road totaling 3.24 acres and approved a Mixed Use FLUM assignment and zoning to a property located at 2233 Sadler Road totaling 0.46 acres of land;
• Approved a large-scale Future Land Use Map Assignment of the Public and Institutional for Baptist Medical Center Nassau properties located at 1250 South 18th St., 1367 South 18th St., and vacant parcels totaling 31.39 acres of land;
• Appointed David Samson to the Firefighters and Police Officers pension plan; and
• Appointed Sue Simpson and Jayne Paige to the Golf Course Advisory Board.