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Fernandina: Alcohol is Back in Tour Cars; No Public Overnight RV Parking; New Board Appointments at Tuesday Night’s City Commission Meeting

Club 14 Fitness


By Kevin Harris, 12-8-22

Meeting Summary

During Tuesday night’s meeting (12-6-22), the Fernandina Beach City Commission amended its franchise agreement with  Amelia Historic Tours to allow consumption of alcohol by tour guests in tour vehicles. The Committee passed a code amendment as well, this one closing city parks overnight, disallowing night parking for RVs in the process, before appointing new members to eight different local boards.    

Amelia Historic Tours Franchise Agreement

During the meeting’s “Resolutions” section, Item 7.2 was a resolution to amend the city’s franchise agreement with Amelia Historic Tours. As previously mentioned, the amendment would allow passengers in tour vehicles… more specifically, in all “vehicles-for-hire” within Fernandina Beach, to carry open alcohol containers. This would make the city’s tour law consistent with Florida State law.

The current franchise agreement that the city has with Amelia Historic Tours, however,  specifically prohibits the consumption of alcohol, even for passengers. The tour operator  has asked the Commission to amend the franchise agreement to align with city/state code.  The Commission passed amendment unanimously.

Closing Parks at Night

Item 9.2, a meeting Ordinance and Public Hearing, centered on closing city parks between midnight – 5:00 a.m., effectively ending the use of recreational vehicles for overnight parking and as living quarters. The ordinance was initially approved at its first reading during the November 1, 2022 regular City Commission Meeting, and set for approval after this meeting and public hearing. No members of the public, however, were in attendance for the public hearing.

According to the city’s official “Agenda Item Synopsis,” The city has a duty to protect the health, welfare and safety of its citizens. Staff recommends closure of the City’s public parks between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m. to reduce noise and other disturbances to neighboring homes.”

Quoted from the ordinance itself:

Section 58-9. “It is unlawful for any person to use any recreational vehicle, motor home, trailer, tent, or other equipment for living quarters within the City except within a public park with a City-approved permit pursuant to section 65-4 or duly licensed recreational vehicle park.”

Section 65-4 (Item C). “No person is allowed to park any vehicle on any of the roads, rights of way, or parking lots in any park, including beach parks, between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m. The City may provide a parking permit exempting a vehicle from this rule, to any person involved in a permitted event occurring in any park.”

The city posted an ad for the public hearing in the local News Leader November 23 Edition. The ordinance passed unanimously.

Item 10. Board Appointments.

City Commissioners efficiently went through the list of local boards requiring appointments…

Item 10.1: Airport Advisory Commission

Commissioner Bradley Bean moved to reappoint Charles Cockord and Douglas Geeb. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.2: Arts and Culture Nassau

Commissioner Bean moved to reappoint Francis Shay. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.3: Code Enforcement and Appeals Board

Commissioner Bean moved to reappoint Adam Kaufman and Nicole Krass. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.4: Golf Course Advisory Board

Vice Mayor Len Kreger moved to appoint Emma Fenton. Commissioner Bean had some discussion because there were two applicants for the position. It turns out the position can have two appointments, so Bean nominated Sue Simpson, the second interested candidate. Motion for both nominees passed unanimously.

Item 10.5: Historic District Council

Commissioner Bean moved to reappoint Tammy Gosac. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.6: Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee

(Three positions) Vice Mayor Kregor moved to appoint Mr. Chapman, Ms. Goochie, and Ms. Peugh. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.7: Planning Advisory Board

(Three appointments) Commissioner Bean moved to appoint Mark Bennett, John Boylen and Richard Doser. Passed unanimously.

Item 10.8: Marina Advisory Board

Commissioner Bean moved to appoint Joe Blanchard. Commissioner Ross said he wasn’t sure this board was needed, and that “I’m not even sure they (the Marine Advisory Board) want to keep meeting.” He continued, “In good conscience I can not support Mr. Blanchard, I’ll just leave it at that.”

Speaker: Mariam Phillips (Marine Advisory Board)

“I have not served on the board a full year yet. I am opposed to that board being dissolved, I think we still need to have it. Just because there’s a person on there, and Mr. Ross, doesn’t want to keep it going, I believe it’s also a way to protect our working waterfront, and I’m asking you all to continue having the Marine Advisory Board.”

Commissioner Bean:

“Certainly by applying, Joe Blanchard wants to be on the Marine Advisory Board, so I’m voting yes to appoint Joe to the board.”

Item passed, 4-1, with Commissioner Ross voting “no.”

Fernandina City Commission 12-6-22

The Next Fernandina Beach City Commission Regular Meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, at the City Hall Commission Chambers, 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State
Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists, having worked for the LA Times and
Newhall Signal. He is now also a musician and videographer, and splits his time living
outside of Salt Lake City, Ventura County, CA, and South Florida.

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