By Vanneza Stubbs, February 5, 2024
In my opinion my 1st amendment rights may have been violated over this pending annexation of Kenneth Court to the City of Fernandina Beach. City Attorney Tammi Bach and her paralegal Victoria Newton initially denied me the right to present my case as an affected party at Tuesday’s city commission meeting on this annexation stating: “County residents do not meet the LDC definition of affected parties.” Later, Bach indicated after further communications that “two of the ordinances for the property are listed as quasi-judicial hearings, which means affected parties (residents of the city) are not limited in the amount of time they are allowed to speak and provide evidence and testimony at these hearings.”
According to City Attorney Bach’s interpretation of the LDC, county residents are not considered affected parties and not allowed to speak at these quasi-judicial hearings on annexation. Her intent seems to keep someone from speaking who is being affected by an annexation. The very nature of an annexation involves county residents coming into the city.
After I insisted on Bach clarifying why I was not an affected party as a county resident, Bach went on to say” Resolution 2017-74 is not the only applicable definition and is not part of the LDC. The City has in Section 1.07.00 of the Land Development Code a definition of affected part below which has been interpreted to mean residents and property owners in the City. Finally, on Friday February 2, just 2 days before the deadline to submit my request as an intervenor, Bach changed her mind stating: “Ms. Stubbs: If you wish to present evidence and testimony as a neighbor and affected party for this application for annexation on Kenneth Court, I will not object.”
1.07.00 LDC Affected Party for purposes of quasi-judicial hearings an affected party is any property owner, resident, or local government. (see relevant Resolution 2017-74 Quasi Judicial Hearing Rules of Procedures.pdf )
Note that nowhere in this section of the LDC regarding affected parties does it mention city or county resident. Had I not persisted, I would have been denied the right to speak or even submit a request as an intervenor and affected party. How many other county residents may this have happened to? This needs further looking into. By its very nature, a city annexation involves a county property and as such property owners surrounding a proposed annexation are ALL affected parties and have the right to speak. Being denied this right until the last minute, hindered my due process rights. If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to persist in your right to speak as a citizen of the city or the county.
The proposed development of 6 single family homes on less than an acre is far more dense and out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.
The annexation will be covered at Tuesday’s February 6th City Commission meeting at 6pm – agenda item #7:
7. ORDINANCE – FIRST READING
7.1 (Quasi-judicial) – VOLUNTARY ANNEXATION – 766 KENNETH COURT – ORDINANCE 2024-01 ANNEXING APPROXIMATELY 0.92 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 766 KENNETH
COURT CONTIGUOUS TO THE CITY LIMITS; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND
PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE. Synopsis: Requests voluntary annexation of properties located at 766 Kenneth Court totaling approximately 0.92 acres of land, contiguous to the City limits.
7.2 (Legislative) – FUTURE LAND USE MAP ASSIGNMENT – 766 KENNETH COURT –
ORDINANCE 2024-02 ASSIGNING A FUTURE LAND USE MAP CATEGORY OF MEDIUM
DENSITY RESIDENTIAL (MDR) FOR 0.92 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 766 KENNETH
COURT; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
Synopsis: Requests for Future Land Use Map category of Medium Density Residential (MDR), totaling0.92 acres of land, located at 766 Kenneth Court.
7.3 (Quasi-Judicial) – ZONING MAP ASSIGNMENT – 766 KENNETH COURT – ORDINANCE 2024-03 ASSIGNING A ZONING MAP CATEGORY OF RESIDENTIAL LOW MEDIUM (RLM) FOR
0.92 ACRES OF LAND LOCATED AT 766 KENNETH COURT; PROVIDING FOR
SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE. Synopsis: Requests assignment of Residential Low Medium (RLM) zoning category for approximately 0.92 acres of land located at 766 Kenneth Court.
Vaneeza Stubbs owns property in the affected area.