Nassau County Commissioners returned from Tallahassee this week where they went to stop proposed SB324 which the Board of County Commissioners has stated is an attempt by Rayonier (filed through the Associated Industries of Florida, according to a statement issued by the BOCC) to avoid paying for recreation facilities per the agreement they have for creation and development of the ENCPA stewardship district in House Bill 1075.
According to various members of the county commission during a special meeting held on February 23rd, lobbyists working on behalf of Rayonier and Raydient told state lawmakers in the Capitol that the board was trying to engage in “extortion” against them.
The official statement from the Board of County Commissioners states:
“Raydient’s amendment is a back-door attempt to renege on the commitments promised by Raydient to the Board and citizens as outlined in the approved Stewardship District bill. This dispute does not belong in Tallahassee or in a statewide general bill and should be settled here in Nassau County, by both parties coming to the table and working towards a solution.”
And goes on to say:
“House Bill 1075 (152 pages) that created the East Nassau Stewardship District states (in part):
‘The existence and use of such a special and limited special purpose local government for the East Nassau Stewardship District lands…provide for the adequate mitigation of impacts and development of infrastructure in an orderly and timely manner; prevent the overburdening of the local general purpose government and the taxpayers…’
[the special powers of the District include…] “To provide public parks and public facilities for indoor and outdoor recreational, cultural, and educational uses.”
Now, a year later, the general bill amendment introduced by Raydient directly contradicts the local bill and states:
‘…a local government may not include or impose as a development order condition a requirement that a developer contribute or pay for land acquisition or construction or expansion of public facilities, or portions thereof, unless the local government has enacted a local ordinance that requires developers of other developments not within a sector planning area to contribute a proportionate share of the funds, land, or public facilities necessary to accommodate any impacts having a rational nexus to the proposed development.”
The link to the full text of the official statement can be found here: Click HERE for full statement.
Raydient Places contends this wasn’t the intention in a statement they sent to Nassau Politics, which can be found here:
“A lot has been said about us recently by Nassau County staff and officials, and unfortunately a lot of it is untrue. We wanted to set the record straight with the facts below. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any of this further with you.
- According to Nassau County’s policies, developers are required to contribute land for public community and regional parks and builders are required to pay recreational impact fees for park facilities to accommodate for the people that purchase in their communities.
- The ENCPA includes plans to allocate land for parks and recreation. At build out, we will have contributed 556 acres for public regional parks and 186 acres for community parks. Roughly 50% of the 24,000-acre ENCPA, including about 3,850 upland acres, will be set aside in a Conservation Habitat Network. The 3,850 acres alone is five times what the county’s policies require in their Comprehensive Plan.
- Future residents of the ENCPA will be County taxpayers as well. It was never envisioned that the County could wash their hands of the responsibility to provide county services to these taxpayers.
- Today there are zero residents in Wildlight and the ENCPA, so we are not putting any pressure on the county’s current parks and recreation needs.
- Since 2016, we have been offering to the county to pay for a Civic Facilities Study, which includes parks and recreation, to determine what needs will be generated by the development of the ENCPA.
- We believe the county is threatening to place an inequitable burden on our company by shifting the costs associated with growth outside the ENCPA onto Raydient and residents inside the ENCPA. We need to protect our company’s interests and expect to be treated fairly. We expect Nassau County’s policies to be enforced in the same way to all developers and landowners.
A lot of the press coverage has included a number of quotes from the BOCC’s Feb. 12 meeting. Here are a few quotes from that meeting that stood out to us, along with the timestamp of when they were said in the meeting:
‘No one’s addressing the recreation. We aren’t. We’re not addressing the traffic. We don’t fund anything. We’re at a bare minimum, and when you hear what we have in the CIP funds, there is none.’ – Pat Edwards, 58:28
‘…everybody understood the major recreation, public and otherwise, was destined to go inside the ENCPA. [The County doesn’t] have any — you have one 10-acre parcel down 107, but there are no other big parcels to handle the number of parks that are necessary as you move forward.’ – Mike Mullin, 26:00
‘I don’t even know what the total recreational pieces are, and I definitely don’t know what that cost. So without having that complete picture, I can’t assist them into coming up with something that works for both sides of the partnership.”’– Shanea Jones, 46:45″