Highest and Best Use…..Selfish or Logic

In the last few weeks, local politics has been filled with misinformation related to the use of land and zoning.¬† Knowing a little can be dangerous, but implying highest and best use is somehow a selfish thing…I’m not sure how to respond.

All zoning lists the potential uses for property, if you meet other criteria.¬† ¬† There lies the difficulty.¬† Beginning with a developed property or properties in the historic district, just how difficult would it be to change a site radically?¬† ¬†Condominiums are possible with existing buildings, but not in the way you might think.¬† ¬†I’ve actually talked about splitting properties to allow the sale of individual spaces.¬† This makes sense if thinking of control of maintenance or appearance, but also adds a level of control to the building.¬† ¬†In a historic district, small condominium or shared maintenance agreements for existing buildings are almost a kind of small-scale zoning created by owners.¬† ¬† Fearing the idea of these isn’t logical, but I understand some might think massive properties might take over parts of a desireable area like the historic district.

The highest and best use is just the likeliest or most logical use for a property to accomplish an owner or investor’s objective.¬† ¬†Most of the time, the highest and best use is also the most profitable use, but not always.¬† ¬†Consider a property with one highest and best use, but limited by size, restrictions on combination or a historic district with rules making it very difficult to change a building.¬† ¬†By change, i mean demolish or remove one building to erect another in its place.¬† ¬†The cost of acquiring a property, designing a renovation and, if a building is already in place, demolishing the old to build a new is generally going to be prohibitive in the vast majority of cases.¬† ¬† In a market with prices for an existing older building in the $200 to $250/ft range, adding the cost to reconstruct would likely push the cost per foot over $400 per square foot.¬† While it might appear to be a hypothetical highest and best use, no developer or investor is willing to lose half a project cost at sale.

Selfish uses of property really just mean logical use.¬† I spend most of my time considering the best way to make the most of a listing.¬† How can it be changed?¬† Is the current owner’s use maximizing the property?¬† If the use is changed, is the cost to change worth the potential benefit?¬† ¬†Are code updates required?¬† What about parking?¬† ¬†Sometimes a change of use requires addition of parking spaces.¬† If there aren’t spaces or land to creat spaces, the use might just be an impossibility.

I’m a little surprised anyone would see highest and best use as a bad thing, unless they just aren’t considering the logic, but then my career is, in part, helping clients find the most logical use for their properties.

Weekend Thoughts….Coffee Conversations

Bill Flynn speaking at the opening of the new library he had so much to do with improving. Great man!

I’ll probably be at a coffee and conversation event at Buygo for Orlando Avila today, but I’m thinking over some of the issues in this year’s city commission election and the runoff on December 12th.

Both candidates profess love for the community and town, but there is a subtle or perhaps not so subtle difference.¬† ¬†Loving the town as it is today or as it was when you arrived isn’t good enough.¬† Towns change and evolve, despite efforts to stop change.¬† ¬†We thrive on diversity, so any view of the town without a serious understanding of how Fernandina works and the interrelationships between tourism, industry, residents, environmental resource protection and sometimes short-sighted politicians, will fail.¬† ¬†We live in the best, in my opinion, location on the east coast of Florida.¬† I love this place, the people and diversity, but I also love something you won’t expect.¬† I love the change.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” It’s a Wonderful Life – Clarence 1946

25 years ago, I seriously considered moving away from Fernandina.¬† I felt the pull of greener grass and the pull of a larger world I sometimes felt I missed by living on Amelia Island.¬† ¬†Family, marriage, kids, work, history and momentum seemed to conspire to keep me here and as I matured.¬† At one point, I felt like George Baily in “Its a Wonderul Life”…trapped in a great place, but at that time in my life not quite recognizing my good fortune.¬† ¬†Later, I began to feel interested in politics and understood the responsibility and influence I had on everyone around me, but also the responsibility.

Time in an area leads toward a feeling of responsibility and ownership, but a conversation I had this morning reminded me of thoughts I had in 2012.¬† ¬†I felt responsible to everyone after being elected.¬† I immediately felt I was obligated to every voter, not just a few….and wanted to learn as much as possible.¬† Feeling strongly about an issue is important, but understanding a community changes and compromising to find a balance is good government is what we need in a politician. Maybe this is the wrong word to use, but by compromise, I’m talking about learning, listening and being willing to see a better path when one exists.¬† There are going to be times when a decision does not lend itself to compromise, but most people looking for elected office should have the humility and common sense needed to learn.¬† ¬†The bigger the ego and the more convinced a candidate feels…or entitled to change directly without any discussion, the worse that candidate will be in the position.

In 2017, I love Fernandina and the opportunity I’ve had to live here.¬† ¬†Seeing a difference you made is incredibly rewarding and this town offers so many opportunities to give back.¬† Just helping a neighbor, because small towns create relationships, is something unique.¬† My wife’s aunt moved to a community planned to the Nth degree.¬† Everything was designed from the ground up.¬† It didn’t immediately hit me, but I realized no one was needed.¬† Residents had a fraction of the opportunity to give back anything.¬† I won’t name the place, but it struck me as an incredibly sterile and boring environment.¬† Great food, planned entertainment, themed areas….no parking problem and no traffic issues at all, but the most boring place I’ve ever seen.¬† I enjoy the diversity here in Fernandina, but enjoy being needed and being a part of the community.¬† This place thrives on people and is interesting because we’re all in the process of building something better.¬† Do I love the way Fernandina is at this moment in time?¬† Sure!¬† I also loved it in 1970 and 1980 and 2000, but I also enjoy being a part of the changes as we evolve.¬† ¬†Fernandina is a journey and community.


Measure Results and Unique Mission …Economic Development in Nassau County

Thinking about our local economy and how we promote economic growth/health/vitality in Nassau County, Amelia Island and in Fernandina Beach, it is helpful to look at the stated goals of various agencies, whether funded, elected or created by a state or federal government.    It is hardly surprising we see success in Nassau County and on Amelia Island, but which efforts are producing results and which efforts might overlap or duplicate the work?

I’m including local government in economic development.¬† Every elected official spends time thinking of ways to improve quality of life and economic opportunity.¬† ¬†They usually set a direction, but in the case of Fernandina, the CRA Advisory Board specifically endorses and prioritizes projects relating to development within the CRA.

Amelia Island Tourist Development Council¬† “The goals of the AITDC are to generate visitation to Amelia Island and its attractions/special events, thereby increasing tax revenues, including sales taxes and those imposed on the hospitality industry. In turn, those tax revenues may be used to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the community, provide support for beach renourishment, and ensure a viable hospitality industry.” 11/29/17

Fernandina Beach Main Street¬† “The¬†Fernandina Beach Main Street¬†program promotes sensible, sustained economic growth and enhancements based on local assets, especially historic resources and buildings. Being a Florida Main Street will enable us to maintain a focus on downtown to create greater economic stability, revitalization, sustainability,vitality, quality of life, and civic pride.” 11/29/17

Amelia Island -Fernandina Beach – Yulee Chamber of Commerce¬†¬†“With more than 600 members representing thousands of area employees, the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce speaks with a strong and credible voice for business in Amelia Island FL, Fernandina Beach FL, Yulee FL and Nassau County FL.” 11/29/17

NCEDB (Nassau County Economic Development)¬† “Our mission is simple: to create, grow and attract business investment to Nassau County, Florida and offer high-wage jobs to its residents and our future workforce.¬† Our goal is to create a well-defined identity and brand that defines Nassau County as a desirable location for business.”¬† 11/29/17

HFBA (Historic Fernandina Beach Business Association)¬† “The Downtown Amelia Island page is brought to you by the Historic Fernandina Business Association. The focus of this page is to promote events and businesses who are members of the HFBA and are located in the beautiful downtown area of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.” 11/29/17

CRA (Community Redevelopment Area)¬† “The Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Board is charges with the task of advising the Community Redevelopment Agency on issues including implementation of the CRA Plan by providing recommendations and assistance in identifying and prioritizing projects to be undertaken as consistent with the CRA Plan. The focus of this group is economic development of properties in the City’s established¬†CRA¬†and the adjoining Central Business District with specific consideration on attracting and retaining businesses.” 11/29/17

Ocean Highway and Port Authority “The Ocean Highway & Port Authority, in conjunction with the Port of Fernandina, Kinder Morgan and the other maritime businesses of the port, help stimulate economic growth in Nassau County and the surrounding areas employing skilled workers and supporting surrounding local businesses.”¬† 11/29/17

Fernandina Beach City Commission¬† The FBCC frequently advocates for local economic development and the commission does look ways to benefit the community, both through actions as a commission and through the economic development element of th comprehensive plan.¬† ¬†“The Economic Development Element is intended to establish a link with virtually all aspects of community life, and recognize that economic development is an essential component of a sustainable community. It seeks to support new growth and redevelopment opportunities within the community while balancing the needs of its citizens, its unique character, and its cultural, historical, and environmental resources. This element provides for an articulated and shared vision of where the City wants to go and what things residents and businesses value. It is about working together for a strong economy by creating and retaining desirable jobs, which provide a good standard of living for individuals. To be successful, economic development must function as part of the whole socio-economic environment which is constantly changing and evolving.” 11/29/17

Nassau County Commission¬† Through their comprehensive plan, Nassau County shares a similar goal of¬† “Create and implement an economic development strategy focused on the retention, expansion, and relocation of high wage jobs and targeted businesses. Diversify the County‚Äôs tax and employment base and lessen the tax burden for existing residents and businesses while preserving a sense of community and the County‚Äôs environmental assets.”¬† ¬†https://www.nassaucountyfl.com/DocumentCenter/View/13190¬† 11/29/17

Florida DEO “In collaboration with our partners, DEO assists the Governor in advancing Florida‚Äôs economy by championing the state‚Äôs economic development vision and by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities.”¬† 11/29/17




Bakery, Artist Studio, Yoga, Spin Class, Brewery, Hot Dog Drive Through or Investment?

Thinking a little about the possibilities and drastic price reduction, this strip of 8th Street is, in my view, a glowing opportunity. 122 South 8th was reduced drastically to the current price, but has several things going for it beyond location and price.

Lot size, as much as location is important.¬† The¬†122 South 8th configuration configuration offers so much more potential than a smaller lot.¬† If you see the photo of the street above, this strip of 8th Street has changed a great deal in the last year.¬† Buygo is now open in place of Freds and offers a variety of services, including basic groceries.¬† ¬†David’s Restaurant is a high-end dining location immediately to the left of 122 South 8th.¬† 801 just re-opened in the old Beach Street Grill building to the right and T-Rays is an established restaurant with some of the best burgers on the island, if not “The Best” burgers.¬† ¬† This really is a prime area!

Seeing changes to zoning in the central business district and nearby overlay with design requirements for an area to the south, the entry approaching this site should improve.¬† ¬†See the following link…..8th street changes working document entry

Key improvements to the area, in my view, are the changes to density in the central business district, improvements of nearby businesses and one last advantage.  This building is, or was recently, used as a martial arts studio in the large open room, a bakery and for a private office area with two rooms at the rear of the property.  Thinking of this site as several potential spaces makes quite a difference.  Could you go up for an apartment?  Could you add another business?  Could the rear of the property function well as a courtyard or outdoor dining area?

Ideas we have considered for the property included reopening the bakery, but also have included thoughts of catering, a base for a food truck and catering, coffee shops, an ethnic takeout restaurant or pizza delivery, a brewery, art studios, a consignment shop and living quarters, retail space for marine equipment or just purchase as an investment and rental.



The property is easy to show and I’m always happy to answer questions.¬† My office line will ring through to my mobile…call me anytime if you feel you may have an interest or if you would like me contact a friend.

122 South 8th Street on Amelia Island, FL (MLS Information) $399,000

“Formerly a bakery, there is a full kitchen, prep and cleaning area as well as a location seating impact for 8 seats. Hood remains, but other equipment negotiable only at this price!The adjacent studio, to the left side of the building, is currently used as a martial arts studio, but was an art gallery in the past. Uses might include takeout food service, desert, coffee, or a base for a catering business. The visibility is fantastic and large lot allows ample parking for most businesses. To the rear of the building, an office and work area consists of two rooms. The size of the lot might allow expansion and a live/work arrangement. Note: This is in the historic district and subject to HDC design guidelines for changes to the location. Showings must be with agent or owner present, per owner’s request. Great Traffic count and visibility at the entry to Downtown Historic Fernandina Beach. Note the new zoning, changed recently and added density.”

Clean Slates Every Day

“Lessons from losses and only count the Wins”

I forget about the past, but sometimes a “special” person crosses your path after you were certain you’d never need to think before you speak again.¬† The challenge isn’t in working with the polite or considerate.¬† The challenge is in maintaining a professional demeanor with the morally challenged, rude, inconsiderate and unethical.¬† Details aren’t important, but the person doing something on the border of illegal/unethical, might be the buyer for a listing or doing work for one of your future clients.¬† ¬†20160418_142940000_iOS

An old coffee cup meme said something about professionalism and avoiding choking the especially deserving.¬† Funny as it may look on a coffee cup, controlling emotions when working with the public and leaving personal feelings behind, especially an unpleasant history with an unpleasant person, can take time to learn.¬† I’ve been lucky.¬† ¬†When I’m at work, I only worry about the offer or immediate transaction.¬† I may remember whether someone is generally honorable or how they tend to negotiate, but it isn’t personal.¬† ¬†Once, someone involved in a transaction literally screamed at me for calling their cell phone.¬† It was completely out of character, but I calmly asked for the information I needed and filed away the reaction for future reference.¬† ¬†Another client insisted a deal was off after having too much to drink and calling my home number at midnight.¬† The contingency period was over and treating the conversation the following morning as though we’d never spoken, saved the deal.

We’re all on stage to a degree.¬† Controlling how I react and understanding the way my demeanor could help or hurt a client is a part of being in sales.¬† Sales, acting and psychology are all so close, but controlling reactions and being able to set aside personal feelings is something to cultivate as a real estate broker.¬† ¬†To this day, I remember the good and bad behavior, but I file it away for future reference.

One of the more difficult lessons I still remember was with a site agent years ago.¬† He registered a client on first visit and we were back several times to look.¬† About a month later, they signed a contract and bought a home.¬† It was so blatant, I actually complained to the owner.¬† I still don’t know if the builder/owner was aware, but I suspect this was a rare case of the site representative seeing an increase in compensation if an agent was not involved.¬† ¬† The site agent was “factually challenged”,¬† …the owner believed him and, unable to do much in a bad situation, I let it go.¬† I did make copies of client registrations with that particular builder and the owner seemed to be honorable, just believed the wrong person.¬† Did it change the way I presented property to clients or my demeanor toward the company?¬† Of course not!¬† ¬†It was one of the earliest and most difficult lessons.¬† ¬†Life and real estate isn’t always fair.¬† Being in sales means growing a certain tolerance for bad behavior in others.¬† ¬† Maintaining a professional demeanor and the motivation to do this for years is the mark of a great salesperson.

At some point, I started keeping track of the wins and stopped counting the losses.¬† ¬†Whether I’m calling someone on the phone to ask for business or working with an unpleasant person or situation, the details don’t change my next day or motivation.¬† Sure, I file away the way someone behaves for future reference, but I wake up every day with a clean slate.¬† ¬†The only thing that matters is whether I performed and, if I make mistakes, how will improve in the future.¬† ¬†Professionalism is a clean slate every day.¬† It’s a shame we can’t pass this on to some of our political leaders.¬† Elected to represent us, too many take personal feelings into office and become ineffective over time.

Saving Tips for Early Saving or a Future Homeowner

Reading through the stories of the day on my newsfeed, one “expert” shared some tips to save for a first home.¬† Sadly, most of the tips were either ineffective or just completely wrong.¬† If you really want to save for a home quickly and build equity, these are a few of my personal favorites.¬† ¬†The list works for anyone beginning a new job or leaving school and hoping to save “OR” even buy a home.


My breakfasts became oatmeal, fresh fruit and water…”

Early in life, I decided I didn’t want to pay high interest rates or pay more than I needed for luxury items.¬† A car drops in market value during the first few years and is often within the original warranty period.¬† I always buy an slightly used car with remaining warranty and almost always pay for the car in cash.¬† The only exception was a purchase with 0.5% interest.¬† The rate was so low, I make far more in stock dividends and it would have been foolish not to take the money.¬† I also keep a car a little longer than most and put more into maintaining the car.¬† ¬†My typical time of ownership is 5 to 7 years.¬† During a typical economy, the savings for me amounted to well over half the cost of a car in longer ownership and savings by eliminating interest cost.¬† ¬†So, buy used, don’t trade often and always do the maintenance.¬† Simple tips, but these are overlooked by most of the population.¬† The other benefit of avoiding payments is in preserving your ability to qualify for a loan.¬† See tips from Fannie Mae’s website below and links.¬† Everyone considering a purchase should take the time to consider the links below and consider a visit with a local lender to go through prequalification.¬† ¬†Understanding what you need to do and establishing a budget early makes life simpler when you’re ready.¬† I would also have a local real estate agent add you to an alert list for property and find someone you feel will tell you what you need, not what you want to hear.

  • Affordability Calculator*Figure out the maximum home price you can afford before you start house hunting.
  • Mortgage Calculator*Estimate your monthly mortgage payments based on the home price.
  • Save Calculator*Learn how much money and time you’ll need to meet your down payment savings goal.
  • Debt-to-Income Calculator*Use this tool to estimate your DTI‚ÄĒthe ratio of the amount you pay on your mortgage(s) each month compared to your total monthly gross income.¬†

Source: FNMA Fannie Mae https://www.knowyouroptions.com/  11/25/2017

Another simple tip to save money, budget and build credit is to actually use a credit card.¬† I’ve used cards since college and rarely paid a single penny in interest and never carry a balance.¬† I use the cards to budget and discipline myself to create a budget.¬† You could use a debit card, but I prefer a card with no annual fee and unlimited rebates on purchases.¬† ¬†My current purchases of technology are covered by rebates on credit cards.¬† ¬†I usually see between $1000 and $3000 in savings each year….and that really adds up over time.¬† ¬†I also encourage my kids to use a service like “MINT” to automatically create a budget with suggestions to improve.

What about food?¬† When first starting out, most of us spend too much on food and entertainment.¬† ¬† In the late 80’s, life was simpler, but I wanted to eliminate a housing payment as soon as humanly possible.¬† I thought about it and realized savings in my 20’s and an effort to be ahead of the curve early meant much more than an effort later in life.¬† ¬†So, I looked at where I spent money and saw dollars wasted in evening meals and poorly managed shopping.¬† My breakfasts became oatmeal, fresh fruit and water, lunch was usually a healthy choice at a fast food restaurant (Wendy’s Chili and fruit or¬†burritos) and dinner became simpler…with rice, beans and simple choices more common.¬† Oh…I gave up soft drinks more than 25 years ago.¬† I usually just drink water.¬† ¬†If I had leftovers, they were always eaten later.¬† ¬† I gave up desserts, stopped any alcohol, gave up red meat and substituted a membership at a local gym for other plans in the evening.¬† One night out can be more than the cost of a family membership at the local gym.¬† Doing this for the first year after college put me in a completely different place financially, but arranging your life is easier before obligations grow.¬† ¬†Understanding the importance of saving early and continuing to build this savings snowballs over time.¬† ¬†The changes had an impact on my health and wallet.¬† My weight dropped and I established a habit of spending time in the gym.

You probably know the golden rule, but I began to think about investments, about debt and about basic rules.¬† In less than 2 years, I owned a home, but was saving well over half my income.¬† I borrowed only for things I felt would go up in value more than the cost of the debt.¬† In other words, I only borrowed for real estate purchase.¬† Buying investment property, I wanted rental income to cover expenses and reserves for any future maintenance.¬† ¬†When buying a home, I looked for a location with future potential.¬† What might change and could I keep the home rented?¬† Would I like to live in the home if my budget fell in the price range?¬† ¬†What was an investment?¬† I never thought of flipping property, although I did buy and sell a few properties in shorter periods.¬† ¬† Always thinking “ownership” changes the way you make the buying decision.¬† ¬† ¬† Through it all, I decided to think about what I needed, not what I wanted.¬† Having a goal, other than buying a bigger car or something I could easily live without, made the process easier.¬† Watching people around me, I can think of friends with 2, 3 or 4 new cars in the time I drove the same perfectly maintained, but used, BMW.¬† ¬†Having a budget doesn’t mean you don’t like or enjoy luxury.¬† It should mean you choose where and how to spend money to buy within your budget.¬† Just live within your means and think of it as a lifestyle, not temporary.

Growing up near commercial fishermen, I’ve heard more than one story of someone losing a boat or business during a single bad year.¬† Always keep a reserve.¬† ¬†I like 6 to 12 months at minimum, but it depends on your job and stability.


Election Endorsement for Avila


After only a little thought, I’m endorsing Orlando Avila for City Commission on December 12th.¬† I did take time to think about the remaining choices.¬† It comes down to a candidate seeking ways to make Fernandina better.¬† ¬†Every candidate should want more than stopping all change or delaying every project.¬† Good candidates should all hope to make Fernandina better, not freeze the town…an impossibility, in my opinion.¬† Change or die is true of every town.¬† ¬†We need candidates willing to learn from the past and reflect that past in decisions going forward.¬† I believe Orlando understands the importance of preserving our town “AND” embracing the economic diversity we all need.

Orlando is an adoptive parent several times over and is engaged in the community.¬† He owns a small business and understands the importance of protecting our local economy, but he also understands the importance of local industry.¬† ¬† I’ve known Orlando for about seven or eight years and he hasn’t changed.¬† I like him and trust him.¬† ¬†As a former Mayor and Commissioner, I feel he has the local history we want to see in a representative and respects both the town’s history as well as our rights as residents.

Taken from Orlando’s Website/Facebook Page…..

“I was born and raised in Orlando, FL to Cuban refugee parents, both escaping Cuba in the 1960s.

I have 3 older half-brothers, 2 of whom have passed away.

My mother is one of 12 children and I come from a large extended family.

I worked my way through college and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Public Administration

I married my college sweetheart Janel (FBHS class of 1995) in 2000 at St. Michaels Church here in Fernandina and we moved here in 2001 to be closer to her parents and to enjoy a slower pace of life compared to the hustle and bustle of Orlando.

I worked for the State of Florida for about 8 years in several capacities, last as a Probation & Parole Officer.

I left the public service to work in the private sector, going to work for Seaboard Marine in their office here in Fernandina in November 2007

In October 2012 I was faced with Seaboard Marine closing their local office with minimal notice. I decided, with some encouragement from my boss and mentor, to strike out on my own that day. With his assistance I set about incorporating All American Ship Agents, setting up bank accounts and getting all the other necessary things lined up to set off on a new journey of being a business owner.

I walked out of my office that day with a newly formed company, an existing account, and the promise of future business from some new accounts and existing clients.

Then I went home and told my wife.

All the while we were in the midst of finalizing our third adoption.

Needless to say it was a harrowing experience, one that I am better for today than I can begin to explain.

We have struggled and sacrificed and made it work, and we have been able to buy our dream home and make our life here in Fernandina Beach and we wouldn’t have it any other way so when folks ask about why I’m running, it’s because I want everyone to be able to have the opportunities I have had, and through hard work and perseverance achieve goals that were once thought to be so lofty and untenable.”¬† Source:¬†https://www.facebook.com/Orlando4Fernandina/ 11/19/17



Not in my backyard!


It seems to be increasingly rare to move to a town and understand everything changes.¬† The average newcomer wants to freeze Fernandina…just as it was when they chose to live on the island. I’ve lived here for most of my life and the only constant thing is change.¬† Back in the 60’s, we were a far different place.¬† Through the 70’s and development of South Amelia, the growth to a 6 lane highway from Yulee in 2017/18, and diminishing of the shrimp fleet, a lot changed!¬† I remember the drawbridge and a fraction of the restaurants we see now.¬† I remember the first condominiums and driving the entire beach, including behind Fort Clinch.

The recent election was the last Fernandina Beach election with three year terms.¬† ¬†Voter turnout was low and electing representation with only 25% of the registered voters is terrible!¬† I hope to see better turnouts in the future and a more consistent commission when every other year is election and politics free.¬† ¬†The NIMBY title has to do with the choices people make when they move here and then begin to think about a commissioner.¬† ¬†Being against things is easy.¬† I’m against a few things.¬† When shifting to the mode you should be in as a commissioner, plans for something better are important.¬† Do we want a representative to simply look for new ways to slow change?¬† A few years ago, I ran for office and can remember why I chose to run.¬† ¬†The commission seemed disfunctional and I could see the public annoyance over the way change was being managed. ¬†Decisions are good or bad and judging from the sidelines can be equivalent to being a back seat driver with a partial view.¬† Once elected, I became informed.¬† ¬†Positions I thought were reasonable before, were no longer so reasonable and people insisting it was all wrong only made sense part of the time.¬† ¬†My point is that wearing the hat makes a big difference. Being elected means being willing to learn.


My advice is to carefully consider candidates.¬† If you see a candidate willing to hear you and “agenda free”, you’re probably looking at a potentially good candidate.¬† If you see someone with a personal ax to grind, being impartial in a meeting is not likely.¬† ¬†Candidates run, myself included, sometimes because they want to change something and hope to make something better.¬† Good candidates have ideas.¬† Bad candidates want to stop what they see as negative progress, not because they hope to make the town better, but because they bring a personal agenda to an issue.

This is opinion, but based on years of watching Fernandina and time in office to consider how I might learn to be a better commissioner.

Thoughts and Good Choices
  • Vested interest in Fernandina
  • Not an activist.
  • Not unusually litigious…costs the taxpayer eventually.
  • Ideas for things, not against things.
  • Vote for the candidates, not against a personality.
  • Look at their past history, work, legal, etc.
  • Understand limit of position. Set policy, not running of city day to day.
  • Does personal background bring anything to the office? My background in real estate, contracting. degree and native to Amelia Island was a good match.
  • How long have they lived on the island and do they have a financial interest? Align interests and they work for us 24 hours a day.
  • Will they stick to the job or go off on tangents? No need to explain….just focus on Fernandina.
  • Last, I usually avoid candidates with an ego. They feel entitled and stop listening. That said, I have endorsed based on aligned interests, intelligence and time living here, even if the ego is a little strong.

Airport Terminal Construction Takes Off…….‚úą

Typical Airport in Lake City…Amazing Building

I’ve heard some interesting comments on the airplane shaped terminal building being built at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.¬† I don’t agree with

Original Concept Drawing for Fernandina’s New Building

the design choice and feel the price is likely higher to build a custom airplane shape.¬† While the idea of building a terminal was approved when I was in office…the building morphed from a building closer to, what I thought would be similar to the Lake City building on the right to the Airplane shape on the left.¬† Design discussion began in January of 2016, about a month after I left office.¬† Does it fly?¬† No, but the cost is a “LOT” higher than the 2 million range we felt would be more than enough to build a great building.¬† ¬†In my opinion, the cost and any delays, will be based on the unusual design choices.¬† Does it matter if the building looks like an airplane?¬† Do we see an additional $2.5 million dollars of utility?¬† Grant money or not, I don’t like waste.¬† ¬†Airports seem to thrive on matching money for grants.¬† DOT, FAA…look at the resolution below and over $2.8 million in grant funding.¬† ¬†Spending money on a building in advance….could this overage have a much bigger future impact on the airport as money ordinarily used for airport grant match is committed for this structure?

Considering future developments and grant money used for infrastructure on the other side of the airport, does this change the airport’s future and is past expense now wasted?

SYNOPSIS: In October, 2015, the City Commission approved execution of a Fixed Base Operator Use and Lease Agreement authorizing Eight Flags Aviation, LLC to operate as a fixed base operator as of April 1, 2018, in the City’s new terminal building. The City Commission also approved a contract to construct a new Airport Terminal, which will be occupied by Airport staff and rented by Eight Flags Aviation, LLC, a fixed base operator. Eight Flags Aviation has offered financial contributions, in the form of prepaid rent to be repaid in rent credits over time (50% of rent offset in rent credits and 50% rent paid to City by Eight Flags), toward the design and construction of the new terminal¬†¬† ¬†and¬†¬† ¬†other¬†¬† ¬†Airport¬†¬† ¬†improvements,¬†¬† ¬†including¬†¬† ¬†upgrades¬†¬† ¬†to¬†¬† ¬†the¬†¬† ¬†fuel¬†¬† ¬†farm¬†¬† ¬†and¬†¬† ¬†ramp¬†¬† ¬†apron¬†¬† ¬†improvements.¬† ¬†Source: www.fbfl.org 11/9/17

GenFile (10)

Interesting reading….but an early or the first design meeting.


Snip of original welcome center planning minutes and attendance….see full pdf below.

2016 01-14 Airport Welcome Center Planning Committee Minutes

Tax Deeds and Auction Process is Fair

Post Office Renovations….will this eventually be an auction property?

So, you’re interested in buying a property at auction?¬† The process is often misunderstood, but the bidding is actually the simple part.¬† Consider the title and other debt potentially remaining after the sale.¬† ¬†One part of the process, often misunderstood, is the purchase.¬† Tax sales come after the sale of a tax certificate for unsold taxes.¬† After a period of time, the investor has the right to ask to be repaid.

If someone buys a certificate on a property, the certificate holder has no claim on the property, however, two years after taxes became delinquent, the certificate holder can place a Tax Deed Application on your property. (Example Р2017 unpaid taxes which had a certificate sold by June 1st of 2018, can have a Tax Deed Application made on it beginning on April 1st, 2020). After a tax deed is made, the property will be scheduled for auction and sold to the highest bidder.  The process insures a property cannot be sold immediately after taxes are unpaid, but the tax collection does move forward in a timely manner.  The clock is ticking when you fail to pay and everyone should take unpaid taxes seriously.  Typical reasons a property might actually be auctioned for unpaid taxes can include a death of an owner without heirs, unpaid liens exceeding the value of the property, loans exceeding the value or even environmental issues.  An owner, in my opinion, rarely chooses to lose a property for unpaid taxes without years of warning and that same time to seek a buyer on the open market.

The Clerk‚Äôs office is not authorized to give legal advice or assist in the research of properties. All properties are sold ‚Äúas is,‚ÄĚ and bidders are responsible for conducting their own research as to the condition of the property and the state of the title of the property being sold. If you require legal advice, you should obtain it from a licensed attorney. ¬† For each piece of property purchased, the successful high bidder is required to pay a non-refundable deposit equal to 5 percent of the final bid or $200, whichever is greater, at the time of the sale. If the successful bidder fails to immediately post the deposit, the bid is deemed invalid and the bidding starts over.Once the bidding starts, it cannot be interrupted. If you win the bid, you can pay only with cash.In accordance with state law, the highest bidder has 24 hours to pay any costs associated with the sale. However, the Clerk’s Office encourages payment be made the same business day as the sale in an attempt to expedite the processing of sale.This is a sale of the Clerk’s interest in the property, not necessarily a clear and marketable title to the property.For more information on Tax Deed Sales, call the Recording Department at 904-548-4604.Tax Deed Sale Information is now available at the following link: Tax Deeds¬† ¬†Source: NASSAU COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS & COMPTROLLER

The red text above is why a client buying at auction often calls my office.¬† I may not be able to assist with title issues, but I do have access to market information.¬† I’m usually able to give an opinion of market value, discuss repairs needed and offer an opinion of time to sell.¬† I typically provide automated estimates of value and “Net to Seller” estimates to give a buyer a better feel for their potential profit if they are the successful bidder.¬† I also know local attorneys willing to research the title and offer their opinion prior to a purchase.¬† I would always recommend a good look at any available surveys, environmental information and thorough research of the debt potentially remaining after a purchase.¬† ¬†Auctions can be profitable or an expensive mistake and even professionals can make a mistake without the proper research.