Development Disputes, Lawsuits Spark Fireworks

Fernandina Beach residents have mounted vigorous challenges over several much-publicized developments.

Shrimp Festival Friday Night Fireworks

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.

–Steve’s Marketplace —

Nassau County residents did not have to wait until the 4th of July to experience fireworks this year – we have had plenty in our area. And these fireworks are hardly fizzling.

The display has varied by type, timing, tumult. The biggest explosion has been between the county and the Rayonier-led development at Wildlight. This dispute has evolved into a contentious lawsuit. Not to be outshined, Fernandina Beach residents have mounted vigorous challenges over several much-publicized developments.

And we are not near any grand climax. The disputes and lawsuits fester, to the detriment of the community. The lawsuit between the county and Rayonier presents the most detriment. Rayonier is the biggest landowner here and our most vital corporate partner.

The lawsuit has taken several twists, and negotiations have stalled. It looks like a judge will decide who pays for what in the expansive Wildlight neighborhood. There are big price tags in this battle.

Residents have felt a whirlwind of emotions, from fear to anger and then rage. The city and county governments have faced momentous opposition, pre-occupying them. In the city, one development is blocked by a court challenge, and another is setting up for one, according to reports.

The Amelia Bluff subdivision on Citrona Drive started the cascade of saber-rattling. A legal challenge by a citizens’ group has stopped further activity, after city commissioners surprisingly sided with the developer in the matter – against fierce outrage. The development was inadvertently approved by the city even though it sits on or near protected land.

And a proposed development on the Amelia River Golf Course has heightened emotions in the community. The auto-centric theme of the project revved up the passions of residents living near it, fearful the anticipated noise and activity would endanger their tranquility.

Still, another proposed development on the south end of Amelia Island has not gotten far enough to generate much opposition. But homeowners are waiting, and watching. Also on the south end, Amelia Island Plantation residents appear to have settled a lawsuit with the Omni Hotel Group over the status of the Ocean Links Golf Course.

There is still other friction in the community, over beach access and the city marina – and other impactful developments. It’s a prevailing theme of local residents desperately holding onto their serene lifestyles as big-money developers come noisily calling.

Enjoy the 4th of July weekend, and the spectacular fireworks all around the county. You deserve a much-needed break from the political fireworks, for a day anyway.

Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas, Financial Advisor


Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on website: He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of some of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].