December 13, 2023
On April 24th, four county commissioners (Martin, Huppman, Gray and Farmer) voted a green light for Riverstone to construct eleven towers, each more than 85 feet high, next to the state park on Amelia Island. The agreement included a $250,000 payment from the county to Riverstone for the project.
The commissioners (except Alyson McCullough) did this despite:
An ordinance passed by the county commission two years earlier, limiting new construction to 45 feet, and
The unanimous testimony of concerned citizens at an overflow commission hearing.
CARD (Citizens Against Runaway Development) was formed the following week on behalf of those citizens. It immediately filed suit to set aside the county’s sweetheart agreement with Riverstone. CARD has since been joined by the Amelia Tree Conservancy (ATC) to block this development.
We have some good news to report. For the past eight months the county and Riverstone have vigorously opposed the right of citizen groups like CARD and ATC to even challenge the development. Last week, after months of expensive litigation practice, they conceded on the courthouse steps before a hearing on the issue.
We are encouraged and optimistic of achieving a positive final result sometime in the next year. We have a strong legal team, led by Reese Henderson and Julia Mandell from the Gray Robinson firm. They have been very effective and efficient in battling the County/Riverstone team.
However, the county and Riverstone both want very much for this project to go forward. They have deep pockets for opposing any litigation to block it. The county’s attorneys have spent freely to challenge the most trivial issues.
Next year promises to be expensive for the citizens. Many have already donated generously to CARD in this effort, and we thank you for that support. We are asking again for your help, so that funding does not become an issue before we secure justice from the court.
CARD and ATC both qualify as 501(c)3 organizations. Accordingly, donations to CARD (or the Riverstone Fund at ATC) are deductible as charitable contributions.
Please help us ensure that we have the resources necessary to stand against the County/Riverstone team in 2024. You can donate by going to our websites:
Thank you for your support and have a happy holiday season!
Lyn Pannone, President, Amelia Tree Conservancy
Corky Hoffman, President CARD