On October 11, the City Council discussed further revisions to the proposed change to the height limit in the Charter. The next step will be to schedule a public Open House to give the public an opportunity to provide input on the proposed changes before the height limit change is placed on the 2022 ballot. Because some of the Council members questioned whether the height limit, parking or other factors are preventing developers from developing the downtown, the City will also be creating a survey to get input from local developers and downtown property owners on the things they consider roadblocks to developing the downtown area.

CITIZENS WILL VOTE ON ANY HEIGHT LIMIT CHANGES
Because the height limit was approved by 76% of the voters in 2004, the height limit has been memorialized in the City Charter. The only way the height limit can change would be for voters to VOTE to approve the change through a Charter Amendment on the 2022 ballot. The citizens who worked to get the height limit placed in the City Charter in 2004, did this to ensure any future changes to the height limit would have to be approved by the voters of Jacksonville Beach, and could not be changed by only 4 votes of the City Council.

Proposed Charter Language adding 2(b) – DRAFT:

(2) (a) In order to further protect the public health, safety, general welfare, and aesthetics, no new building height shall exceed thirty-five (35) feet, nor shall any existing building be altered to cause it to exceed a building height of thirty-five (35) feet.

(b) The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) may award a height bonus of up to twenty (20) feet, for a total of fifty-five (55) feet, within the boundaries of the Central Business District (CBD) as such boundaries exist as of January 1, 2022. The proposed project must comply with incentive eligibility criteria established within the Downtown CRA Plan, and is conditioned upon final approval by City Council. This height bonus will terminate with the dissolution of the Downtown CRA, either in whole or for that portion covering the CBD.

To read the current height limit language in the City Charter that was approved by voters in 2004:
Jax Beach Charter РSection 52 Height Limit Language 

The City Manager has proposed the following possible Incentive Eligibility Criteria for Height Bonus (the following are examples only) to give City Council, CRA and citizens an idea of the kinds of criteria that could allow developers to increase the height of their development in the CBD beyond 35 feet:

Example Mandatory Criteria:

  • The project site must be at least one half of one block, and composed of at least the entire north, south, east or west half of the block, at a minimum.
  • Structured parking is part of the project, either on-site, through a partnership with a third party, or through a DA with the City
  • Mixed use development is proposed for the site, with commercial/retail on at least the first floor
  • Building step back of at least __ feet after the first __ feet of height
  • Architectural design must meet criteria established in the CRA Plan (to be determined)
  • Selection of at least ____ (X) of the Optional criteria listed below

Example Optional Criteria:

  • Enhanced setbacks around the perimeter of the building (mandatory on identified corridors)
  • Dedication of additional right of way (for identified corridors) to support enhanced pedestrian access
  • Creation of outdoor dining for public use
  • Creation of rooftop amenities for public use (dining, bar, etc.)
  • Ground level pedestrian shade/cover enhancements (arcades, overhangs, etc.)
  • Creation of workforce housing of at least __% of all residential units proposed in the project
  • Dedication of public plaza/public access green space at no less than __% of the site gross square footage (preference on corners at street intersections)
  • Installation of public art in an area accessible to the public valued at no less than __% of the construction valuation of the project
  • Enhanced landscaping
  • Green Building Design using LEED standards
  • Publicly accessible amenities (restrooms, bicycle parking, etc.)
  • The installation or provision of any other public amenities subject to a Development Agreement with the City

THE MORE CRITERIA MET, THE MORE HEIGHT PERMITTED
The City Manager has suggested the CRA and City Council consider requiring developers to incorporate a certain number of these incentive criteria (i.e. 5 of these criteria) to be allowed to increase the height by 10 feet. Likewise, if the developer incorporates more of these criteria (i.e. 8 or more – or whatever the CRA and Council determine), they could be allowed to increase the height of the development by 20 feet.

OPEN HOUSE FOR COMMUNITY INPUT
There will be an Open House scheduled soon to obtain citizen input on the proposed change to the height limit. Beaches Watch will send out an email to our members with the date and time for the Open House.

PROVIDE YOUR COMMENTS
Citizens can provide feedback to the Mayor and City Council regarding the proposed height limit change via email:  CONTACT MAYOR AND COUNCIL

WATCH THE COUNCIL DISCUSSION
For more information, you can listen to the City Council discussion in the October 11 briefing about the revised height limit language here:

You can also watch the September 27, 2021 City Council discussion about changing the height limit: