The Truth about Nassau County’s dispute with Raydient
As discussions about the future of how to fund Nassau County’s parks continue in our community, it is important to understand the facts.
Nov 15 UPDATE:
Regrettably, due to Nassau County’s unlawful actions and inaccurate public statements, Raydient Places + Properties and other Rayonier subsidiaries have sought court intervention to fully protect their property rights. The lawsuit details the history of the County’s improper actions targeted at Raydient and other Rayonier subsidiaries, including the County’s recent enactment of a municipal service taxing unit ordinance over the East Nassau Community Planning Area (ENCPA), as well as the County’s misleading interpretation of the East Nassau Stewardship District Bill.
In accordance with the County’s regulations for residential development, Raydient complied with its proportionate fair share requirements by agreeing that residential builders will pay the County’s standard recreation impact fees, and at buildout, residential developers will have donated more than 700 acres of land to the County for parks and recreation facilities. As part of its basic legal function, the County then has the responsibility to construct and maintain public community and regional park facilities on the donated land.
However, in this case, after Raydient obtained development approvals in the ENCPA, the County coercively attempted to require Raydient and the Stewardship District to additionally fund millions of dollars for the construction and maintenance of public community and regional park facilities. Essentially, requiring Raydient to construct and maintain parks in the ENCPA into perpetuity would be supplanting a function of Nassau County government – a function the County collects property taxes for, as well as impact fees from builders when permits are pulled. This effort by the County was in part driven by the County’s existing parks and recreation deficiencies, which the County has admitted resulted from its own poor planning and fiscal mismanagement. Simply put, what Nassau County has tried to coerce from Raydient over the last couple of years is unprecedented and unlawful.
When Raydient refused to yield to the County’s demands and serve as its bailout, the County retaliated against Raydient by enacting an unlawful municipal services taxing unit ordinance that encompassed only the ENCPA property. This ordinance unfairly requires Raydient and the other property owners within the ENCPA to disproportionately bear the burden of funding the County’s historic parks and recreation deficiencies.
As to the dispute over the interpretation of the Stewardship District Bill, the County has falsely asserted that certain language in the bill obligates Raydient and the Stewardship District to construct and maintain parks and recreation facilities. Either the County misunderstood the bill, or has been creating the false impression to the public that the Stewardship District Bill creates “obligations” that simply do not exist.
Download a copy of the Raydient Complaint 11-13-18
The bottom line is:
- The dispute is about who pays for fixing Nassau County's current backlog of needs for parks and recreation facilities.
- Nassau County's own regulations require the County to construct and maintain its parks and recreation facilities.
- For decades, the County has poorly planned and underfunded all public facilities, including recreation, while approving many thousands of new residential units.
- For many years, Nassau County has collected impact fees that were too low to build the facilities needed due to growth.
- Additionally, the County failed to collect its low impact fees for more than five years and that made the backlog even worse.
- It is illegal for Nassau County to try to force new developments to pay for the County’s existing shortage of public facilities.
The solution is economic development:
- Bring more jobs to Nassau County.
- Bring more non-residential investment to Nassau County.
- Raise the quality and standards of residential development within the County.
- The East Nassau Community Planning Area (“ENCPA”) achieves these goals.
- The 24,000-acre ENCPA is the result of many years of collaboration between Nassau County and Raydient to promote a higher quality of development, create jobs and bring private non-residential investment.
- It was approved by the Board of County Commissioners in 2011, after more than 5 years of planning and many public meetings.
- It includes more than 700 acres of land to be donated for public parks and recreation facilities.
- It includes more than 12,000 donated acres for perpetual conservation in the Conservation Habitat Network – an area almost three quarters the size of Amelia Island and the largest wildlife land conservation effort in Nassau County history!
- Nassau County says Raydient committed to pay for all ENCPA public parks and recreation facilities but cannot produce any record to support that claim.
- The only “Commitments” Raydient made to the County are contained in the ENCPA land use approvals and County regulations and are a matter of public record. These are those Commitments:
- Nassau County 2030 Comprehensive Plan Recreation and Open Space Element and Capital Improvements Element
- East Nassau Community Planning Area - Master Land Use Plan (Object. FL.13, Policies FL.13.01-17)
- East Nassau Community Planning Area - Mobility Fee Agreement (May 2011)
- East Nassau Community Planning Area - Amended Mobility Plan and Fee Agreement (June 2015)
- Detailed Specific Area Plan #1 - Development Order (May 2013)
- Detailed Specific Area Plan #1 - Development Order Amendment (May 2015)
- Detailed Specific Area Plan #1 - Public Facilities Analysis (October 2014)
- Market Street Preliminary Development Plan (Revised November 2017)
- Nassau County Impact Fee Ordinance (Ord. 2016-02)