Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gerbing Road a Canopy Road? Amelia Island: Residents Want It; County Reluctant

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gerbing Road a Canopy Road? Amelia Island: Residents Want It; County Reluctant

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Winds whisper against the live oak and magnolia trees on Gerbing Road, and private homes peek from behind Spanish moss. Sunlight tiptoes through an umbrella of leaves and branches.

Gerbing Road residents want to protect that natural umbrella and have petitioned Nassau County to officially make Gerbing a "scenic/canopy road," but county planners worry that will impede future road upgrades.

Officials with the county Planning and Engineering departments asked the Nassau County Commission to withdraw the proposed ordinance, but commissioners refused.

The county Planning and Zoning Board will have a public hearing on the issue Tuesday. The planning board then will make a recommendation to commissioners, who make the final decision.

"There are no plans to do anything with Gerbing Road right now," county Senior Planner Mark Major said. "But because of larger road issues in the county, there's potential in the future."

The nearly half-mile, two-lane stretch on Amelia Island quietly wends its way beside a residential neighborhood to the Amelia River. There are no plans on the table for large-scale construction, but several parcels of land remain undeveloped.

The property from Buccaneer Trail to the Amelia River on Amelia Island once was Gerbing Gardens, a 15-acre show garden that featured 250,000 camellias and azaleas. The tourist attraction, which closed in 1950, was built and run by island native Gustav George Gerbing.

Gerbing Road meets the requirements to be named a county canopy road, officials said. At least 51 percent of the residents had to sign a petition to put the proposal on the table -- 100 percent on Gerbing Road approved it.

"There was not a single objection; that means we have 100 percent desire to protect our trees," said Evelyn Jastram, who started the petition. "I am just horrified by what's happening to the trees on our island. . . . It's very beautiful, and I don't want some developer to come in there so that they can knock them all down and squeeze every last house he can squeeze in. …

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