Tonight, Historic City News reporters were pleased to observe the first commission meeting of the City of St Augustine, broadcast over the Internet in nearly a year.
With Commissioner Leanna Freeman absent, a four-commissioner Board moved forward with the evening’s agenda. It would not be long before Freeman’s vote would be missed.
The commission heard an appeal brought forward by James Whitehouse on behalf of the developers of a proposed 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station, to determine if the Historic Architectural Review Board erred when they upheld the Architectural Review Official’s determination relevant to 179 San Marco Avenue.
The official, Planning and Building Director Mark Knight, denied a permit for construction of the store and parking lot; finding that the city’s entry corridor rules require that driveways through curb cuts on San Marco Avenue must be no wider than 24′ — 7-Eleven had asked for 30′. When Whitehouse made his case before HARB, they upheld the Architectural Review Official’s determination
But, tonight — a twist. Whitehouse says that he has conferred with his client and they are willing to modify the plans; indicating that the developer would “make-do” with the 24′ width requirement and comply fully with the entrance corridor guidelines. He asked that the commission remand the application, with modifications.
Immediately before the item was heard, some 28-people addressed the commissioners during public comment to object to the development; with the exception of B. J. Kalaidi, who believes that the applicant’s property rights outweigh the complaints from Nelmar Terrace neighbors.
The first motion to sustain the HARB decision, made by Nancy Sikes-Kline, received a second from Mayor Joe Boles. Commissioner Don Crichlow, an architect, and Commissioner Roxxane Horvath, also an architect, voted “no” — commenting the legal battle is just getting started if you do not afford the applicant an opportunity to file an amended plan.
But, a second motion, made by Crichlow, to remand the applicant back to HARB with an amended application, received support from Horvath, but this time, Sikes-Kline and Boles voted “no”, so it failed.
Procedurally, if a proposition comes for a vote, and the results are a tie, as in this case 2-to-2, the proposition fails. Freeman’s vote would have decided the issue.
The attorney, Whitehouse, says the next step is to get letters from FDOT that they will approve 24′ driveways, and then resubmit with the appropriate documents.