Building plan denied

St. Augustine City Commission voted 4-0 last night to deny a proposed reprise of the turn of the 20th century “Bishop’s Building” at St. George Street and Cathedral Place and later voted 4-1 to overturn a 2003 resolution that allowed the building plan.

Sixteen speakers were split 8-8 on the Bishop’s Building plan during an hour-long public hearing before the vote. But much of the commission’s following discussion questioned that 2003 revision – a resolution to allow buildings compatible with adjacent buildings in three historic districts, regardless of style, rather than the original colonial period requirement.

Commissioner Don Crichlow, architect for the Bishop’s Building project, recused himself from the earlier discussion, but cast the dissenting vote on the resolution.

Architect Jerry Dixon raised the question during public comment, and City Atty. Ron Brown agreed, “We may have an ordinance and resolution inconsistent with our comprehensive plan, and that would make them invalid.”

Commissioners later passed the resolution, over Crichlow’s objections, to return to required colonial building style throughout Historic Preservation Districts 1, 2, and 3. That resolution had been prompted because, City Planning and Building Director Mark Knight said, the 2003 resolution “does not clearly identify the intent of the adoption.”

“You should seriously consider,” Crichlow urged the board, “that by allowing only colonial architecture, you’re not going to be able to adequately identify and provide fact-based colonial reconstruction.”

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