Regan wants public consensus on building heights


City Manager John Regan has previously recommended to Historic City News reporters that “until we can do some consensus-building in the community” any decision to further restrict the building heights in Historic Preservation District Three should be delayed.

He made his point again last night during the regular meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission, in response to remarks by Mayor Joe Boles about the way in which the proposed modification is being packaged.

Spanish Street resident, 79 year-old Robert M. Hall, has long battled what he says are abuses of “height and scale elements” in the historic preservation districts; calling, among other things, for a strict limit of 27 feet to roof peaks.

After receiving reports that the Historic Architectural Review Board and the City’s Planning and Zoning board appeared to have dismissed a request to consider lower building heights in the area north of Hypolita Street, Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said “We have a responsibility to take this very seriously”.

Hall, who is co-founder of the Historic Florida Militia and the retired head of Flagler College’s Art Department, says that the current limit of 35 feet is too tall and the greater scale is “inappropriate for colonial representation”.

While the boards were concerned the change would violate property rights and bring lawsuits, Hall suggested current properties could be “grandfathered”.

Mayor Boles was concerned that the City Commission request for the review by the lower boards was packaged with a proposed amendment to allow alternate building styles in the preservation district south of the Plaza.

“This is just the kind of confusion that got us into trouble with previous legislation,” Boles said; referring to a modification in HP1 several years ago that was erroneously extended to all three preservation districts.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer