Alligator Farm wants happy neighbors

400-ALLIGATOR-FEEDINGWhen St Augustine Alligator Farm goes to City Hall in January, they are hoping to avoid the drama experienced by the proposed 7-Eleven on San Marco Avenue, when the popular Anastasia Boulevard attraction asks for construction permits to develop about 11 acres of adjacent property.

Some neighbors, whose property is zoned residential and abuts the commercial land owned by the zoological park, have expressed concerns that further encroachment off the highway into the neighborhood, will create a nuisance in the otherwise quiet subdivision.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Park Director John Brueggen told a reporter with Cox Media Group in a newscast earlier today. “We’ve been here 120 years — which means we’ve been here longer than most of our neighbors; but we still want them to be comfortable with us.”

The Alligator Farm is owned by St Augustine resident David Drysdale; whose father, W. I. Drysdale, and F. Charles Usina, purchased the park from its founders in 1937.

If the Alligator Farm gets the permit, it hopes to build a new parking lot that could be used as early as February; and, a children’s zipline would be built that could open by the end of 2013. The Alligator Farm says the plans should help the neighborhood — cutting down traffic by adding the new parking lot.

But, as in the 7-Eleven controversy in North City, some neighbors will continue to complain — even though the Alligator Farm is already the owner of the property at issue. “We still need proper permitting before we can go ahead with construction,” Brueggen told reporters. “For that we’ll have to get our concept past the city and past frustrated neighbors.”

Brueggen says that the park has already offered to “leave a nice, big 50-foot tree buffer” between the construction and the nearby front yards. “They’ll still be looking at nice trees.”

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