At Monday night’s commission meeting, Historic City News recorded repeated objections from Nelmar Terrace neighbors who are battling a proposed 7-Eleven convenience store and gas pumps; despite reminders from Mayor Boles and city attorney Ron Brown that the matter will not come before the commission — unless formally appealed.
The long vacant commercial property located at San Marco Avenue and May Street is the site for the proposed 7-Eleven store; seen to be a welcome convenience by some — but anathema to neighbors saying the site design will force motorists through the National Register Historic District neighborhood.
Skip Hutton, who was an outspoken critic of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in the recent code violation and eminent domain controversy within the Nelmar Terrace community, announced that a public meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm on Monday, July 16 in the Alcazar Room at City Hall with representatives from 7-Eleven on hand to discuss neighborhood concerns.
So far, the project is moving forward full steam. Under current zoning for that site, the project is an allowed use. The developer was required to obtain Planning and Zoning Board approval to remove preserved trees, but that approval was granted.
Armed with design drawings obtained from Director of Planning and Building Mark Knight, Historic City News editor Michael Gold spoke with a number of patrons at the nearby Dunkin Donuts to get their opinions of the proposed convenience store and filling station.
Responses were mixed — some did not care for the potential added congestion at an intersection that is arguably one of the area’s poorest designs. Several local residents lamented the Florida Department of Transportation decision to allow St Johns County to build the library at Davenport Park — rather than straightening SR-A1A (May Street) to connect directly to Ponce de Leon Boulevard (US-1).
The majority of people who commented for Historic City News were not particularly concerned about the convenience store; in fact, when they looked at our drawings, quite a few remarked that it was the nicest looking 7-Eleven they could recall.
The return of gasoline was perceived as a very welcome product, since it has been absent from San Marco Avenue for years. Those who expressed an opinion said they favored pulling in to a station along “Business US-1” than along “Highway US-1”. One young couple remarked that they felt “safer” along San Marco Avenue than standing outside of their car on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
Residents of Nelmar Terrace who spoke before the commission Monday night said they, too, felt safe in their neighborhood — with its heavy canopy of trees, wide sidewalks, and normally peaceful atmosphere. However, neighborhood association vice president Matthew Shaffer said the “24-hour package liquor, convenience store, and gas station” will forever change the look of North City.