When will Bryan return the McDaniel favor?

The re-election campaign of County Commissioner Ken Bryan, who championed extending drinking hours, and who, as a result, won favor with bar owners in both St Augustine and St Augustine Beach, is in political debt to controversial wheeler-dealer Philip McDaniel and Historic City News readers are asking when McDaniel will come to collect.

McDaniel and his Cultural Council cohorts, all of whom feed at the trough of public grants and taxpayer handouts to subsidize the elite style of living to which they feel we all should subscribe (and pay for), are putting up monetary donations, making in-kind contributions and writing emotional letters on behalf of Bryan’s re-election bid.

Tuesday, Philip McDaniel and Ryan Detra, holding the proxies of the four owners of the dilapidated warehouse at 110 Riberia Street, through their attorney, will ask the Planning and Zoning Board to approve “Ice Plant Properties PUD” in order to work around some problems with converting a 90-year-old building to a 21st-century liquor distillery.

Detra, who was fired as the General Manager of the St Johns County Cultural Events Division in December 2010, wants to operate a bar on the site and McDaniel says he thinks a trendy distillery complements the San Sebastian Winery at Malaga Street where candidate Ken Bryan held a kick-off fundraiser, supported financially by McDaniel.

McDaniel has already been granted one variance to work around the fact that the property has no room for parking.

Other problems to work around include the fact that the site has no setbacks, as required by the Zoning Code.

Also, the site violates “impervious surface” ratios and lot coverage maximums.

McDaniel is the “idea man”. He does not own the warehouse where other businesses have tried and failed to be successful. Were the deteriorating structure to be substantially damaged, and not rebuilt within a year, it could not be rebuilt.

The actual owners need a Planned Unit Development to be assured that the present non-conforming structures are treated as “conforming” and separate ownership of space will be allowed.

McDaniel is clever. He weaseled out of the “public-private partnership” leaving the city holding the bag on the Upchurch Skate Park that nearly had the neighbors shooting at the commission. Normally not moved by such political blundering, Mayor Boles later said in an open commission meeting, “If I ever support another public-private partnership like this, please throw something at me.”

Now McDaniel wants to subdivide the single parcel into two commercial spaces with separate ownership; likely to insulate himself from liquor law liability, but, he is not saying other than to say in his petition that there, “may be an advantage”.

If you are planning to attend — the monthly St Augustine Planning and Zoning Board meeting will begin at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, 2012, and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of the west wing of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine. The full meeting agenda is available online at this link.

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