Preservationist commissioner advances agenda

After hearing two Planning and Zoning Board appeals, challenging approval of a tree removal at 21-A Casanova Road and approval of a “use-by-exception” for a scooter rental business at 125-A King Street, St Augustine City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline will sponsor a pitch for increased spending on her preservationist agenda tomorrow night.

In order to accommodate holiday absences of the commissioners, and city office closing for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, the regular meeting normally held on Monday night has been rescheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday November 14, 2012; and will be the only regular meeting this month.

A ten-minute presentation by Rhey Palmer that is being sponsored by Sikes-Kline, will critically address public notification and participation of city residents as community stakeholders in the planning, zoning, licensing and permitting activities of the city. Palmer is the president of Neighborhood Council of St Augustine, Inc.

City Commissioner Sikes-Kline was a member of a seven-person ad hoc Historic Preservation Committee created in 2003 by former Mayor George Gardner that laid out short term, intermediate and long range recommendations for preservation of the city’s historic assets.

According to the former mayor’s periodic publication, The St Augustine Report, Gardner observed that Sikes-Kline is “reviving and moving those recommendations forward”.

Among those recommendations, a stronger demolition ordinance, greater support of the city’s archaeological program, protection of historic sites and objects along with buildings, and a revolving fund for preservation and maintenance work.

After the Palmer presentation, Sikes-Kline will introduce her own resolution that has some political observers questioning her claims of allegiance to “Republican” and “conservative” ideals — in light of her predictable voting history on the City Commission.

The resolution, if approved tomorrow night, requires the City Commission to consider additions and amendments to the City’s Code of Ordinances to allow taxpayer funds to be spent on privately owned properties — if they are defined as “historic”.

“Sikes-Kline is a one-trick-pony,” one reader wrote in a comment e-mailed to Historic City News this week; expressing dissatisfaction with what they describe as a “myopic interest in preservation, with little concern for the basic health, safety and welfare obligations of municipal government.”

An obligation with “budget priorities” for her pet preservation agenda stands in stark contrast to her lack of concern for a yet-determined budget for the loosely defined four-year 450th Commemoration.

In proposed Resolution 2012-39, Sikes-Kline asks for “creation of a City revolving fund for assisting preservation and maintenance work” for historic properties located within the City but that are not owned or controlled by the City.

Add to that, of course, the Sikes-Kline resolution calls for increased support for the City’s archaeological program, and the creation and establishment of conservation and preservation “overlay criteria” and district zoning criteria for specific residential districts.

Specifically, the Sikes-Kline resolution asks that the City of St Augustine survey the preservation and maintenance needs of the historic properties owned and controlled by the City and develop an inventory and a schedule to set time and budget priorities for the necessary preservation and maintenance projects.

Sikes-Kline, who is halfway through her four-year term, wants the City Commission to resolve to endeavor to fund the needed work “through budgetary alternatives”; according to the draft resolution prepared by City Attorney Ronald W. Brown at her request.

Finally, Sikes-Kline, apparently unwilling to wait until after the new city commissioner is seated December 3, and too impatient for the already scheduled December 13 workshop on the use of planned unit developments to circumvent existing zoning, her November 14 resolution states, “In conjunction with the establishment of the districts, all existing policies, such as land use, zoning and height restrictions should be reviewed and reworked for application to the district.”

If you are planning to attend — the regular St Augustine City Commission meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday 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. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3) and is streamed over the Internet.

Reminder of upcoming Commission meetings:
1. Re-organizational Commission Meeting, December 3, 2012, 7:30p
2. Commission Workshop, December 10, 2012, 4:00 p.m. (Carpet Golf discussion)
3. Regularly Scheduled Commission Meeting of December 10, 2012, 5p
4. Commission Workshop, December 13, 2012, 9:00a – 12Noon. (P.U.D. discussion)
5. Regularly Scheduled Commission Meeting of January 14, 2012, 5p
6. Regularly Scheduled Commission Meeting of January 28, 2012, 5p

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