Citizen wants Planning Director and City Attorney fired

400-KNIGHT-BROWNThe very last item on the agenda of Monday night’s city commission meeting will no doubt test the patience, and endurance, of St Augustine commissioners, residents, and non-residents who have taken adverse positions with the issuance of a permit to Dolphin Cove Inn, Inc., to build a wooden fence along their north property line on the east side of the Bridge of Lions.

Item 14-B, unless modified by the commission Monday night, will be a presentation made by City Manager John Regan of material in support of Application 2012-1099 and the findings of Deputy Director David Birchim; submitted to and approved by Director of Planning and Building, Mark Knight.

Three residents, Ray Dominey, Deane Newsome and Penny Chamberlain, have led a campaign to make the property owner remove the fence. They have received media attention for their cause, but, the property owner holds what they say is a legally obtained permit to construct the fence.

City building officials agree and have provided the City Manager with documents that contain citations from past commission meetings, aerial maps and a survey that was approved as part of the hotel’s application package.

Dominey, Newsome and Chamberlain don’t agree or accept the findings of the city planning and building officials. On at least three facebook pages created by Newsome, they have goaded some others to make emotional, hostile remarks towards the officials, property owner, and other businesses in the community, including this publication and its editor; after we made our own investigation of the situation and our findings did not dovetail with their agenda.

On the evening of May 22, Chamberlain wrote comments on one Internet page, “We call on the Mayor and City Commissioners to fire Mark Knight, City Planner and Ron Brown, City Attorney.”

In our coverage of the brouhaha so far, a number of Historic City News readers have supported the property owner’s right to protect her property line with a fence while some have not. Unfortunately, those leading the dissent are behaving so extremely, some of their argument is being lost in the hush tones of the majority of people who, even if they agree with them, do not appear to be equally incensed.

Chamberlain went on to write, “They made a mistake, did not do their job and are now trying to cover their asses at our expense.” Although the City Manager reached out to the property owner last week, asking if there could be any compromise in view of the complaint, his civil tone stands in stark contrast to Chamberlain and some others who have engaged her on facebook.

“There will never be one reason good enough for us,” Chamberlain wrote, presumably for the three. Not sounding as if she was interested in any compromise like what was sought by the City Manager in his communication with the owner, Chamberlain went on to say, “We will continue to fight and hope you all stay with us until the 2 fences come down.”

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