Variance for convenience store denied


400-AUDIENCE-PZBWhen the St Augustine Planning and Zoning Board met this afternoon, Frank Green, one of the owners of Four G Partners property at 111 King Street, spoke in support of his potential tenant, Kenny’s Market Place — but no one else in the room did.

Green, who lives in Silver Springs, Florida, has been looking for someone to fill the vacancy left by Hamblen Hardware Store for over a year; but, a soft economy and abundance of available commercial property has hindered Four G Partners efforts.

The Patel’s, who would operate the convenience store, had a representative to make their case before the seven-member Planning and Zoning Board in hopes of receiving an exception to sell alcoholic beverages (up to 14% alcohol) and a zoning variance that would relieve them the obligation to provide off-street parking.

They got neither.

Chairman James Patrick McCune entered five e-mail letters from neighbors into the record; one in support of the application, four against. Building Department staff had objections to the application, as well.

After hearing from the applicant and property owner, McCune opened the floor to public comments from the 25 members of the public who were in attendance.

Jackie Hird, who lives behind the property, Mr and Mrs Bruce Merwyn, and Corrine White all spoke against the application. Jennifer Ellis, who owns the toy store adjacent to the former hardware store and also rents from the Greens, said she was concerned about the availability of parking; saying she already has a problem keeping two spaces open for her own customers.

The Board decided to hear the one application as two separate requests.

After some discussion on details, it was unanimously decided to enter a final decision to deny the parking variance; finding that the requirement was not an undue hardship. Even with a credit for six spaces from the previous use, Patel or Green would still have to find off-site parking for customers within in close proximity.

Janet Ponton Lewis asked Assistant City Attorney Isabelle Lopez for clarification; it was determined that if there were another request for a retail store, which was the former use, instead of a convenience store, which the City recognizes is a more intense use, the existing parking would not be an issue.

Gerald Dixon asked for denial of the exception for the sale of alcohol at the location, as well — he said the exception appears moot with the variance denied. The remainder of the Board, including Vice Chair David Toner, Sue Ellen Agresta, Grant Misterly, and Matthew Shaffer, unanimously voted to denial the exception, without prejudice — in the event the applicant is able to correct the parking issue and wants to reapply.

The applicant has thirty-days to appeal the final decision on the denial of the parking variance.


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