Letter: Dow-Corneal PUD would restrict lot coverage


Letter: Dow-Corneal PUD would restrict lot coverage

Jon Benoit
BEHST Builders, Inc.
St Augustine

Dear Editor:

I have followed with great interest the debate over the Cordova Inn PUD. I worked on the buildings for several months, so I know the buildings, the site, and the issues very well.

I think the discussion and debate over the pros and cons of the PUD have missed one critical topic: lot coverage.

The trend with most development right now is to take the construction and reconstruction of properties throughout town right to the maximum lot coverage. The buildings that collectively make up the proposed Cordova Inn property currently only occupy 20% of the lot area.

Section 28-188 of our City Land Use Code states that properties in HP-1 enjoy a lot coverage of up to 70%. The PUD, as designed, will lock in the lot coverage at close to 20%.  Simply put, this means that the Cordova Inn is leaving on the table an awful lot of square footage that could, by right, be developed.

Herein lies the critical win/win that is supposed to define a PUD:

The ownership wins by being allowed short term rentals — the community wins by limiting the lot coverage to whatever is proposed in the PUD Master Site Plan.

If the property is developed as any residential use, the square footage of the buildings on the property could be doubled, or even tripled from what is there now and still be within the developer’s rights granted by the land use code.

HARB can review a proposed development for architectural consistency, but it can limit neither the scale nor lot coverage established by land use code. Lot coverage is a planning and zoning issue, not an architectural review board issue.

I have a Master of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning with a focus on neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation. I believe it’s significant that the Cordova Inn PUD retains the character and the scale of the existing buildings while providing an appropriate adaptive reuse for the buildings and property. I also happen to have worked for the owner for over five years, so I have confidence the finished product will be beautiful.

Clearly there are many issues being debated, but retaining the existing lot coverage is the biggest win/win in this PUD and for that reason alone, I fully support it.

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