Tonight’s Main Event at City Hall

Historic City News will find several items of interest on tonight’s agenda when the City of St Augustine Commission convenes but the “Main Event” may be the second reading, public hearing, and final action on how the city will define and allow operation of a “Special Event Venue“.

The controversial business model has been in the spotlight since a new property owner on Anastasia Island in the North Davis Shores neighborhood attempted to convert an eclectic residence on Flagler Avenue into a place to hold weddings, anniversary celebrations, receptions, luncheons and dinners and similar events

As is common, there was very little discussion on first reading of the proposed new ordinance.  However, tonight’s hearing can result in a vote that could change this proposal into law, within the city limits; and, it is not likely to move ahead without a few impassioned pleas.


Special event venue is a business where the primary use is to host events such as weddings, wedding receptions, bridal receptions, rehearsal luncheons and dinners, anniversary celebrations, galas, birthday parties, family reunions, ordinations, funeral receptions, fundraisers, retirement parties, corporate meetings, conferences, trade shows, speaker luncheon series, auctions, museum exhibits and similar events. A special event venue may be indoors or outdoors and must comply with all applicable local codes including, but not limited to, life safety codes, building codes, zoning codes, alcoholic beverage codes, public works department, police department and fire department requirements. Occupancy and occupancy limitations for special event venues must comply with all applicable public safety codes and requirements. Government and military services and events are not special event venues. Special event venues may also be accessory or ancillary uses to other uses, such as, hotels or motels, bed and breakfasts or restaurants, for example.


Sec. 28-163. Residential, general-one: RG-1
Sec. 28-164. Residential, general-two: RG-2
Sec. 28-165. Residential and general office: RGO
Sec. 28-167. Residential and general office-A: RGO-A
Sec. 28-184. Historic preservation district: HP-2
Sec. 28-185. Historic preservation district: HP-3
Sec. 28-186. Historic preservation district: HP-4
Sec. 28-207. Commercial low-two: CL-2
Sec. 28-208. Commercial medium-one: CM-1
Sec. 28-209. Commercial medium-two: CM-2
Sec. 28-347. Supplementary regulations for certain uses


All special event venues whether permitted, permitted as a use by exception or as an accessory or ancillary use to other permitted uses maybe subject to conditions reasonably related to minimize negative impacts and achieve compatibility with the neighborhood and protect historic resources. A special event venue shall be subject to the following conditions:

  1. As a use the venue shall be in scale with the surrounding area as determined by code requirements, such as, parking outlined in applicable local codes. If the special event venue is in addition to a primary or principal use as an accessory or ancillary use the use of the premises for a special event venue shall be clearly incidental and subordinate to the primary or principal use, such as, the use of the premises as a hotel or motel or bed and breakfast, restaurant or convention facility and shall under no circumstances change the character of the primary or principal use.
  2. If the special event venue is an accessory or ancillary use there shall be no change in the outside appearance of the building or premises, or other visible evidence of the conduct of the venue, except during the actual event. For any special event venues temporary tents, fencing, seating, catering arrangements or other requirements depending on the nature of the venue may be used during the event only and must be disassembled within forty-eight (48) hours after the event concludes, and the building or premises must be returned to its normal condition. Some events may require certain screening or buffering during the event.
  3. No traffic shall be generated by the special event venue which obstructs the public right-of-way and any need for parking generated by the conduct of such special event venue shall meet the off-street parking requirements of this Code in other than the required front yard.
  4. No equipment or process shall be used in such special event venue, which creates noise, vibration, glare, fumes, odors or electrical interference detectable to the normal senses off the lot. In the case of electrical interference, no equipment or process shall be used which creates visual or audible interference in any radio or television receivers off the premises, or causes fluctuations in line voltage off the premises. Any potential noise generators proposed by the venue shall comply with the requirements of the City of St. Augustine noise ordinance.
  5. Occupancy limitations for indoor and outdoor areas, restroom facility and handicap accessibility requirements may be established by the local official having jurisdiction whether that is the building official and/or the fire marshal.
  6. If a special event venue includes the use of a boat or other nonpermanent or mobile type facility required provision of all applicable local codes, such as, but not limited to parking and restroom facilities shall be provided at the point of gathering or loading of patrons for the event.
  7. If an historic site is used for a special event venue the event cannot negatively impact historic or cultural resources on the site and if the historic site is a public site the event venue cannot impede the ability of others to experience the area or site, such that the special event venue shall be in a defined area indicated by an obvious barrier to maintain separation between it and the historic public area.
  8. In residentially zoned areas, or historic preservation districts special event venues shall operate within normal business hours except until 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday and recognized holidays.
  9. Pyrotechnics, including fireworks, sparklers and similar devices shall not be permitted as part of a special event venue.

If you are planning to attend or speak during the “public comments”, the meeting will be held in the Alcazar Room of St Augustine City Hall, located at 75 King Street at 5:00 p.m.  Live broadcast and rebroadcasts of City Commission meetings and rebroadcasts of meetings of the Planning and Zoning Board and the Historic Architectural Review Board are available on Comcast channel 3 and AT&T U-verse channel 99.  Live and on-demand viewing of meetings of any of the three commissions is available on

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