Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lighthouse Zoning Grab FOILED: Democracy In Action

Sweadner's Hairstreak Butterfly Is An Endangered Species Living on Lighthouse grounds


Neighbors united again defeated an ill-conceived zoning favor last night, this time for the St, Augustine Lighthouse.

First the Department of the Interior deeded the Lighthouse to St. Johns County, and the Junior Service League and later the Lighthouse foundation repaired the structure and made it something to be proud of -- the second most popular St. Augustine tourist stop.

Then St. Johns County Commissioners transferred title to the Lighthouse foundation, a $3 million/year foundation.

Then the Lighthouse asked to change its zoning category from government use (GU), as it's no longer owned by a government.

Not so fast.

The Lighthouse zoning proposal for a "Maritime Use District" in the midst of an historic, quaint, quiet residential neighborhood might have allowed a three story, 180,000 square foot maritime museum in a quiet, quaint, waterfront residential neighborhood, threatening the ancient dune, the endangered butterflies, and the quality of life.

Eighteen of us spoke against the proposal last night, and Mayor Nancy Shaver and Commissioners listened. We are proud of our City Commissioners, who once again listened to the people. Neighbors complained about the Lighthouse property no longer being open to neighbors as it once was, and to traffic confession and obnoxious behavior by delivery trucks (backing up the street with noisy backup alarms).

Dodgy non-lawyer MARK KNIGHT, fired former City Planning and Building Director, did the tedious fast-talking for the Lighthouse, with his putative boss, lawyer SUSAN S. BLOODWORTH, saying only a few words, and putative "pro bono" lawyer SIDNEY FRANKLYN ANSBACHER offering a few irrelevancies. (When FSDB was seeking eminent domain legislation, it hired dodgy developer mouthpiece ANSBACHER as an illegal lobbyist in violation of Florida law. BLOODWORTH is the only lawyer in McCLURE BLOODWORTH, founded by dodgy developer mouthpiece GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE, who died in 2013 after helping set up County Commission Chairman Tom Manuel up to take a bribe, in concert with Sheriff DAVID BERNARD SHOAR, f/k/a "HOAR. BLOODWORTH and McCLURE were booted out of the Rogers Towers corporate law firm over failure to share a fee with partners.)

Sweadner's Hairstreak Butterfly is an endangered species living on lighthouse grounds and as Edward Reuben Anderson pointed out, must be protected from Lighthouse building plans.

St. Augustine City Hall still has no staffer with the word "environmental" in their title and it shows: Birchim essentially let his boss of sixteen years, non-lawyer MARK KNIGHT take over at Planning and Zoning Board and Historic Architectural Review Board meetings, and did so last night.

Lighthouse managers, employees, volunteers and board members emitted mostly irrelevancies and platitudes, with the Lighthouse's plans for the property shrouded in secrecy, an enigma wrapped in a riddle. I told Commissioners that if the Lighthouse wants to build a maritime museum, it should look elsewhere and think big -- the long-flat Sebastian Inland Harbor site, with boat docks already built, would be a perfect fit, and the Maritime Museum could help anchor the long-delayed project.

KNIGHT did not help matters with his lack of responses to Commissioners' questions, his lack of a survey, his lack of a map showing where and what the Lighthouse might wish to build, and his snarky, smarmy smirky delivery, and his amending the proposal Friday afternoon by dropping it off at City Clerk ALLISON RATKOVIC's office, which in turn again dropped the ball by not sharing it with St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, Commissioners, Planning Director David Birchim or posting it on the City's website. How gauche and louche.

The issue is postponed until March 9, with KNIGHT saying "yeah, we'll give it one more shot" in hostile response to Mayor Shaver's question on rescheduling.

Three cheers for Mayor Nancy Shaver and Commissioners, for once again acting to protect our small town values. In the words of economist E.F. Schumacher, "Small is beautiful."

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