Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Beach Commission approves mayor's conditional-use permit

Commissioners essentially required every single one of the conditions that PZB members wanted to require. The Mayor did step down from the dais, at after all. He hired a lawyer and a court reporter, and his colleagues spent some two hours and 45 minutes scrutinizing the deal. A wonderful evening for democracy in action.

Beach Commission approves mayor's conditional-use permit (with video)
Posted: April 5, 2016 - 12:17am | Updated: April 5, 2016 - 5:10am


With Vice-Mayor Undine George presiding, the St. Augustine Beach City Commission voted Monday to approve a conditional-use permit to allow Mayor Rich O’Brien to build a pair of homes on two lots zoned for commercial use.

The decision went against a recommendation from the city’s Planning and Zoning Board — passed with a 4-2 vote on March 22 — to deny O’Brien’s request.

O’Brien, who had originally said he would remain at the dais during the discussion of his application, passed the gavel to George and stepped down after introducing the agenda item.

He remained seated in the audience while his attorney, C. William Curtis III, introduced his application and commissioners listened to more than two hours of public comment concerning the project.

O’Brien and his wife, Lauren Ringhaver, want to tear down an existing structure spanning two lots on the northeast corner of F Street and A1A Beach Boulevard. In its place, they want to build two homes.

The new structures, according to O’Brien, would both be three-bedroom, 3½-bathroom homes. One would be a little more than 2,500 square feet, and the other would be about 3,000 square feet, O’Brien told The Record last week.

Many of the property’s neighbors spoke at the meeting supporting O’Brien’s plans. Some residents voiced worries about the nature of the project and the trend toward larger homes cropping up on small residential lots. Others expressed concern that video of the March PZB meeting had never been posted to the city’s website and residents hadn’t had an opportunity to listen to what was discussed leading to the vote for denial.

City staff cited technical difficulties with the software used to stream and post meeting videos.

With O’Brien recusing himself from the vote, the Commission voted 3-1 to grant the permit with conditions.

According to the motion passed, the units will have to be single-family, residential structures. They will have to conform to the renderings and other plans submitted as part of the public record. The home on the lot abutting A1A Beach Boulevard will have to adhere to a 15-foot setback on the street side, and feature “lush landscaping” that is 4 feet high facing the highway.

Commissioners Margaret England, Gary Snodgrass and Andrea Samuels voted for the motion. George cast the lone dissenting vote.


sponger2 04/05/16 - 08:49 am 50What did I tell you?
Smart investing at it's finest, and nowhere to go but up! Did I mention it's raining Dollahs in his neighborhood? "I pity the fool" that bet against that going through.

ddarmstadter 04/05/16 - 10:01 am 40Why have a zoning board?
Why have a zoning board or a master plan if they are just going to be ignored on every occasion?

Firstcoaster 04/05/16 - 11:58 am 30With zoning
Everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

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