Friday, January 06, 2017
PUBLIC NUISANCE: WITHOUT UNDERGROUND PARKING, MILLIONAIRE KANTI PATEL'S SAN MARCO HOTEL PROJECT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT HISTORIC PRESERVATION DISTRICT HP-5
I testified against this monstrosity, pushed by a lawyer with a political law firm headed by the son of the former commanding general of the Florida National Guard.
Hotelier KANTI PATEL demands to delete underground parking. This is a major modification with no public benefit. It must be denied under our 2016 amendments to the Planned Unit Development ordinance.
Without underground parking, the project would inflict a substantial burden on local residents. How overbearing for yet another developer to try to pull a fast one, guided by JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE, former Assistant County Attorney, former Assistant City Attorney, whose unsworn undocumented assertions are nearly exceeded by the number of times he says "uhhhh" and disrespects Commissioners and Board members.
Neighbors are blessed that too-big projects in our too-small streets are being rejected. Finally.
During 2015-2016, lawyer JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE and ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP also tried to inflict a 7-Eleven at May and San Marco, at the same time they represented the City of St. Augustine Beach, they were pushing for a twelve gasoline pump gasoline station astride a barrier island evacuation route, a nuisance close to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. I shall never forget the neighbors' reactions when WHITEHOUSE falsely claimed there were no sidewalks at May & San Marco.
Note: JALARAM HOTELS has a materially false and misleading statements about this proposed hotel on its website, claiming it will open in Spring 2017:
The Renaissance Hotel
16 Castillo Drive St. Augustine, Florida
The 89 rooms of the San Marco Hotel reflect the classic styling and modern conveniences that visitors to the nation's oldest city have enjoyed for generations. The San Marco Hotel is slated to open in the near future with 2 stories of Southern charm and the warmest of appointments. Plans for this St. Augustine hotel also include an on-site restaurant and 2,500 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. The San Marco Hotel is scheduled to open in Spring of 2017.
FROM FACEBOOK -- ST. AUGUSTINE RESIDENTS COUNT
January 3 at 8:03pm
Tonight the PZB continued until Feb 7th the request to rezone parcels from current zoning designation of Historic Preservation-5 (HP-5) to Planned Unit Development (PUD), aka San Marco Hotel PUD, to amend the existing PUD to include additional land area (11 Grove Avenue, 14 West Castillo Drive, and 19 Grove Avenue, aka Barnacle Bills restaurant and parking), to eliminate underground parking, and to approve surface parking on the additional land area.
This is, so far, a good news story!
After hearing from a number of residents who expressed a strong concern for the impact of the valet traffic to and from the hotel on W. Castillo Dr., the PZB directed the applicant's attorney to produce a traffic study that would help them better understand the impact of moving the hotel's parking from underneath the hotel to down W. Castillo Dr.
Resident Nancy Noloboff succinctly made the point that what was originally an entirely "self-contained" hotel operation with internal underground valet parking had been changed into something that, if approved, would consume another six-tenths of an acre in the HP-5 district and clog W. Castillo with numerous valet round trips. She also reminded the PZB that this project was originally approved in 2006 and that St Augustine has changed much in ten years.
The residents' concerns seemed to resonate with PZB members. Sarah Shipp Ryan asked the applicant's attorney if the hotel could be redesigned to allow cars to go directly from the valet drop-off area to the parking lots (at Barnacle Bill's) without having to go out on W. Castillo. Board member Carl Blow reminded the applicant that he was on the PZB in 2006 and liked the project, but moving the parking out from underneath the hotel to surface lots was a "major change" to the PUD and it may not be the best thing for the city. Sue Agresta pointed out that HP-5 was a district that "is intended to provide a mix of residential and nonresidential uses compatible with the existing historic structures and the district's relationship with surrounding neighborhoods and traffic circulation." She wondered if rezoning such a large percentage of HP-5 to PUD for hotel parking was consistent with City Code. Mr. Blow also noted that the "engineering challenges" the applicant cited as the reason for not being able to build the approved underground garage were not out of the ordinary for this type of project.
At the end of the long meeting, the applicant's attorney agreed to provide a traffic study and come back on Feb 7th with answers to the PZB's many questions.
Well done to the PZB for asking tough questions and not accepting the all-too-typical hand waving from the applicant's attorney. A particular well done to Vice Chair Deltra Long who chaired the meeting in place of PZB Chair Matt Shaffer who was out ill today. Ms. Long took no "guff" and made it crystal clear that the PZB appreciated the presence of everyone who attended the meeting today even if the applicant's attorney did not. Of course, a hearty BRAVO to the residents who came out to the Fullerwood Training Center on a rainy day!