Why the Planning & Zoning Board (PZB) should not rezone the Barnacle Bill’s restaurant property from Historic Preservation District 5 (HP-5) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) for San Marco Hotel parking.
Reason #3: The proposed rezoning violates our City Code
This may come as a shock to some, but we actually have a fairly well-written City Code. With last year’s updating of the ordinances dealing with Planned Unit Developments, zoning law in St Augustine is reasonably logical and fairly straight forward.
In the case of the San Marco Hotel Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the corner of W. Castillo Dr. and San Marco Ave and the developer’s request to rezone property currently zoned HP-5 to a PUD for parking on what is now the Barnacle Bill’s lot, it is clear that such a rezoning is contrary to City Code.
Section 28-288 of the City Code specifies that, “Uses allowed in a PUD must be compatible with the property's identified Comprehensive Plan future land use designation.” As we established last night in Reason #2, the parking PUD is not compatible with HP land use. So, this one is a “no brainer.”
Section 28-289 paragraph (a) (4).b.2 states, ”For properties currently in the HP-1, HP-2, HP-3, HP-4 and HP-5 districts requesting rezoning to PUD, identification of the specific proposed benefits or enhancements to the property that promote the goals of these historic districts.”
So, a PUD in HP-5 must support the goals of the district. Well, what are these goals you may ask?
There are seven general HP goals (applicable to all five HP districts) and then HP-5 has a specific intent defined separately. First the general goals.
Division 3, Section 28-181 establishes seven general goals for the city’s HP districts. These are (with my view of whether the proposed parking PUD meets the goal in parentheses):a) To safeguard the heritage of the city by preserving the district(s) which reflect noteworthy elements of the cultural, educational, social, economic, political and/or architectural history. (NO)b) To educate the citizen to realize, understand, and appreciate the city's rich heritage. (NO)c) To stimulate a greater awareness and sense of pride in the founding of the city and the contributions it has made to the state and nation. (NO)d) To develop an atmosphere and feeling of old, historic St. Augustine by encouraging the preservation and restoration of historic structures within the districts. (NO)e) To improve the environmental quality and overall livability of the historic section of St. Augustine. (NO)f) To stabilize and improve property values in the district and to allow uses that encourage the restoration and conservation of historic sites and structures.(NO)g) To promote the use and preservation of the district for the education, welfare and pleasure of residents of St. Augustine and St. Johns County, and of the state and nation as well.(NO)
Clearly, rezoning HP-5 parcels to PUD for a parking lot does not promote any of the above goals. Not shocking when you think about it.
Now, I realize that more than a few people would consider finding a parking spot in downtown St Augustine a historic event and worthy of safeguarding, but I don’t think that’s what the Code is talking about.
As for the specific intent of the HP-5 District itself, Section 28-187 describes it as “…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.”
Since HP-5 does not allow parking lots, a parking lot cannot be considered “compatible” with anything in the district and certainly not the surrounding neighborhood. Rezoning HP-5 parcels to PUD for a use not currently allowed in that district and not in support of any general HP district goal unquestionably does not promote the goal of the HP-5 district. Another “no-brainer,” right?
It is important to note that if the developer’s rezoning request was for a parcel in a non-HP district, Section 28-289 would not apply and, all things being equal, it might legitimately be approved. But, since it does involve an HP district and intends to establish a land use not compatible with that specific HP district or the underlying historic preservation land use specified in the Comprehensive Plan, it cannot be approved.
Now, as to the PUD itself, Section Section 28-288 (c).4 of the Code lays out very clear criteria that the PZB and City Commission must establish as “findings” in order to approve a PUD. These are (with my view of whether the proposed parking PUD meets the goal in parentheses):a) Permit a creative approach to the development of land; (NO)b) Accomplish a more desirable environment than would be possible through the strict application of the existing zoning district requirements; and (NO)c) Provide for an efficient use of land; and (Possibly)d) Improves the appearance of the area through the preservation and enhancement of historic and natural features, recreation areas and open space, and effectively transition from existing development patterns to the PUD;(NO)e) Provide an environment of consistent character compatible with surrounding areas; (NO)f) Retain property values over the years. (YES)
Even giving the developer the max benefit of the doubt, he only bats two-for-six on these. Don’t think that will get his PUD into the Hall of Fame.
For any PUD or rezoning application Sec. 28-289 (c) defines the actions required of the PZB and the City Commission. Following public hearings PZB may recommend and the City Commission may enact an ordinance establishing a PUD, including any special conditions related thereto, based upon findings that (my comments in parentheses):a) No adverse effect finding. The proposed PUD does not adversely affect the orderly development of the city (by contributing to the undermining of the HP-5 district, it adversely affects the orderly development of the city), the health and safety of residents in the area, the natural environment, the use and development of adjacent properties or the general neighborhood (The proposed PUD clearly adversely affects the adjacent properties and general neighborhood).b) Consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and PUD regulations finding. The proposed PUD is consistent with the comprehensive plan (As discussed in Reason #2, it is not)
As laid out above, you can see our City Code does not allow creating a PUD in an HP district with a use that does not support the goals of the HP district. Simply stated, the city cannot legally rezone HP-5 parcels to PUD for parking lots.
Now, after reading all this stuff you might conclude that denial of the rezoning from HP-5 to PUD for parking is a “slam dunk.”
Well, technically you would be correct. But, as we’ve seen way too often sometimes irrelevant considerations such as: “It’s going to be so pretty,” or “She's/he’s a nice gal/guy,” get thrown out to distract the PZB or Commission from adjudicating the request based on the Comp Plan and the City Code. So, don’t think it’s as cut and dry as it looks to be on paper. After all, it’s only the City Code; we don’t really have to follow it if it’s not convenient.
Congratulations! You’ve now completed the short-course on why the PZB should not rezone the Barnacle Bill’s restaurant property from Historic Preservation District 5 (HP-5) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) for San Marco Hotel parking. And we even learned a little bit about the Holy Roman Empire along the way; how good is that?!
On behalf of St Augustine Residents Count,
Great presentation overall. Thanks for it!
It is a wonderful example of how the 'rule of law' SHOULD work.
It is also a wonderful example of how the 'rule of law' gets debased and is selectively enforced to favor the wealthy. A wonderful example of why people's respect for the 'rule of law' and law enforcement are currently swirling down the toilet of 'Scamerican' corruption. A wonderful example of why we now have a narcissistic, orange haired 'grab em by the pussy', 'punch them in the face', racist, fascist loser in the WHITE house.
You acknowledge that selective enforcement and corruption in law here when you say this;
"Now, after reading all this stuff you might conclude that denial of the rezoning from HP-5 to PUD for parking is a “slam dunk.”
Well, technically you would be correct. But, as we’ve seen way too often sometimes irrelevant considerations such as: “It’s going to be so pretty,” or “She's/he’s a nice gal/guy,” get thrown out to distract the PZB or Commission from adjudicating the request based on the Comp Plan and the City Code. So, don’t think it’s as cut and dry as it looks to be on paper. After all, it’s only the City Code; we don’t really have to follow it if it’s not convenient."
It is that prior past selective misapplication of law that renders it null and void and gives the applicant a leg to stand on for litigating any negative decision and thereby making it a simple might makes right money fight where the deep pockets most always prevail.
A bedrock principle of law is that all who come under its jurisdiction must be treated equally. The applicant here, if his pockets were deep enough and he so desired, could sing that unequal treatment song in our corrupt courts for many years into the future to the detriment of the city. This is similar in many ways to a cop who is discovered planting evidence. The case gets thrown out and all of his prior convictions become subject to review.
Charlemagne turned to cutting off the hands of those who debased the money supply by putting less silver in the coins. And that worked to re instill confidence for a short while but it did not solve the problem of the debased coins that were in circulation and that contributed to the collapse of his realm. The debased law, a reflection of past corruption, is now one of our paramount problems.
The take away here for me Lee, is that the system in its entirety is nearing corruption collapse. It is time to sound General Quarters — all hands to battle stations as quickly as possible.
Thanks for sharing your keen perceptive abilities and excellent communications skills for the benefit of the community.
On behalf of Intentionally Made Homeless and Oppressed Residents Everywhere Count.
cc Ed Slavin