The developer's demands to create traffic tie-ups in our Nation's Oldest City require criminal, civil and administrative investigations of the developer, hotel chain, and City staff, seemingly working in cahoots. Reckon the FBI Corruption Task Force and U.S. Attorney will investigate?
From: Ed Slavin
Subject: Third Notice of Filing -- SAN MARCO HOTEL PUD, CoSA PZB Case No. 2016-0160: Please Improve Process for 3/7 Hearing and Deny Modification
Dear St. Augustine PZB Chairman Shaffer, Vice Chair Long and Board members Agresta, Blow, Brown, Misterly and Ryan:
Please vote at your 2 PM meeting on March 7, 2017 at City Hall to recommend that St. Augustine City Commission affirm without modification its support of the San Marco Hotel PUD Ordinance, City of St. Augustine Ordinance 2006-16, rejecting the applicant's demand to delete underground parking requirements that have been the law for this property since 2006, by agreement of the applicant, who swore last year that there were no soil or topographic limitations on the PUD plan.
Concerning the February 7, 2017 PZB hearing, please note the following about the attempts to sandbag, mislead, gull and euchre the government of our City of St. Augustine, which requires investigation by federal and state law enforcement.
1. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE, applicant KANTI PATEL's lawyer, promised to exclude the public from both the bar and restaurant. This violates both Marriott rules and federal civil rights laws. It is unAmerican and unseemly. What Marriott Renaissance manager would check restaurant patron's IDs or demand to see their hotel keys or registration? These are public accommodations. Civil rights laws govern; travel and tourism affect interstate commerce. Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964). Marriott's corporate compliance and ethics policies would not support a PUD that would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which President Johnson was able to enact after breaking the Senate filibuster as a result of the courage of people right here in St. Augustine, a cause well known to the applicant, a longtime resident and supporter of civil rights). It appears that the applicant's louche counsel was "just whistlin' Dixie" in response to parking questions.
2. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE's bizarre statements about now planning on moving garbage and deliveries through hotel corridors violates Marriott requirements. Those statements are not worthy of belief. The approved 2006 design for the underground garage solves the problem that the amendment would create, ex nihilo, hesto presto, at the whim of iron of WHITEHOUSE and the applicant. St. Augustine Ordinance 2006-16 must not her changed.
3. Some of WHITEHOUSE's disorganized, staccato, rat-a-tat misstatements of "fact" were unsworn by any actual factual or expert witness testimony, including understating by 50% the size of the ballroom.
4. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE's false claim that lay witness James Patrick Wilson is an "expert" on archaeology is not worthy of belief. Mr. Wilson is our former City Attorney; he, I and others laughed at the applicant lawyer's calling him an "expert." WHITENOUSE wasn't laughing, but he was grasping at straws. ("Any port in a storm," as sailors say, Mr. WHITEHOUSE?)
5. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE's last-minute filings, not shared with the public, made this process a charade. Why no copies of documents?
6. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE, belated after 5 PM mention of an unshared diagram for a tunnel was not worthy of belief. Putting a tunnel under a pool?
7. The applicant is free to build the promised hotel with underground parking. He should do so.
8. "Testa-liar" engineering testimony does not rebut the feasibility of underground parking, as showing by the applicant's Bayfront Hilton, whose underground garage survived Hurricane Matthew -- the driest place in St. Augustine after the storm.
9. Neither hotels nor parking lots are permitted uses in HP-5. The developer can build his approved hotel, but eviscerating HP-5 is illegal.
10. No copies of the Marriott franchise agreement or standards were provided. Wonder why? You are being kept in the dark, deliberately.
11. No disclosure of investors or beneficial ownership was provided for the franchisee. This is unacceptable.
12. St. Augustine City Attorney ISABELLE LOPEZ, contributed nothing to the 3.5 hour hearing, sitting like a bump on a log. Why?
13. Both St. Augustine Assistant City Manager TIMOTHY BURCHFIELD and General Services Director JAMES PIGGOTT attended. Was this official business or personal support for the applicant.
14. There was false, defamatory and untrue testimony that local restauranteur, Christopher Way, longtime owner of Barnacle Bill's Restaurant, demolished and destroyed a Victorian home. In fact, Mr. Way donated the home, which was moved to its current location, and became the Chamber of Commerce Building, now owned by the applicant. The applicant did not correct this defamatory falsehood. This and other developer witness testimony should be scrutinized, along with conflicts of interest, by the FBI Corruption Task Force in Daytona Beach and the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department.
15. There was an unadorned assertion by City Planning and Building Director DAVID BIRCHIM that "furniture" in MARRIOTT RENAISSANCE ST. AUGUSTINE function rooms would somehow reduce already too-permissive parking requirements for City zoning. BIRCHIM's bald assertion was apparently unchallenged. Please ask for citation documentation and discussion, not on-the-fly ukases by the 20-year veteran of doing things the "good-ole-boy" way here in St. Augustine.
16. Your patience is admirable, but key points got lost.
17. Emotional or illegal arguments went unchallenged.
18. The City Attorney was almost AWOL. Some volunteer Board members at times appeared distracted, fatigued, intimidated, overwhelmed nervous, or may have allowed the applicant's fast-talking, loquacious local lawyer to mislead them. Enough.
19. This case is simple: there is no competent or substantial evidence that disputed the applicant's undisputed sworn 2016 statements that there were no soil or topographical difficulties. There is no principled reason to amend a ten-year old PUD by deleting underground parking based on pretexts, merely to save money for a multinational corporation or its local "partner," as MARRIOTT's Senior Design Director has referred to KANT PATEL.
20. Please make detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to the new PUD ordinance, 28-289, finding:
(1) Adverse effect. The proposed PUD amendment would adversely affect 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.
21. Please vote to recommend that the City of St. Augustine affirm its support of the San Marco Hotel PUD Ordinance, City of St. Augustine Ordinance 2006-16, without deleting underground parking requirements. This will preserve HP-5, which would no longer be preserved but urbanized, illegally, mutatis mutandis, at the behest of selfish developer KANTI PATEL, a MARRIOTT franchisee who has kept MARRIOTT in the dark.
At the March 7, 2017 hearing:
1. invite the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) and MARRIOTT to send a representative.
2. ask the City archaeologist, City historic preservation planner and preservation planning consultant to speak.
3. invoke the uncalled witness presumption due to failure to call the applicant's architect, Jerry Dixon, at two (2) public hearings.
B. Please direct the applicant to respond to public questions and document requests.
C. Please do not permit the applicant to engage in any further flummery, fraud or filibustering, unsworn lawyer testimony, mischaracterization of evidence, etc.
D. Please give informed residents more than three minutes within which to rebut the developer attorney's hours and hours of flatulence, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery, and to ask questions of "experts."
E. Please ask Assistant City Attorney Denise May to attend.
F. Please direct City staff to place all documents on the City's website.
G. Please provide for surrebuttal after the applicant's rebuttal, to allow all facts to be disclosed.
H. Please provide for public cross-examination of putative "experts," for whom no "expert" evidentiary foundation was ever laid.
I. Please disclose all agreements, understandings or relationships between St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board members, their families, and the applicant's and counsel's businesses.
I. Please ask our City Attorney to explain HP-5 and the legal requirements for expert testimony under Daubert or Frye.
J. Please do not show any further favoritism, e.g., making gushy remarks praising the applicant, whose counsel perpetrated the 7-Elevan debacle and lied to City boards (no sidewalk on San Marco at May Street?). Please do not allow a politically-connected developer and his law firm to boss you around. JAMES GEORGE WHITEHOUSE is a former Assistant City Attorney, who feels compelled to remind everyone always and everywhere of that fact in every City hearing where he ever speaks. WHITEHOUSE works for ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP, the law firm of DOUGLAS NELSON BURNETT, dodgy former City of St. Augustine Beach City Attorney who advertised his law firm on that city's website, scion of the former Florida National Guard General, Here's a photo of the City Manager, ex-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES, Jr., et al. cooking a "charity" dinner for ST. JOHNS LAW GROUP from an exclusive aerie atop the Lightner Museum and City Hall -- placed on the law firm's website to brag on its government influence -- is this a case of res ipsa loquitor?
L. Please do not allow the politically-connected, patronizing and presumptuous applicant counsel's errors and factual misrepresentations to go uncorrected again.
M. No more "home cooking," please. Enough destruction of St. Augustine's charm for secretive speculator-developers' profits.
N. Please provide an outline of specific topics for discussion, with public comment on each one.
O. Please do not enforce unfair time limits that discriminate against residents and favor developers. Please require the applicant to provide electronic transcripts for the City's website seven days before the next hearing commences.
P. Please DO take more frequent recesses -- there was no recess for some 3.5 hours of interminably whiny arguments, while a dozen other applicants waiting to be heard. We are people. We are not dromedaries. ADA is applicable. Denial of bathroom breaks is indefensible: this is not Guantanamo. And in the ungrammatical words of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, "this is something up with which we should not have to put."
Q. Please do your jobs, without fear or favor. The residents of Our Nation's Oldest City are counting on all of y'all.