Tuesday, July 28, 2015


St. Augustine City Commission votes 3-2 to advance Cordova Inn PUD to second reading
Posted: July 27, 2015 - 11:09pm
The Cordova Inn project is on the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses of St. Augustine property on Cordova Street.

St. Augustine commissioners voted 3-2 to advance a PUD for the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses on Cordova Street after close to an hour of presentations and questions that went late into Monday night.

Commissioners voiced concern about changes in the PUD as well as what they saw a loose ends in the application, especially with parking requirements and a request to keep uses in existing zoning.

“I want it more buttoned-up,” said Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, who voted against moving the PUD forward.

Mayor Nancy Shaver also voted against it. Commissioners Todd Neville and Leanna Freeman and Vice-Mayor Roxanne Horvath voted in favor.

Officials said more details can be worked out at second reading. The focus of first reading was making sure the application is sufficiently complete.

Major concerns centered around additions made to the application, such as keeping existing uses in the property’s historic preservation zoning district, which commissioners questioned.

David Corneal, who purchased the property, has already started renovating two buildings for use as an apartment, though he plans to use the property as an inn, said Ellen Avery-Smith, an attorney for the applicant.

He has done that to bring in revenue as he awaits a final decision on the PUD and in case it does not pass, she said.

However, if the PUD was approved the apartments would be converted back to use for the inn.

That change was made in July.

Corneal, who is also renovating property on Bridge Street, plans to build an inn at the property, but some neighbors have been opposed. Resistance to the plan includes zoning protection concerns, while others have voiced support for the plans.

The item was on first reading on Monday so a public hearing was not required. Still, more than 20 people spoke during general public comment at Monday’s meeting, even though their comments technically cannot be considered by commissioners in their decision-making.

The comments were split about evenly between those in support of the of the development and those who spoke against the development or spoke in general against the idea of commercial growth and rezoning in historic residential areas.

“Save our heritage ... and what remains of residential St. Augustine,” said Lee Geanuleas, of St. Augustine.

He said his comments were directed at protecting zoning in general, though he is against what has become known as the Dow PUD.

Frank DuPont, of St. Augustine, said he has lived in the city for more than 70 years. He was in support of the PUD.

“This will be part of the charm,” he said of the development.

Nancy Noloboff, encouraged commissioners to protect livability.

“I’m against changing the zoning,” Noloboff said during a break in the meeting. “We have zoning in place. We need to follow it.”

The PUD is expected to come back for second reading in August.

In May, the Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of the PUD with exceptions that included limiting special events at the property and requiring the property to be open on a weekly basis for public tours.

The Museum of Arts & Sciences of Daytona Beach owned the property for many years, which is a collection of historic houses that date back to the 1700s.

In 2013, the Children’s Museum of St. Johns backed out of plans to buy the property.

In other business

■ Commissioners passed an ordinance on first reading on Monday night that would require an order to approve a certificate of demolition to become effective 31 days after the order is issued. The ordinance also allows the city manager and the City Commission to waive the waiting period process under certain conditions

■ Commissioners delayed an ordinance regulating special events venues, saying they wanted defined requirements for grandfathering in existing businesses.

Commissioners said they wanted more items wrapped up.

Commissioner Leanna Freeman, who said she would not vote for the ordinance without having more information.

The ordinance creates a definition for special events venue and regulates what categories the venues can be located.

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sponger2 07/28/15 - 04:55 am 81Are they written on toilet paper?
Why have zoning laws in the first place if they can be arbitrarily discarded? They are there for a reason. If I bought in the historic district, I would expect (and this is part of what I paid for) the character, density, parking, and turnover to remain the same. If they are to go ahead with this, the neighbors should be property tax exempt for life, and the life of their descendants, if they choose to live on the property. I can guarantee you this, money is changing hands somewhere regarding this BS.

SkateG 07/28/15 - 09:12 am 30Pulling the Rug Out
Not to be overlooked, Corneal really pulled the rug out from under his few supporters. This from the article: "David Corneal, who purchased the property, has already started renovating two buildings for use as an apartment, though he plans to use the property as an inn, said Ellen Avery-Smith, an attorney for the applicant. He has done that to bring in revenue as he awaits a final decision on the PUD and in case it does not pass, she said."

What?!! He's creating apartments at the Dow when all along his side has decried making apartments there and harped on the evil of renters?!! "Run! Hide the chickens and the kids, evil renters are coming to downtown St Augustine!" Talk about a slap in the face. If I stood up and said it can't be apartments because of some (mostly inane) reason and then had my Dear Leader's minions announce that they're making nine apartments, I'd feel gut-punched. Guess renters aren't so evil when they pay the bills. Ouch!

Also it would appear the owner is under-capitalized if he's so desperate for cash so soon in the application process that he has to take steps that completely undermine his argument for the PUD. Remember, he twice asked for delays in his application being heard by various boards. Applying in April and having a final decision in August is not at all unusual.

Dark days in PUD Land.

1 comment:

Clara Waldhari said...

Here's another way to look at David Corneal's antics:

He isn't the least under-capitalized. He is doing EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTS, WHEN HE WANTS TO DO IT, HOW HE WANTS, and WITHOUT OVERSIGHT!

Wake up! LOOK at this latest ploy in the "lugubrious goober's" tactics to ruin a residential neighborhood, and ruining Lincolnville, to boot. Poor mouth. Is his wife divorcing him? Find out.

Yes, he's a busy little squirrel.

As long as Corneal, Don Crichow, and Mark Knight DO NOT SUBMIT COMPLETE BUILDING PLANS TO THE CoSA DEPT. OF PLANNING & BUILDING, there will be no commitment AT ALL made by Corneal to our codes. Without the PLANS, HE CAN DO AS HE WISHES! No reviews, no evaluations.

CITY COMMISSION, please prod Todd Neville awake, and TELL THE CORNEAL TEAM WE ALL WANT THOSE PLANS! STAT! NOW! No more screwing around with the system, no more bullying, thuggery, or sleaze like selling barrels of manure to the Minorcans. Why not call it the CANOVA INN instead if David Corneal is so dedicated to the Minorcans?

People, there is a sucker born every second in St. Augustine. And Corneal gotcha!

The longer NO ONE AT ALL calls David Corneal and team on the carpet and demands plans, the farther this will go until -- VOILA! -- the project is completed and YOU are all still sitting on your hands.

ACT. For the love of this city.