Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Just Say No to Dow Museum of Historic Homes Planned Unit Development" By Patricia Reilly (HCN)

Letter: Just say “no” to the Dow PUD

Letter: Just say “no” to the Dow PUD
Patricia Reilly
St Augustine, FL
Dear members of the St Augustine City Commission:
I have delayed writing about the proposed PUD for the Dow property, however, a recent article in the New York Times about tourism, and the approaches taken in different cities to avoid the negative impacts it can have, has prompted me to write now.
Change is inevitable. Individuals are barraged with change so why would cities be exempt?
As an individual, when faced with change and the decisions I must make, I rely on a set of personal values or my goals for myself in order to make those decisions and decide how to deal with that change so that my life stays on course and I continue to evolve into the person I want to be.
City leadership must do the same thing. The city might not have what we think of as “traditional values” but we do have goals, we do have rules; and, in the recent vision work, we outlined things that we are trying to preserve and balance in the city.
The city has a comprehensive plan. It has a city code which includes rules for zoning; and lastly, it does have that vision document.
If you look at all three of those; residential neighborhoods and the protection of those neighborhoods and “keeping the city livable” is a central theme.
Where does another hotel or tourist centric commercial venture fit when viewed against the potential for negatively impacting the lives of residents? Where does it fit with protecting the intent of residential zoning? 
The fact that you have to violate the intent of your own zoning rules to allow it should give you reason enough be concerned.
While a PUD does not, in itself, set a precedent, the basis upon which you make your decision could. If you say that revenue from a commercial venture is necessary for historic preservation, you potentially expose every historic residence to a commercial venture. 
Investing in the residential component of our historic city must work or our city goes down a path destined to change the very character we cherish. 
I have no doubt that Mr Corneal will do a fine job on this project and make it a profitable venture. I am suggesting that he needs to do that as a residential project, not a commercial one.
I am asking that you just say “no” to this PUD.

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