Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cabined Record Article on Final Vote on DOW PUD (Cordova Inn) Leaves Much to Be Desired: "More Chain Gang Journalism"

Cordova Inn project gets positive vote, but not in clear
Posted: August 26, 2015 - 12:07am
While the St. Augustine City Commission approved plans for developing an inn at the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses, the project is not in the clear yet.
The time frame for challenging the matter in court is about a month, and some residents might fight the commission’s decision.
“An appeal is fairly certain on behalf of the HP residents that have engaged in this process since the beginning of the year,” said Jane West, an attorney representing nine residents of the Historic Preservation District-One neighborhood, where the development is planned.
In a Monday meeting that didn’t end until Tuesday morning, St. Augustine commissioners voted 4-1 to adopt the ordinance to rezone the former Dow property at 143 Cordova St. from Historic Preservation District-One to Planned Unit Development, or PUD, to allow for an upscale inn with up to 30 nightly rentals.
Mayor Nancy Shaver voted against the ordinance, which was on second and final reading. The approval also came with several tweaks to the plan made just before the commissioners’ vote.
Those changes included a guarantee of 26 parking spots for guests at 100 Bridge St. and employee parking in the lot at 4 Dr. Martin Luther King Ave. and/or 116 La Quinta Place. The Cordova Inn tavern area is also limited to 90 occupants and 20 seats. The tavern will not be allowed a kitchen for cooking.
The PUD goes into effect in 31 days unless there is an appeal. If an appeal is filed, then the PUD would go into effect after any appeal has been resolved.
Dow property owner/developer David Corneal’s team and those in favor argued the plan allows for proper restoration and preservation of the property, which includes eight historic properties dating back centuries, because of the revenue that will be generated with an upscale inn. The other option Corneal planned, using the buildings as apartments, would not bring in enough revenue for the same quality of restoration and preservation, they said.
Opponents cited concerns over allowing commercial rezoning in the historic residential areas, among other things.
While it may not be the final step in the process, the commission’s decision was a victory and a major step in a long process for Corneal and his team. The application was filed in February for review by the Planning and Zoning Board.
Corneal said he was glad that he could now concentrate on getting the inn prepared for its opening, which is expected by the end of the year.
“It changes everything,” Corneal said of the favorable ruling. “It gives us an avenue through which we can preserve these buildings. “Now we’re going to go forward with this, and we will finish and get everything squared away. We will be able to sustain all of the buildings.”
While he understands that some people in the area don’t want him to make the historic property into a boutique hotel, Corneal said he expects most people to see the benefits in the long run.
“It’s going to be a knock-your-socks-off opportunity to visit and stay in this extremely historic area where you can walk to everything,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody.”
Opinions were still deeply divided on Monday night.
Commissioners heard several hours of testimony and public comment during the meeting and finished discussing and making changes to the PUD application at about 1 a.m.
Shaver voted against the ordinance because of concerns that needed more time to be worked out, she said. Those include lighting, signs, the tavern planned for the property and the proximity to a school.
“I don’t think we had anything in front of us at that point that was really quite frankly ... worthy of making a final decision on,” Shaver said. “This is zoning. This is something that lives forever.”
Shaver added that she hopes people are able to move on from the issue.
While Shaver advised caution at the meeting, other commissioners pushed forward and cited the preservation benefit, added revenue for preservation through the plan and reducing on-street parking, among other things.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Horvath, who has a background as an architect working in historic preservation, cited the cost of restoring historic structures and bringing the Dow buildings up to the standard outlined by the PUD.
“Therefore, there needs to be a method of return on investment in order to preserve these structures and keep them in this preserved state over time,” Horvath said. “The two options that have been discussed are either the inn or rental apartments. The inn will provide greater return on investment, which allows for a more accurate restoration of these properties.”

SkateG 08/26/15 - 09:40 pm 10Hard to Understand Morris1's Logic
I'm honestly trying, but can't understand it. Let see, rich guy sees great profit opportunity AND needs to buy a like property to avoid cap gains taxes on sale (3 days prior to buying the Dow) of Key West hotel for $8.3M. Rich guy wants hotel but needs zoning changed in city's strictest zone.

Most residents of the zoning district oppose the rezoning because it introduces a for-profit nightly rental business in a zone that doesn't allow it and locates a bar near an elementary school. Now, because the residents aren't rich enough to buy the property or haven't attempted to renovate the structures owned by a Daytona Museum, they have no right to object. Is that right?

How about this: people buy property and expect zoning to be enforced. How about this: The owner never explained why he couldn't comply with the requirements of the zone he bought in. Why not condos? Why not single family homes?

How about this: The owner bullied the city into giving him a property that will generate vastly more revenue than is needed to maintain the houses.

Nothing wrong with being a rich guy (some of my best friends are rich guys), but don't treat them like they have more rights than other folks. I just hope the Sisters of St David don't regret their trade of support for rehab money.

sponger2 08/27/15 - 03:55 am 21The logic is flawed, Skate
The function of zoning is to retain the character of an area based on population density, land use as set by the comprehensive land use map, and the existing and/or projected infrastructure needs, among other things. The almost constant variance to zoning regulations renders them essentially useless and the need for a planning and zoning department subsequently nonexistent.

To illustrate: If one buys 10 areas in Open rural of Silvicultural zoned land, the said land use is already established as to approved use, structures allowed, etc. One buys with the expectation that the "character of the area" will remain the same, which is why one bought there. If that buyer turns around a year after his investment in his own future (and having done his due diligence) to find the landowner of the 10 areas next door gets "a zoning variance" to put 50 homes on his property, that has defeated the whole object of the exercise of buying at that location. The increase in services required, the noise , traffic, and other associated changes to the area are simply not desirable. Additionally, one doesn't require a reason not to like it, approve of it, or endorse it. You bought there with reasonable and rightful expectation that the character of the area would remain as it was at the time of purchase. The same rational applies to the city of St. Augustine.

In summation, the city has no right; whether it be because of "the bleating of complainers who do not want change", or the money that can not be "invested by the neighbors to purchase the property to make improvements", or any other reason, to change the zoning at the expense of what the residents who bought there and live there. It is incumbent upon the buyer that if the property is to be purchased, the buyer should be aware at the outset that the criteria of the area calls for the restoration of the units without regard to maximizing profit goals at the expense of the residents by turning it into a tourist attraction/hotel, with thirty units that will obviously have a negative impact of the surrounding area, whether it be vehicle traffic,foot traffic and/or additional crowding. And again I emphasize, one doesn't have to have a reason not to like it, the zoning said it shouldn't be there. Anything else is simply a sellout.

Morris1 08/27/15 - 04:07 am 22LOL @ either of you citing "logic"
If we were to follow your "logic", zoning could never vary.
There is a damn good reason why it can.

Were either of you two blowhards offering to rehabilitate the buildings with your own money and effort?

sponger2 08/27/15 - 05:37 am 22Morris
I am not a blow hard nor am I required to put up money, rehabilitate the buildings or anything else. As I stated, one is only required to follow the rules. They are there for a reason, whether you like that or not. Exceptions are supposed just that, exceptions. Not the rule. And the logic (since you read my opinion) is irrefutable. The example is well laid out, easy to understand, and concise. The consequences are explained. Just because one can do a thing, doesn't always mean one should do a thing. These people's expectations are being dashed and the only blowhard is the guy who is pushing this down the throats of the residents, because the city government is either too corrupt, too cowardly, or too stupid to stand up to him.

You are entitled to your opinion, as I to mine. But make no mistake, the people are being wronged. And having an opinion that differs from yours is not being a blowhard, it is a view that is in conflict with yours, nothing more.

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