Friday, August 28, 2015

ROXANNE HORVATH, Vice Mayor, Defends Reading Prepared Script

At Close of DOW PUD Hearing -- Ex-Vision Chair, Architect, ROXANNE HORVATH Denied Due Process to HP-1 Neighborhood, Relies on Five UF Professors' Unscholarly, 
One-sided "Opinion Paper," Which Was Not In Evidence When She Wrote Script

St. Augustine City Commissioner ROXANNE HORVATH chaired the Vision Committee, spending $80,000, but claims inflicting a bar and 30 room hotel in Old City South HP-1 neighborhood will enhance livability -- she prejudged the DOW PUD, writing her speech in advance, and defended it in an email earlier today to City Attorney Isabelle Lopez.  

What do you reckon?

-----Original Message-----
From: Isabelle Lopez
To: easlavin
Sent: Fri, Aug 28, 2015 2:50 pm
Subject: FW: PUD-Cordova Inn
Mr. Slavin, 
In response to your public records request self-numbered 2015-305
regarding Commissioner and Mayor notes for the Cordova Inn PUD item, after
inquiry with the Commissioners and Mayor, the attached is the only document that
may be responsive to your request.  The document may be a precursor to the
actual final public record which would be the verbal statement made by
Vice-Mayor Horvath and is available via online video.

From: Roxanne Horvath 
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2015 2:09 PM
Isabelle Lopez
Subject: PUD-Cordova Inn

Hi Isabelle,
Attached are the notes
that I prepared the morning of the hearing.Knowing that it would be a long
night, I thought it made some sense to jot down the concerns I already had after
many e-mails, letters and direct conversations with both pro and con people.   I
listened to all of the people who spoke, with an open mind, and heard nothing
that changed the reasoning behind these notes. In fact the only two pieces of
information that were presented that were new, the distances to the parking lots
and the lease of 3 1/2 years, were responded to during discussion.  If I had
heard anything new, I would have included it during my discussion.  
Please let
me know if I can be of any further help on this issue. 

Attached document:

Comments on The Cordova Inn PUD
Thank you to our public for such strong Civic involvement.  I really believe that is what can make our community better. This is not an easy item to vote on knowing that we will be disappointing so many people no matter what outcome we arrive at tonight. 

I feel I have been well briefed from the people I have spoken to, on both sides of this issue. I have submitted my exparte communication to the City Clerk.   I believe we are all stewards of our Historic properties and I take this responsibility very seriously.

Coming to this issue with my background as an Architect with a large amount of my work in Historic Preservation, with many years on both HARB and Planning and Zoning and my most recent work on “Vision 2014 and Beyond”, I feel prepared to talk on this issue.  

I’m very aware of the high cost of Historic Preservation and adaptive re-use of many projects I have worked to restore.  These eight properties will be no different.  The cost will be high to bring them up to the Secretary of Interiors Standards.  

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.  

The two options (sic) 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 (sic) restoration (sic) of these properties.

Parking is also a concern and would be much less of an impact by the inn which will be providing off site valet parking. This valet parking at a satellite location is not a new idea, we have B & B’s and at least one hotel operating in this same manner, with similar distances.  

We know that off site parking, like the approach for the Inn would not work for the apartments, nor is it required under code.  Therefore a great amount of the open area of the site would have to be given over to on site parking or all of the needed parking would be on street, which will put a major pressure on our existing parking inventory. 

I’ve heard a lot about keeping our current Zoning instead of the PUD because  it will protect the neighborhood.  The current zoning in HP1 allows for 70% lot coverage. The current coverage is under 25%, that means that additional apartments could be designed and added to this property bringing the apartment count even higher with more parking needed either on site or on the adjacent streets.  Our codes also allow for 3 unrelated persons to reside in a living unit, which could add to the parking problem as well. 

There is an issue of the “Bar” and its proximity to a school. It is my understanding that it meets our code and is under100 feet.  There is a State law of 500’ if no local law exists. We have local law and this project complies. I would also like to talk about the concept of the word “bar”.  It is not a facility open to anyone not staying at the Inn.  The issue of Special Events has been prohibited in this application. So the “bar” which is actually a host pavilion is just like any other facility that provides wine to their hotel, or B& B guests.

It is very important, in my mind, to keep these properties together.  Very few properties of this size, of this historic value exist in our city.  This is an opportunity given to us by the property owner with no cost to our city.  We can talk about Historic Tax credits, which have not yet been applied for.  But if they are and are granted them,, it means that we will still get the current taxes but any taxes related to improvements made up to 10 years will have the taxes abated.  We would still, as I understand it, get bed taxes which would not be given if the project is apartments. 

I would like to touch on the issue of the Visioning that we have just completed for the City.  We talked a lot about “Balance” between citizens, business and institutions.  Over the years that I have lived in St. Augustine, there is always something that is coming up that gets everyone stirred up about.  The D & B school, the 7/11, commercial parking causing parking in neighborhoods.  We are working on our Zoning review of ordinances and we are working on our number one issue of traffic and parking.  Do I believe this project addresses the issue of liveability? Yes, it will have a manager and will be of such an investment that I believe it will have minimal impact on the adjacent residences in HP!. 

After reasoning through all of the issues I have arrived at the same conclusion as the University of Florida in their (sic) position letter.  Restoration of historic structures, sustainable preservation, economic impact, and potential educational impact, all direct me to support this project.

Whatever happens tonight, my hope is our community will come together and support both now and in the future this difficult decision we are about to make.

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