Saturday, August 22, 2015


(UPDATED) 1. On August 20, 2015, at 3:26 PM only four (4) days before the August 24, 2015 Second Reading vote of the St. Augustine City Commission on a proposed planned unit development, City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. distributed to City Commissioners an ex parte lobbying contact: a one-sided, unscholarly, undated. misleading and thinly researched "Opinion Paper" by five putative  "experts" at the University of Florida, unadorned by a single footnote.  (below)
2. REGAN's distribution of the  UF "Opinion Paper" by unqualified "experts" is an appearance of impropriety.  At the very least, City Attorney Isabelle Lopez has written, the communication was "ex parte" and "must be disclosed."  Ms. Lopez did not become aware REGAN's e-mail until after it was sent, when Mayor Shaver wrote her about it; the e-mail shows only that it was sent to the Commissioners.  Why was our City Attorney kept in the dark about REGAN's ex parte communication of a flawed study to our Commissioners?
3. REGAN is improperly attempting to influence Commissioners on behalf of the developer, outside of the quasi-judicial hearing required by Florida law.
4. The project in quo is the DOW Planned Unit Development (DOW PUD), a/k/a Cordova Inn, which would convert the State of Florida funded DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES -- in which $2.1 million was invested in  restoration -- into thirty (30) expensive nightly rentals.
5. The project in quo is some 134 feet from Cathedral Parish School, an elementary school, and would serve alcohol, in violation of F.S. 562.45(2)(a): "a location for on-premises
consumption of alcoholic beverages may not be located within 500 feet of the  real property that comprises a public or private elementary school, middle school, or secondary school unless the county or municipality approves the location as promoting the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community…." 
6. There appears to be NO such finding in either St. Augustine Ordinance 4-2 (purporting to allow sales within 100 feet), OR in the proposed PUD ordinance for the DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES. Hence, any DOW PUD allowing alcohol sales less than 164 feet from Cathedral Parish School may violate F.S. 562.45(2)(a). 
7. There is no discussion of the alcohol issue in the UF Opinion Paper.
8. Likewise, there is no discussion or fair-minded discussion of alternatives, such as the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. 
9. The project is in the City's most historic district, Old City South neighborhood, zoning district HP-1, where nightly rentals are forbidden by zoning law and the comprehensive plan.
10.  There were no interviews with neighbors and other residents opposed to the project, but false statements that the project "has high value for St. Augustine, St. Johns County, and the State of Florida and is strongly supported." 
11.  This attempted contamination of our CIty planning and zoning process by developers and the City Manager appears to violate state ethics laws.  Enough.

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