Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Hats off to Community for Opposing Developers' Demand for 19 Florida Avenue proposed tree-killing and bulkhead!

Our late former Mayor George Gardner's vision of the role of the Neighborhood Council in preserving and protecting our nature, history and precious cultural heritage lives on.  

From St. Augustine Residents Count's Facebook page, with hats off and gratitude to the 30 people who spoke out in support of Ravenswood neighbors and our Neighborhood Council. Reprinted and by permission of the incomparable Capt. Lee Geanuleas, U.S. Navy (Ret.):

Lee Geanuleas, Admin.

Yesterday (4 April), the PZB voted 5-0 to continue until 5 July 2023 an application to build a 112-foot bulkhead at** 19 Florida Ave,** including a 1,529-square-foot dock and the removal of the majority of the tree canopy on the site, which includes significant trees in Conservation Overlay Zones 1, 2, and 3.
The biggest sticking point for the PZB was the applicant's desire for the bulkhead and over 42,000 cubic feet of fill on 0.14 acres of jurisdictional wetlands. In response, the applicant expressed willingness to redesign the project to minimize wetland impacts. We should expect a redesigned multi-family residential project with access off Julia ST at the 5 Jul hearing. I'd be shocked if wetland fill and a bulkhead were part of the next design.
One resident presented a detailed study of the tree canopy on the property and offered recommendations to save more trees than currently planned. One board member told the applicant to read the report and consider her recommendations.
One thing to keep in mind: the PZB, and particularly Chairman Mike Davis, made clear that given the property's RG-2 zoning, *something *will be built there. He recommended the developer meet with the neighborhood to better understand their concerns.
An incredible thirty residents spoke on the record against the applicant's plan! You have to go back to the Dow PUD fight in 2015 to see numbers like that. My hats off to the Ravenswood Neighborhood Association for such impressive organizing. It's heartening to see residents so effectively engage in defense of their neighborhood! Well done!
While this looks like a "win" for protecting the wetlands, it probably won't satisfy Ravenswood's concerns about flooding, traffic, pedestrian safety, and tree preservation. But, because of the neighborhood's diligence and unity, hopefully, the applicant will produce a less intense and intrusive development plan. Sometimes, half the enchilada is better than nothing.

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