Admin error delays filing of appeal against The Roost

Admin error delays filing of appeal against The Roost
Cindy Corey hangs a poster at a block party June 12 on Osceola Street.

An administrative error effectively re-set the timeclock for the filing deadline of the appeal against an ordinance which would allow developers Ted Stein and J.C. Demetree to put a 150-seat restaurant into the former Deluxe Dry Cleaner and Launderette on Oak Street.

Riverside residents Nancy Murrey-Settle, Kevin Pettway, Fred Pope, Jennifer Wolfe, and Roxanne Henkle now have until July 19 to file their appeal with the 4th Judicial Circuit Court opposing the approval of Bill 2016-55 by Jacksonville City Council.

The error was a misunderstanding about the date of rendition – or execution – of an order to mail a certified notice to all residents within 350 feet of the site. The notices, which were to have been executed on May 24, did not get sent until June 20, thus re-setting the deadline to file.

In addition, the transcript of the 12-hour Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) Committee hearing has not yet been completed, which the
appellants desired to include with the filing.

“The final result was that we gained nearly a month of additional time to prepare, and will likely have all the time that we need to examine the written transcript of the LUZ meeting,” said Pettway, who lives across the street from the proposed restaurant site. “Everything we did was with building the record in mind. The whole point of the appeal to the process is to determine whether everything that went before was correct.”

A single judge will review the evidence submitted by both sides; no new evidence can be presented and the case could take up to 18 months before a verdict is rendered as to whether City Council’s decision was made properly.

“We feel we have a strong, solid case,” said Murrey-Settle, an Osceola Street homeowner. “It’s an interesting time for us, and for PROUD [Positive Riverside Optimized Urban Development], because it’s now out there. A lot of our work has been done in terms of getting our argument on record. Our focus now has to be on raising funds for the appeal.”

During a block party held June 12 to raise funds, several participants spoke up regarding the restaurant and the appeal.

“I had no idea there was a zoning change,” said Riverside resident Haley Haskins. “What’s the need for a bar between 5 Points and King Street? Because I’m a bicyclist and I try to avoid traffic and inebriated drivers, that makes one more street I have to check off of places I can’t ride my bike. I’m sure they can find another location that would do even better than this residential neighborhood. Go to a place that is already established.”

Haskins’ friend, Amber May, of Avondale, had a different take on the idea of putting a bar next to Snap Fitness, the other tenant in the building. “With a 24-hour gym next door, I don’t feel those businesses go hand-in-hand,” said May. “It would be much better to have something more focused on wellness than on intoxication.”

Ironically, Northeast Florida AHEC (Area Health Education Center) recently moved into new space across the street from the proposed development. The nonprofit focuses on health and wellness, offering programs in tobacco cessation, health and fitness for seniors, and corporate wellness.

It’s not just neighbors who live within shouting distance of the site who are concerned about what the Roost will bring to the neighborhood. Many participants at the various hearings and at the block party live further away in Riverside or Avondale.

“I’m from another community that was under threat from over-development in Atlantic Beach, and I was very involved with what was referred to as the ‘rear guard’ in protecting the community character there,” said Cindy Corey, who now lives in the St. Johns Quarter. “I feel strongly about protecting communities and residents who live there, so it was a natural thing that I spoke out and got involved.”

Riverside Avondale Preservation is not a party to the appeal, but will follow the case closely, according to Adrienne Burke, executive director. In a statement released by RAP, Burke said “commentary given at the Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) Committee hearing, and in the Planning Analysis used by PROUD, and authored by RAP volunteer Thad Crowe, provides a strong argument that intensity, scale and parking are among the zoning and land-use regulations that were incorrectly interpreted as part of the Roost proposal.”

“I kind of figured when all the signs went up for rezoning there must be something going on here, and the red flags rose,” said Callie Fletcher, a law student at Florida Coastal School of Law, who joined the block party. “It should not be that hard to appeal.”

Zoning laws under scrutiny

In an effort to prevent similar commercial incursions in neighborhoods classified as Residential Character Areas, District 14 Councilman Jim Love filed a bill, 2016-366, which would amend the Ordinance Code to prevent misinterpretation of the Riverside Avondale Overlay, to include additional language to address parking requirements within the Character Areas, and to specify the intent of Character Area designations.

Public hearings will be held by City Council on Tuesday, July 26 and Tuesday, August 9 at 5 p.m., and by Land Use and Zoning Committee on Tuesday, August 2, also at 5 p.m. in City Hall.

This bill would amend Chapter 656 (Zoning Code), Part 1 (General Provisions), Subpart C (Procedures for Rezoning and Amendments to the Zoning Code) and Part 3 (Schedule of District Regulations), Subpart O (Riverside/Avondale Zoning Overlay), of the Ordinance Code to:

  • specify applicability of the Riverside/Avondale Overlay to all Zoning Districts, including Planned Unit Development Districts (PUD),
  • specify types of negative effects to a character area when evaluating an application for rezoning,
  • identify additional intent and purpose of creating the overlay and defining the character areas,
  • provide parking requirements within the Historic Residential Character Areas and limitations on nonconforming site characteristics, and
  • require all rezonings to PUD to contain a  residential component and be situated upon at least two acres of contiguous land for all character areas.

RAP indicated it would take a proactive approach, working with Councilman Love on this legislation, to strengthen the Zoning Overlay requirements, especially with regard to the use of Planned Unit Developments (PUDs).

“We will focus our energy and resources on continuing to advocate for the vibrancy and livability of Riverside Avondale by working to make sure zoning laws make sense for our neighborhood,” noted Burke in a statement.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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