Residents winning battle against 7-Eleven

St. Augustine planning director says proposed entrance must be wider

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The St. Augustine City Commission met Thursday afternoon to hear an appeal from 7-Eleven, which was turned down to build near a neighborhood because it didn't meet all the requirements by the city.

The battle has been going on for two years. Developers want to build a 7-Eleven on the empty lot on San Marco Avenue across the street from Davenport Park, better known as carousel park, but Nelmar Terrace residents are putting up a fight against it.

Residents deal with a lot of through traffic and fear a gas station would make matters worse.

"Going in, it's going to be even worse than it is now, and we are already having a lot of problems with street people breaking in our cars," resident Claudia Morris said. "My car's been robbed twice and my husband's several times."

Residents insist it's not just affecting their neighborhood, but also the people who commute to and from Vilano Beach, as well as the students and staff at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

"This is not just a Nelmar Terrace neighborhood issue, but we had over 700 signatures, people signed a petition to keep that an opposition to that gas station," said Matthew Shaffer, president of the Nelmar Terrace Association.

So far, residents have been successful.

The city's planning director recently rejected 7-Eleven's permit to build because of width of the store's proposed entrance and exit point onto San Marco Avenue.

The plan calls for that entrance and exit point to be 35 feet, significantly wider than the city's maximum requirement of 24 feet.

Attorney James Whitehouse represents the developer working with 7-Eleven. He said it could meet all the standards required by the city, but the state wants it to widen the driveway.

"I think that in the end, we met every one of them, we've compromised fully," Whitehouse said. "The only one we can't meet is this entryway width, and that's because the Florida Department of Transportation is telling us that it has to be wider for safety reasons."

The property 7-Eleven wants to build on has been empty for 37 years.

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