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St. Augustine buys back 7-Eleven land

Fight over allowing gas station at busy intersection ends with $1.4M purchase

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A years-long fight to keep a 12-pump 7-Eleven from being built at the intersection of San Marco Avenue and May Street ended Monday night when the St. Augustine Commission voted to purchase the land for $1.4 million.

A building permit was issued last year, then revoked by the commission after opponents of the gas station raised concerns about putting a high-traffic business across from Davenport Park, where children play. A zoning denial was appealed to a St. Johns County judge, who in March gave the city 45 days to decide on a revised plan to build the gas station.

Residents were relieved to hear the gas station fight was over.

"The traffic is terribly congested already," Judi Dunlap said. "It's terribly congested already. Sometimes it backed up clear across (U.S.) 1."

Others don't think buying the land is a good use of taxpayer money.

"It sounds silly, off the top of my head," said Steve Perry.

The mayor said the commission made the right move.

"We have a commission that has an accountant. It has me, with 30 years business experience. It has an attorney. It has an architect and a lang planner," Mayor Nancy Shaver said. "Whenever you make a decision like this, when you're spending taxpayer dollars, you do it very carefully."

James Whitehouse, the attorney representing 7-Eleven, said the company felt it would have prevailed, but was pleased with the resolution. 

"I think, in the end, all of the sides prevail," Whitehouse said.

The city did not speculate on the eventual use of the land.