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Old St. Augustine Dairy Queen could become new hotel

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Dairy Queen in St. Augustine could be turning into a hotel.

Residents who live near the old restaurant on San Marco Avenue received a notice from the city about the owner of the building's proposal to build a hotel that would consist of more than 50 units.

Since June, the Dairy Queen has had signs on its doors indicating it's temporarily closed. The reasoning: a lack of dependable employees, according to one of the signs.

RELATED: Lack of employees freezes St. Augustine Dairy Queen

But there's now a new sign on the property. It's a notice from the city regarding the proposal to turn the Dairy Queen property into a hotel.

Stephen Hutson, who lives nearby, and other neighbors don't believe the hotel is needed. 

"I wouldn’t be able to see the sunrise anymore," Hutson told News4Jax on Wednesday, "I’d be dwarfed by whatever they put there."

According to city officials, Shri Hari Landing Incorporated, based in Texas, owns the property. 

Currently, hotels along San Marco Avenue are only allowed 50 units, according to the city.

If the proposal is approved, the property would be rezoned so the city could allow a hotel with more than 50 units. 

Some neighbors feel a hotel with that many units would create traffic problems. 

“The fact that they want to do something larger or increase the traffic and, possibly, the noise for the area, the surrounding residents, is concerning," resident Terrye Hensley said. 

Hutson agrees. 

“I have an 11-month-old. He’s going to be walking soon and there’s already enough traffic here that we’re concerned," he said. "If that’s added to it, it's even more.”

City leaders said the St. Johns Law Group will be speaking on behalf of Shri Hari Landing at a public hearing Tuesday.

Hutson said he will be attending.

“I would like to see them hear what I have to say and what our neighbors have to say," he said. "Hopefully, that sways them in the favor of what needs to happen here.”

Neighbors are hoping more people will show up to the public hearing and voice their concerns. 

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