7-Eleven in St. Augustine closer to being built

Commission agrees to remove trees; residents worried about traffic

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Despite a formal appeal and public opposition, the plan to build a 7-Eleven on San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine is one step closer to reality.

Nelmar Terrace residents have been worried about increased traffic in their neighborhood, and they were hoping three protected trees would keep the store from being built.

The St. Augustine City Commission voted 3-1 Tuesday night in agreeing that the zoning board made the correct decision in allowing two trees to be removed and one to be relocated on the lot on San Marco Avenue across the street from Davenport Park, better known as carousel park, where 7-Eleven is wanting to build a store.

Some neighbors say the tree argument was to block the construction when their main issue is actually increased traffic.

Betty Anderson has lived in her home in Nelmar for 20 years. She said if traffic gets bad enough, she would consider moving.

"It's just going to be miserable if we have 2,000 cars coming through this little private street here, which has always been lovely, as you know," Anderson said. "Nelmar is always fighting to keep it perfect."

Some residents are indifferent about the idea of a convenience store, but say if it's there, they will use it.

"It would be a convenient location," resident Marciel Stilwell said. "I wouldn't like to see gas pumps there, you know. I think it should be a neighborhood store."

Attorney George McClure, who represents the developer working with 7-Eleven, said at the earliest, construction would begin next summer. But he thinks if neighbors continue to push back, it could be later than that.

"We understand their concerns, and consistent with my clients rights to use the cite, we are going to do everything we can to try and mitigate those concerns," McClure said.

The property 7-Eleven wants to build on has been empty for 37 years. Neighbors who signed the petition against the 7-Eleven don't know what's next, but they say they will explore other ways to keep the store from being built.

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