San Marco neighbors fight business park proposal next to historic landmark

San Marco neighbors fear a proposed development wouldn’t just bring a commercial business too close to residential homes, but also a historical landmark.

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The proposal would put office and storage space along St. Augustine Road next to Phillips Craig Swamp Cemetery, which has gravesites dating back to the 1860′s.

“For us, it’s not only the visual aesthetic, but it’s more noise in the neighborhood, it’s more traffic,” Jeremiah Bowser, a neighbor, said. “The [gravesites] are more than one hundred years old and something worth paying attention to. I know the people related to the ones buried here would probably protest this if they were around.”

The city’s Planning Department did pay attention to some of the concerns after it originally denied the recommendation. Members said it was inconsistent with the comprehensive plan and intruded on a residential neighborhood.

Planning Commission however voted to approve the recommendation. Members said all the commercial activity would be indoors with no impact to the residential neighborhood.

“There are probably so many other properties already zoned for something like that — all up and down St. Augustine Road that aren’t right next to residents,” Bowser said.

A representative for the developer said it’s a single-story building and they are mindful of the nearby neighborhood and said the cemetery will act as a natural buffer for other homes along St. Augustine Road.

Others mentioned drainage concerns with Craig Creek right there. The developer said all of that would be vetted during the permitting process.

The Land Use & Zoning committee would have to approve re-zoning from low-density residential to business parks. Council members voted to defer Tuesday night. Another date has not yet been set.

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