December 11 2019
Sustainable Goals speakers Dec. 12 Nancy and David O’Byrne, delegates to the recent UN conference on Sustainable Goals, will be Human Rights Week speakers at a Candlelight Community Reading Thursday, December 12 at 7 pm at the United Church UCC-DOC, 5880 US 1 South. They’ll present how human rights are essential to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The Community Candlelight Reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is sponsored by The United Church UCC-DOC, Compassionate St. Augustine and Indivisible St. Johns.
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History’s Highlight December 28 1835 The holidays were not a happy time for Florida settlers in 1835, in the midst of rising tension with the Seminole tribe seeking to stay in its lands as assured by treaty while pressure mounted to move them to western reservations. Uneasy peace was broken December 28, 1835 as Osceola’s ambush of the Indian Agent Wiley Thompson at Fort King in Ocala and Micanopy’s ambush of a relief column making its way to Fort King ignited the Second Seminole War. It would be the longest and costliest Indian war in US history. Army Major Francis L. Dade was a last-minute replacement for another who was to lead reinforcements from Fort Brooke, near Tampa, to Fort King at Ocala 100 miles distant. It was December 28, 1835.    Major Dade's column had been making its way north from Fort Brooke along the slit of a trail in the dense wilderness. There were several opportunities for the Indians to ambush the troops, but they continued stalking. The trail broke into a clearing near an area called Wahoo Swamp. The Indians, a force of 180 in command of Micanopy, planned their attack as they had at several earlier points: They would position themselves to retreat into the swamp if necessary. Lined along the west edge of the trail, hidden in heavy foliage, they readied their weapons, mostly Spanish rifles gained from trading with Cuban merchant ships. The Army column was made up of "redlegged" infantrymen, artillery regulars also trained to fight as infantry. With them they hauled a six-pounder cannon as they moved into the clearing. It was a chilly day, and the column had their heavy coats over their ammunition kits. Half the column was dropped with the first deadly spray of shot, with them Major Dade. The remainder, their sky blue uniforms making easy targets, dove for the cover of trees. The six-pounder was quickly readied, and its roar so shocked the Indians that they retreated for the better part of an hour. In this time, the surviving troops hurriedly put together a triangular defense work of logs. The Indians soon reorganized and continued the attack, shredding men and logs in deadly gunfire. Three survived Dade's Massacre. Ransome Clarke, left for dead in the heap of carnage, managed to crawl and stagger to Fort Brooke, where he gave his account of the incident. Two others dragged themselves from the scene, one to be caught and killed by Indians, the other to reach the fort but die shortly after of his wounds. The remains of those who fell were buried at the fatal site; in 1842, when that area was considered safe, the remains were moved to their final rest at St. Augustine’s National Cemetery, beneath the three pyramids, among 1,468 brothers-at-arms who fell in the Seminole War.  Excerpt from The Dade Massacre in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories. For holiday gift-giving, Click for further information on this fascinating historic series.
921 housing units in US 1 north future Only misunderstanding of the city code prevented a developer from requesting a tripling of housing units off US 1 north - until the January 7 meeting of the city Planning and Zoning Board. The developer of 134 acres near the State Road 16 bridge seeks rezoning from a previously approved 107-unit planned unit development to allow 336 multi-family units. The site is adjacent to a 585-unit approved development. He got a continuance to the board’s January 7 meeting to change the request from Residential General zoning to Residential Low-One zoning, which would be consistent with the site’s land use, according to city staff. The property is across the railroad tracks from The Landing Apartments off US 1 north. It has 585 permitted units, 273 units currently built and a second phase under construction now for 312 units. Both properties were originally Florida East Coast Railway holdings transferred by governments in the earliest days of rail development to encourage rail service. The City Commission a decade ago granted development zoning in exchange for removal of billboards on railroad land along US 1 and SR 16.
Short-term rental rules go to public hearings at January 13 session City commissioners Monday passed to second reading and public hearings at their January 13 2020 meeting three ordinances regulating short-term rentals. The advancement followed an hourlong public comment period dominated by speakers concerned primarily with a seven-day minimum requirement in RS-1 and RS-2 residential zoned districts. Resident Michael Gallagher of 63 Carrera Street summed up much of the sentiment: “Twenty-five years ago my homestead exemption was about 40 percent of the value of my home. Now it’s somewhere around 11 percent. “To live in my own home and pay the insurance and the taxes cost me about $800 a month on the house that I own. I don’t know if somebody lived just on social security how they could afford to stay here in town. “I think the 7-day minimum stay will close down most of those Airbnbs which will put a glut of real estate on the market which will affect the value of every house.” The ordinances were developed on recommendations by a citizen committee. The main ordinance provides for registration, annual inspection, intensity of use, ancillary use, life‐safety, parking, and solid waste. The other two ordinances confirm established regulations for seven-day minimums for short‐term rentals in RS‐1 and RS‐2 residential categories and confirm regulations requiring monthly rentals for Historic Preservation District One south of the Plaza de las Constitución.
Names in the News Melissa Wissel, previously Public Information Coordinator, has been named to succeed former Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson, and carries to the office a new title: Manager of the Communication Division. Wissel started with the city in 2014 as a part-time St. Augustine Municipal Marina Attendant and transferred to the Public Affairs Department in 2015. “Wissel has been an essential part in the launch of two websites in four years, establishing a presence on social media, overall improving public outreach and expanding the use of video messages for increased public engagement,” City Manager John Regan says.  Albert Syeles, president and driving force behind the development of the Romanza alliance of arts in St. Augustine, has been named president of The St. Augustine EpiCentre Alliance, a coalition of performing arts groups working to “promote, build, and sustain a visual and performing arts center in the St. Augustine area.” Derek May, former publisher of the St. Augustine Record and Chief Operating Officer at Morris Communications before it’s sale to Gatehouse Publications, is now President at Azalea Investments, LLC in Augusta GA. “I miss the newspaper industry, but unfortunately, print is a tough business these days,” says Derek. “I am hopeful that local journalism will survive in a different model. I also miss so many great friends like you in St Augustine. … I feel very fortunate to have landed in a new career path. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m having a blast.
Committee will study slab construction perils Right now I’m seeing building after building being constructed doing what we don’t need. Commissioner John Valdes, a contractor, won City Commission approval Monday for formation of a committee  “of people who are in the business - architects, builders, Realtors, to look at how we might want to modify our building code and our zoning code to address, basically, flooding, handling water that has no place to go because we’ve paved over paradise.” Valdes told fellow commissioners he’s seeing every day, “Infill construction on slab, removing the ability to absorb water.” He has in the past suggested crawl space construction, building on piers or foundations that allow water to percolate into the soil under buildings. The city will advertise for committee volunteers. As to the makeup of that committee, Valdes said, “Let’s see who we have (applying).”