City approves Flagler College plans for badly needed academic building

St. Augustine city commissioners voted 3-2 early Tuesday to allow Flagler College to build a new classroom building along Cordova Street.
Discussion over the building began about 5:30 p.m. Monday and continued for much of the night. Commissioners finally voted at around 12:30 a.m.p.m., the St. Augustine Record reported.
Flagler College President William T. Abare Jr. told commissioners that the college has far less space for classrooms than other institutions of its size. He said:

Great institutions need superior facilities. Great institutions need more than two buildings for classrooms.

Dozens of residents attended the meeting, filling Alcazar Room at St. Augustine City Hall. The spillover crowd sat on chairs in a hallway and watched the debate on television.

Residents opposed to the building said they worry it will bring in additional noise and traffic, and hurt the character of the city’s historic district. The Record quoted resident Leonard Pellicer as saying:

I understand Flagler’s need for more classroom space. It’s in the wrong place. It is not in keeping with the surrounding neighborhood.

Mayor Joe Boles, along with commissioners Bill Leary and Errol Jones, voted in favor of Flagler’s proposal. Commissioners Nancy Sikes-Kline and Leanna Freeman were opposed.
The city’s Historic Architectural Review Board approved the project in two separate votes last year. The Planning and Zoning Board also approved it, only to reverse its decision after seeing residents’ opposition to the project. Abare told the Record the reversal surprised him. He said:

I was stunned. I was astonished. That was arbitrary and capricious. It was hard for me to understand what went wrong in the process.

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