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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 2, 202005:10 AM EST

Park Place at San Marco opponents ask for review of judge’s recommendation

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Developers say groundbreaking for apartments still is planned for 2020.

By Mike Mendenhall & Max Marbut

Opponents of the planned Park Place at San Marco apartment community filed two exceptions Aug. 25 to a Florida administrative law judge’s recommendation that the project be allowed to proceed.

San Marco residents Jonathan Livingston and Lakshmi Gopal and the nonprofit Right Size San Marco met a 15-day deadline to challenge state Administrative Law Judge Francine Ffolkes’s recommendation to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Park Place development team member and Corner Lot Development Group CEO Andy Allen said Aug. 31 groundbreaking still is planned by year-end. Corner Lot and Birmingham, Alabama-based Harbert Realty are developing the property.

The proposed development is a four-story, 133-unit apartment building and a two-story, three-level parking garage on 2.09 acres at 2137 Hendricks Ave.

The property, owned by South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church,  is bounded by Hendricks and Mitchell avenues and Alford and Mango places. The church’s sanctuary building would remain after the development.

After City Council on Feb. 25 enacted the ordinance to rezone the 2.87-acre parcel to allow for the development of Park Place at San Marco, Gopal, Livingston and Right Size San Marco challenged the decision in court.

They filed a motion March 26 seeking a review of the Council’s action by the state Department of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee and another motion to appeal the decision in the 4th Circuit Court in Jacksonville.

That motion included a writ of certiorari challenging the city’s rezoning of the property to a planned unit development. A writ of certiorari orders a lower court to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court may review it, according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

The property, owned by South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church,  is bounded by Hendricks and Mitchell avenues and Alford and Mango places. (Google)

Ffolkes, the state hearing officer, rejected the challenge Aug. 10 on grounds that the petitioners did not present evidence to overturn Council’s action.

On Aug. 25, the petitioners filed the exception to the court’s ruling. They ask that Ffolkes’s ruling be further reviewed, according to the docket and documents posted on the Department of Administrative Hearings website.

The Circuit Court on April 20 granted the petitioner’s motion to stay the proceedings – put the case on hold – pending the outcome of the state hearing.

That was the last document filed in that case as of Aug. 30, according to the Duval County Clerk of Courts.

Livingston said in an Aug. 31 email that he expects it could be a month before a final order is issued. 

It’s unclear if the plaintiffs intend to move forward with the appeal in the 4th Circuit. 

“At this time, while we are awaiting the final order for the first appeal (with the state), we have no comment,” Livingston said.

Allen said he expects the project opponents to move forward with the 4th Circuit case. He said the legal challenges have not slowed interest from nearby San Marco Square businesses that want higher residential density to drive more foot traffic.

“We’re still getting numerous retailers, small businesses and restaurants calling,” Allen said.

 

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