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St. Augustine neighborhood fights future 7-11 store

7:53 AM, Jul 3, 2012   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- On a summer evening in the Nelmar Terrace neighborhood in St. Augustine, you'll find people taking walks, doing yard work, and even washing the dog.

"I didn't want to be anywhere else," Matt Shaffer said. "I love it here."

He has owned a home in the neighborhood which is just off of May Street since 2005.

However, he and some of his neighbors are worried about the future of an empty lot on the corner of May Street and San Marco Avenue, just a block away.

7-11 wants to buy and build a convenience store and gas station on the lot across from the carousel on San Marco Avenue.

"We're concerned mostly about the traffic and how it will impact our neighborhood and an already busy intersection," Shaffer said.

A spokesperson for 7-11 says the company typically pulls its customers from existing traffic. In this case, that's traffic from San Marco Avenue and May Street which are fairly busy roads in St. Augustine.

But Shaffer is concerned some of that traffic will skirt into his neighborhood.

"It will be impossible for cars to turn in and out of that gas station, and they'll end up cutting through our neighborhood," he explained.  

It's a neighborhood full of children, students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and it's also full of historic homes.

"It's on the national historic register. We just achieved that recognition a year ago and we're proud of it," Shaffer noted.

The traffic from the 24 -7 operation isn't the only concern.  Shaffer said the lot sits along a key entryway into downtown St. Augustine.

Shaffer believes a busy 7-11 "won't make a good impression as you enter the historic city."

The lot is currently zoned for commercial uses.

Additionally, 7-11 has submitted renderings of a different looking convenience store in order to meet the City of St. Augustine's special entry corridor guidelines.

"For a 7-11, it'll look nice," Shaffer chuckled. Then he seriously added, "But that's not our only concern."

Shaffer and his neighbors want city commissioners to stop the sale, and they want to keep their historic family-oriented neighborhood the way it is... without a 7-11.

7-11 and its representatives are currently meeting with various city committees about the project.

Tuesday, the property is on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission.

A spokesperson for 7-11 said the company is also interested in putting another store at 1790 U.S. 1 in St. Augustine. 

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