Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zoning Board Offers Changes to Parking Ban

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zoning Board Offers Changes to Parking Ban

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Abel

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- The Ponte Vedra Zoning and Adjustment Board voted unanimously Monday to recommend letting the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office decide who can get social occasion parking permits for Ponte Vedra Boulevard.

Even though people won't have to pay for permits, they'll be required to pay for police supervision of the parking.

With parking generally banned along the oceanfront road's right of way, the board also voted to grant exceptions for emergency, law enforcement and service vehicles, buses and trailers.

The zoning board finalized its recommended changes to the boulevard parking ban and will now pass its recommendations along to the St. Johns County commissioners.

Parking along the oceanfront road was the subject of a court case in which the First Coast chapter of the Surfrider Foundation sued the county, saying its policies were impeding the public's beach access.

The social occasion parking exception has been the most controversial because it was part of Surfrider's lawsuit over beach access and parking. During the November trial, former Surfrider Chairman Scott Shine said he had been denied an exception to the ban to park for a social event along the boulevard while two others were granted exceptions. Surfrider Attorney Deborah Andrews argued during the trial that County Administrator Ben Adams was granting and denying exceptions without any objective standards.

For the past four months, the Zoning and Adjustment Board has been working with county staff to retool the parking ban.

At the first board meeting in January, Assistant County Attorney Laura Barrows said of the ban, "The way it is worded now is not accepted, legally. . . . Criteria really need to be written into the ordinance, and it needs to be objective. …

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