Proposed Vilano Beach hotel voted down unanimously

St. Jones County, Florida. The residents of Villano Beach won their battle against a proposed beach hotel. On Tuesday, the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on the hotel, 4-0.

The 194-room hotel was to be built near the A1A and Vilano Road, but residents turned out in droves to express their concerns about building the largest hotel in the area.

Multiple concerns were raised including that the planned space was incorrect and the county made errors in the submission process.

Concerns have also been raised about traffic in the area.

“To get to Vilano, there is a two-lane bridge to get there. My concern is not to live too far from the area, because you know, floods, natural disasters, hurricanes, it would be a mess to have so many hotel rooms as these extra rooms,” he said. Resident John Belkey.

Commissioner Henry Dean was the first commissioner to express doubts about the size of the hotel and suggested that the hotel be allowed if the number of rooms was only 120, which corresponds to the largest hotel already on the beach. But the developer’s attorney and architect, Key International, said that wouldn’t work with their plans.

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They said they would only be willing to drop the room total in proposing a downsizing from 194 rooms to 174 rooms. But the commissioners didn’t seem to think that was enough and just before the vote the developer made a final bid for the 150-room hotel, but the commissioners still voted against the proposal.

The process, however, will likely never end.

After the vote, the developer expressed a desire to either re-apply for a building permit or to appeal the commission’s decision. The county is also considering whether to waive the usual one-year requirement before reapplying.

But for now, residents feel a victory.

“Well, I’m not against development, I think the specific area they’re looking at, something could be done there. Just the scale and scale of what they’re trying to do is just too big for Vilano,” said Gela Bothris, who resides in the area.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All Rights Reserved.

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