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St. Augustine Alligator Farm plans to expand, but needs city's ok first

9:02 PM, Jan 28, 2013   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The St. Augustine Alligator Farm wants to expand the park and needs the city commission's approval to do so.

Reaction from neighbors is mixed.

Eddie Toy just moved onto Baru Road.

Troy Sendler's parents moved there in the '80s.

The two men both really like the hidden road that runs behind the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

"There are very few streets in St. Augustine where you only have streets on one side of the road. And that's definitely appealing to us," Toy said.

But they have disagreed about the Alligator Farm's plan to expand onto the wooded property across from their homes.

Sendler described the road as a place of "seclusion" and "peaceful."

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is popular and on busy days, it needs more parking

John Brueggen is the Director of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. He said the park visitors "have been parking in the neighborhood behind us, and that's bothering our neighbors. We want to be nothing but good neighbors."

So the Alligator Farm is asking for the city's permission to create more parking spaces on the wooded property which the Alligator Farm already owns. It sits between Anastasia Blvd and Baru Road.   It would also have a zip line for kids.

"In doing so we'd leave a 50-foot tree buffer, so neighbors who've always looked at trees will always continue to look at trees," Brueggen said.

The 50-foot tree buffer sounds great to some neighbors like Toy.

"It sounds like they have a pretty good development plan. They've to a plan to keep a green space here along Baru Road which is basically our front yard," Toy said.

However, the buffer is not enough for Sendler, whose parents are concerned about possible decreasing property value and about noise.

"Little kids generate a lot of noise when they're having fun," Sendler said.

St. Augustine City Commissioners have to give final approval to rezone part of the wooded land from residential to commercial.

"It seems weird to me to live in a world where somebody else gets to tell you what to do with your property," Brueggen said, "but we've been as polite as we can be. I've gone to each home on Baru to speak to the people who live on that street about the project."

However, the neighbors -- Toy and Sendler -- are still split about the woods across the street.

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