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GR8FL
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This reply has been accepted as the best answer.

I reached out to SiteGround.

This development site was created recently and by default there are two plugins automatically installed. One is their caching one (SG Optimizer) and the other is security (SiteGround Security) which I deactivated since I’ve been using WordFence. Well apparently the security plugin creates another .htaccess file inside the wp-content folder which among other things creates this sort of error.

# SGS Directory Hardening
<FilesMatch "\.(?i:php)$">
  <IfModule !mod_authz_core.c>
    Order allow,deny
    Deny from all
  </IfModule>
  <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
    Require all denied
  </IfModule>
</FilesMatch>

# SGS Directory Hardening END

All I had to do was delete it and made sure to keep the regular .htaccess file in the public_html folder.