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Booze, Brawls and Boondoggle…..& Conflicts of Interest


November 11, 2014


Boca Watch update: Boca’s City Council decided at its November 10 meeting to stick to a 2AM limit for alcohol sales. Boca Watch’s research showing a spike in police incidents in West Boca’s Blue Martini (see orginal article below) after 2AM was presented at the Council meeting and helped to swing the decision toward keeping Boca policies aligned with those of other Palm Beach cities. Let’s hear it for a 2AM bar closing and our City Council!

November 4, 2014

In the last few weeks, we have begun to hear rambling from the Community Redevelopment Agency members, especially, CRA Member Constance Scott, about extending the drinking for bar establishments in the downtown from 2:00 A.M. to 4:00 A.M. 

To date there has been no public hearings on this subject and it seems to be on some sort of fast track leading one to wonder…….

What is actually going on and why….

To begin, there are at least three obvious reasons to argue against such a move…..

1)    Nothing good goes on with more drinking into the wee hours of the morning;

2)    The increased costs to the taxpayer for additional first responder services are not presented nor understood;

3)    The ordinance as written is covertly for the benefit of only one downtown establishment to the exclusion and detriment of other similarly situated locations.

Police records for Blue Martini in West Boca indicate that extended hours, like those proposed in the ordinance, lead to increased police calls for violent incidents, alcohol & drug related offenses, and theft.  The graph below based on police incident reports for the period  1/4/2012 to 1/4/2014 at Blue Martini show police incident spiking between 2AM and 5AM (Blue Martini’s extended hours). 

Police Incidents by Hour at Boca’s Blue Martini

1/4/2012 to 1/4/2014


Published newspaper reports where comments from law enforcement about the incident history for other establishments in the western section of Boca Raton with post 2:00 A.M. alcoholic beverage sales provide further support for extended hours being associated with increased police incidents. 

Based on the above evidence, one can expect that added first responder calls for both police and fire services will increase….not to mention the added risk to the public from those impaired drivers and violent incidents in these early morning hours. 

Finally, the ordinance as written arguably allows only one establishment, Jazziz, in Mizner Park to fall within its criteria….

As currently anticipated, no downtown establishment within 150 feet of a residence qualifies.  When the ordinance was originally conceived, Jazziz was specifically mentioned but legal sufficiency considerations suggested that writing an ordinance for one establishment would raise legal objection.  So, back to the drawing board, the ordinance was modified to add the 150 foot language….

In the latest Sun-Sentinel article, Jazziz’ management are specifically quoted to argue that the change is necessary to raise their revenues from robust alcoholic sales as an offset to the costs of bringing in big named entertainment.  A secondary reason is that Jazziz caters to a very late night clientele.  They argue that these are the patrons who support an entertainment complex of this sort…..

These arguments are speculative and argumentative at best….

Jazziz came to their location with full knowledge of the hours of operation and the restrictions in Boca Raton’s downtown.  Citizens should not and will not be held responsible for the business decision, a risk factor, which these sophisticated business people took when cutting the cozy deal they have at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.

Suggesting that alcohol sales is a needed lifeline for success is truly concerning and does not support the family friendly atmosphere that Boca Raton is known for.  Alcohol establishments in cities like Delray Beach and West Palm Beach seem to do just fine operating within the confines of those cities parameters.  Jazziz should be no different.  Even more important, locations such as the Dubliner and the Funky Bisquet should not be made to operate at a competitive disadvantage that this ordinance would provide. 

Thumbs up should be given to the other CRA members….

Members Singer and Weinroth have appropriately voiced concern for the speed of this process and the legitimacy of the suggested arguments especially with the lack of public input….that, in and of itself, should give pause for the CRA to slow the process down and rethink this suggestion.

So without further ado, please urge CRA members, especially Member Constance Scott, that any extension to the boozing, brawling and boondoggle of extended hours for alcoholic sales is not consistent with the family friendly atmosphere of Boca Raton’s downtown. 

Al Zucaro, Chairman

P.S.:  Is there any expansive development request that Downtown Advisory Committee chairperson and Planning and Zoning member Glenn Gromman does not favor?  He seems to take the public microphone both in Chambers and in the newspapers supporting anything and everything that developers bring down the line…

Is it that he is simply a developer whose professional life demands advancement for pro-development requests that are inherently in the development community’s best interests? 

I, for one, do not see how he can serve on the Downtown Advisory Committee and the Planning and Zoning committee with these unabashed and consistent pro-development propensities…..Al Zucaro        

Boca Resort & Club Up for Sale


The following letter has been sent to members of the Boca Resort Club… 

Dear Premier Members, 

In the long and illustrious history of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, a precious few have had the rare opportunity to be the stewards of this iconic institution. I am writing to make you aware that the current owners have decided to market the property for sale. They believe this is the perfect juncture for new ownership because of the strength and stability of the Resort & Club. This will allow its next owners to think and dream big, envisioning new heights and goals for which to strive. 

You can rest assured the new owner will be obligated to assume and satisfy all of the existing operating obligations of The Club and I fully expect a seamless transition as it pertains to your continued use and enjoyment. 

Over the course of the coming days this news will become available to the general public. As a courtesy to Premier Club members, you are learning of this information first. I will continue to keep you informed of developments as warranted. In the meantime, know that the team’s focus is solely on providing you excellent service and building on the Resort & Club’s culture of continuous improvement.

 Rick Hayduk, President   

Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Libeskind: Salesman for New Mizner on the Green


 Controversial starchitech Daniel Libeskind was in town last week as part of a PR push to convince Boca Raton that it needs four building that clash with and would dominate downtown Boca Raton. Boca Magazine has a good write up of his visit. However the real meat is in the Citizen comments that follow the article. A Boca patron of the arts who attended a special meeting with Libeskind at the Boca Raton Museum of Art commented in Boca Magazine: 

“Make no mistake, the cheesy event was a calculated attempt designed to promote an alien aesthetic at the expense of the hard won character achieved over decades. …..As for Daniel Libeskind’s patently insincere presentation (read ‘sales pitch’), and that he would deign to talk down to Boca Raton’s elite as though they were in kindergarten and needed to be taught about architecture, well that was downright insulting. Coming from the architect who was fired from the Freedom Tower and who can’t even secure a commission in his hometown of New York, it was also laughable.” 

An architect’s comment on Boca Magazine: 

“I have always been amazed that people fall for his slick, but wholly disingenuous sales pitch. When you learn to see past the chirpy sound bites (all calculated to appeal to the present audience), and recognize them from prior sales pitches, it doesn’t take much to see him for the shallow, superficial low-brow he is. But of course that is my subjective opinion as an architect with several degrees.” 

Other comments on Boca Magazine: 

“Poor Addison Mizner. He must be turning in his grave at the thought that his name might ever be sullied by association with a sham ‘architect’ like Libeskind. Addison’s architecture was sensitive to the local context, respectful of human scale and dignified, not to mention, beautiful. Libeskind’s architecture speaks to ego, personal stupidity, lack of sensitivity to the surroundings and expresses the kind of vulgarity that has no place in this town.” 

“Daniel Libeskind’s work has rightly been called ‘parasitic’. It relies for it’s effect on a deliberate and discordant contrast with the prevailing sense of place. In lieu of being able to create a refined design that respects adjacent structures and contributes to the visual cohesion and aesthetic harmony he offers a cheap and naively informed ‘novelty’…” 

“When I lived in Toronto I heard Daniel Libeskind talk about his impending addition to our lovely Royal Ontario Museum. We got the same peppy spiel about looking to the future, about being brave forward thinkers, etc.
Anyone who has seen the grotesque building Libeskind actually delivered will be shocked. Not only did he create a contorted clashing mess of misshapen glass and steel. he ruined the original historical building as well. (There’s plenty of pictures of the mess on line.) And then it turned out to be almost impossible to hang art on the sloping walls. (How does an architect overlook something so basic?) The Washington Post called Daniel Libeskind’s design “The Worst Building of the Century” and described it as “ugly AND useless”.” 

Don’t confuse ““weird shape” for “creative design” “ 

“My point is that in the hands of a truly creative architect, a developer’s financial objectives can be met even as he provides an aesthetically compatible design that respects the existing character and aesthetic quality of a town.” 

“Is Daniel Libesknd a smooth salesman? Absolutely! Especially if you are in need of some snake oil. There’s good reason why he’s been called “the Bernie Madoff of Architecture”” 

We checked on the content of the above Citizen comments by going to architectural journals. What we found confirmed what Boca Citizens are saying on Boca Magazine. Our hats are off to the well-informed Citizens who took the time to comment. 

From the Architectural Review: 

“Promising architect in his 40s who went wrong” 

“So Libeskind hit the big time and became a ‘success story’ and an international brand in the global star system. But perhaps he lost his architectural soul in the process, like so many other architects of his generation once trumpeted as being part of the supposedly ‘critical avant-garde’” 


From the Architectural Journal: 

“Libeskind’s pretentious glass wedges” 

“Don’t be fooled by that supercilious grin Libeskind dons for the cameras. It’s always been about his ego.Not least, Libeskind’s forms (in addition to being banal one-liners), are inherently hostile, brutal and aggressive.” 

“Libeskind was kicked off the World Trade Center projects after his shallow and superficial ideas were found to be offensive to many people. And it is with good reason that over a decade later he has yet to get a single commission in his home town of New York where he is widely known to be a charlatan and buffoon.” 

“Yet another formulaic Crystal from Libeskind. It would be nice if he bothered to think about his projects for even one or two minutes before he scribbled the usual drivel that informs all of his feeble work.” 

“The character of an existing building or neighborhood will be diminished as the “solution” will be brutal, insensitive and contextually inappropriate. Libeskind will fabricate some childish rhetoric linking the stock solution to the specific problem.” 


Miami Cubed COMMENT OF THE DAY, October 21, “Fact Check Alert!!! 1. Except for the ugliness, it will not be “unlike most of Libeskind’s other work”. It’s a re-hash / recycled version of his ugly Keppel Bay project. 2. You forgot to mention that it will incorporate Libeskind’s trademark ‘ugly as shit gfactor’.”—AntiChrist [Mama Mizner! Starchitect Daniel Libeskind Condos Coming to Boca Raton] 



Building Heights in Boca’s Downtown



I am sure all of us remember the days of our youth when each year, perhaps on our birthday, we were made to stand against a door jam and have a pencil mark measure the year over year height difference in a most graphic of ways…..Sadly, and much to my chagrin, that vivid truth does not transfer in building height restriction and the ordinances manipulated, I mean, interpreted to establish a simply truth….



In order to try to arrive at an answer devoid of spin and manipulation, one needs to travel down memory lane….beginning almost 2 ½ decades ago.

In March, 1998, the Boca Raton Downtown Development of Regional Impact (DDRI) was created.  This is a milestone for today’s building height debate.  Back then, in simpler terms, the DDRI crafted a background for growth and expansion in the downtown.

Design Guidelines (sound familiar) were adopted in October, 1992 with, I am sure, much the same acrimony that today’s version of design guidelines are faced with.

In May, 1993, the first version of Ordinance 4035 was adopted by a citywide referendum (at least the citizens got to vote on this), and, became the controlling development order for Downtown Boca Raton …..and, building heights were limited to 100 feet….

Fast forward now to November, 2008, Ordinance 4035 is amended by Ordinance 5052 and companion Ordinance 5051 to raise building heights to 140 feet with 160 feet maximum.

However, here is where the manipulated confusion begins….These ordinances also introduced the concept of “Interim Design Guidelines” through legislative action of the City Council, not referendum of the citizens.  However, these guidelines were not officially adopted and codified by the city.  They were simply attached to Ordinance 5052.

These building height limits were intended to apply to only certain areas of the downtown, not including Palmetto Park Road East, where the 100 feet height limit remained in effect.  Furthermore, these regulations require offsets by lower heights within each project, resulting in an average height of the project no greater than 100 feet.

Fast forward again to February, 2012….Ordinance 4035 is fast tracked to the City Council for amendment, resulting in Ordinance 5203, which extends the Interim Design Guidelines to an additional sub-area of the Downtown, East Palmetto Park Road, for the specific purpose of accommodating the Archstone development project. 

Without going too far afield, it should be remembered that in March, 2012, 1,111 citizens signed a petition to have the City Council repeal Ordinance 5203 or put the matter up for a City-wide referendum. The City Council and Archstone not only fought the citizens in court to invalidate the petition but actively went to Tallahassee to get legislation passed that now prevents the citizens from ever having a referendum vote on downtown development projects….but I digress…

At least one item remains in need of clarification….the discussions surrounding Ordinances 5051 and 5052 resulted in a Council consensus that these higher building types be designated “Landmark Buildings”.   “Landmark Buildings” were to be centered in the heart of the downtown, specifically on Palmetto Park Road and US 1 with great limitation on their number.  These consensus opinions were violated by the language of the Ordinances themselves and subsequent legislative actions and approvals of the then City Council. 

“The Mark” violates the stated intention of the City Council, as it does not face either US 1 or Palmetto Park Rd.  Via Mizner also violates their stated intention, as it quite distant from Palmetto Park Road and US 1. 

At this time, there still is no definition or guidelines for a “Landmark Building” designation.  With numerous projects already in the pipeline and more to follow, developers will continue to push for higher and higher buildings and for their proposed projects to be recognized as Landmarks or Iconic in some way.  This is not sound urban planning and steps need to be taken to prevent this free-for-all by the developers.

Simply put, the maximization of profit is based almost entirely on the cost of the dirt.  The higher the building, the cheaper the dirt….Developers cannot be blamed for wanting to maximize profit.  It is the job of the now, new city council to rein this in on behalf of the citizens. 

To this end, BocaWatch urges all concerned citizens to pick up the phone or send an email to our elected leaders insisting that 1) the building height in the downtown remain unequivocally 100 feet; 2) guidelines be put in place defining the “Landmark Building” concept with limitations demonstrably set as to location and look; and that 3) Ordinances 5051 and 5052 be amended to reflect the City Council consensus at the time of the public hearings that these ordinances, together with the attached Interim Design Guidelines would only apply to Landmark Buildings and not to all development projects in the downtown 2 acres or more in size.

Archstone-Palmetto Rental Development Update


It is now “Palmetto Promenade”: Same Project, New Name


In the past two years there have been a number of high-rise, high-density rental projects approved by the City Council/CRA, which are now under construction in Downtown Boca, and none had more of a reaction than the Archstone-Palmetto rental project.  It was a lightening rod for controversy.  The crux of the controversy was due to the approval process being accelerated, which left citizens, disenfranchised from the process and their government.

This is a development that will forever change the character of downtown Boca Raton. The Palmetto Promenade represents a large segment of a key area of the city’s Downtown, which was primed for redevelopment. The area is divided into two segments; a high-rise tower and townhouses.  It fronts the north side of Palmetto Park Road, two blocks west of NE 5th Ave and the Intracoastal.  To put the size into perspective, the building represents three football fields laid end-to-end. It includes a total of 378 rental units starting at 712 sq ft. The backside has townhouse rentals on Boca Raton Road within the Golden Triangle neighborhood.  Upon completion the tower segment will represent the most massive single structure in all of downtown Boca.  This is the only new development to actually sit in a neighborhood. The neighbors claimed that this design was not in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan or what Urban Designers would call proper development for this location. They were also extremely concerned about the safety of the intersection at 5th Ave & E Palmetto Park Road (future home of Houston’s), which was excluded from an outside study before approval of the project.

At a recent City Budget Hearing, the City Council has agreed to invest $50,000 for an evaluation of the intersection.

For more information, see Demolition starts in Boca to make way for apartment building.

Keep an EYE on BocaWatch


As you might expect, development issues are ultimately determined by a city’s elected officials.  The development community works very hard to stay in the ear of these officials and spends meaningful dollars to finance the campaigns of these people.  It is the developers and land use attorney’s livelihood and it is what they do.  That does not make it right.

Meanwhile, residents who object to the loss of “Boca as we know it” have yet to crack the code of a united front to explain in a calm and rational way to their elected officials that they do not like path the City’s development is on.  Most residents like new stuff.  They also favor progress.  What they don’t like is the magnitude, density, and congestion that will follow and then lead to a loss of the character that has made Boca special.

The latest and greatest news is that Boca Raton has been selected as the most livable city in Florida and the 11th in the country!   So some might say, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it.  This has been the lament of many Boca citizens….”let’s maintain the character and charm that brought us here”…what got us voted #1 in our state. Let’s not give it away!

So maybe it’s time for more citizen involvement and interaction, in a good way, with our City Council/CRA.  For those that feel saddened by the loss of character of a city that they have chosen to make their home, not all is lost.  Not yet anyway.  Our current Council seems to be more receptive to citizen opinions than the prior six years.  A friendly email to council members requesting a roll back to the one hundred foot limit and continual engagement with the City is a good start.  Attending a CRA or City Council meeting can make for an interesting and informative outing.  You could also set the DVR for these meetings and speed through the parts that give you the yawns.  Important things that directly affect your quality of life do occur at these meetings.  Don’t be caught unaware.  Let your voice be heard.

A final point, technology is an ally in disseminating information to a wide range of people in a timely fashion.  The BocaWatch website was created for this very purpose.  Save it as a favorite and visit it regularly to learn about new issues confronting Boca. Share with your friends and neighbors. Like us on Facebook and Twitter as well. At the end of the day, an elected official may care more about engaged residents who vote rather than a special interest group.

All city contacts are listed on the website under CONTACT INFO.  City meetings, dates and times including reruns on Boca TV 20 are listed under AGENDAS.  Please use this site as your resource for hot topics, news articles and upcoming and past meetings.

Keep an EYE on BocaWatch!

Kudos to City Council on New Goals to Include Citizens


A Report from the City Manager indicates that the directive from the City Council says “More Community Involvement”

September 18, 2104 the City Council held their Annual Budget Hearing. In that hearing the City Manager reported all of the goals set forth by our City Council Members in their 2014-2015 Goal Setting Session.  One of the Guiding Principles that came out of the session was a “strong partnership with the community”.   One of the High Priorities set is “Citizen Engagement Strategy and Action Plan”.

This is a great accomplishment for our City Council and the residents who have been diligent in their effort to communicate with the leadership.

During the budget meeting the City Council agreed to allot $50,000 to study and evaluate the intersection on E Palmetto Park Rd and 5th Avenue.  This intersection will be greatly impacted by the new development of the Archstone (now Greystar) rentals and the inevitable new Houston’s restaurant on the Wildflower property.  The intersection is already failing with regards to congestion and safety issues.  The residents have been asking the city to study this intersection since the Archstone development was going through the approval process.  This study was long overdue and important to the future of responsible growth and vision for the future of Downtown Boca and surrounding area.

The City also allocated funds to bring the libraries back to full service hours as well as allocating funds to study the Hillsboro El Rio for the possibility of a future building of a new Park.

New Houston’s Restaurant on Wildflower Site


The Wildflower property site at the Intracoastal Bridge on E. Palmetto Park Rd has sat vacant for years now.  The city purchased the land in 2009 for a relative bargain price of $7.5 million with the idea of adding waterfront dining to our city.  The city eventually put out a Request for Proposal (RFP). The only submission came from the Hillstone Restaurant Group (Houston’s).  Please visit the City’s website for the proposed plan

 After some time and community outcry, an additional presentation was made by Assistant City Manager George Brown and representatives of the Hillstone Group at the City Council meeting 9/9/14. The Council members voted unanimously to move forward and flesh out the presently sketchy plans in the hope of finding resolution. The following are the concerns presented by the community:

1. The best solution to resolve traffic and congestion at Palmetto Park Rd and 5th Ave.

2. They must not use or disrupt any parking from the Silver Palm Boat Ramp area just south of the proposed restaurant.

3. It was strongly recommended to add boat dockage to accommodate the boating community.

4. Make sure adequate parking is available and is based on entire dining, patio and bar space as indicated.

5. Nearby neighborhoods have asked to be included in the planning process, as it effects the traffic and safety in their neighborhood.

The City has one chance to plan this site right. One of the residents who lives in the area gave a presentation of his concerns and presented some well thought ideas and suggestions as to the best way to approach the traffic situation. Please view a 5 minute presentation of a 15 video.

 For more information please see the Sun Sentinel article by Anne Geggis written 9/10/14 on the News Article page of this website.

As an Addendum: At the City of Boca Raton Budget Hearing 9/19/14, $50,000 was allocated to evaluate the interesection of E Palmetto Pk Rd and 5th Ave. This is great and long overdue news for stakeholders who live and the area, as well as to all citizens and visotrs to Boca Raton. 



BocaWatch: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


For the last five years, I have been watching and commenting on the relationship between the citizens of Boca Raton and their local government leaders.  In short, this interaction has been a compilation of what can only be termed ‘the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.

Last year in reaction to some high density appovals and upcoming  City Council elections, BocaWatch, an issue oriented Political Action Committee, was launched with the intention of informing Boca’s citizenry of the events generally fitting under the headings stated above.  The items thought worthy of mention were outlined and electronically provided to the viewing citizens contained within its database, albeit a relatively small amount of viewers.

Since then, the BocaWatch site has been improved, expanded and modified to again provide information generally fitting within the headings above.   Bocawatch has also expanded its database to include likeminded people who are interested in knowing about and preserving the Boca lifestyle as it has become to be known and preserve the charm and style envisioned in the City’s history against unfettered growth and density which has been the hallmark of the past five years.

BocaWatch will provide information to its readers designed to inform and educate.  Topics will generally be presented in a factual and respectful way so that citizens will have time to be heard and the City Council will not act only on the presentations of developers and staff.

In the past, ‘the ugly’ has often dominated these interactions.  That is changing.  Elections do have consequences and the March Council elections seem to have brought a new attitude to the Council and a refreshing mood to look for and open more dialogue with the citizens.

From that, ’the good’ becomes readily apparent.   One need only watch the Council meeting to see this remarkable change in attitude.  Reacting to that is the fact that citizens are now becoming more engaged and the Council more open to alternate reasoned opinions.  All these signs are good things.

This is not to say that ‘the Bad’ is gone forever.  That is yet to be seen….

That is the purpose of BocaWatch….to bring relevant news to the citizens so that they can, at a glance, know the movement of the City Council, the City staff and the presenters that will always have a major influence on the lifestyle we have come to know and enjoy.

BocaWatch hopes to present ‘the good as well as the bad in order to help prevent the ugly’. 

That is our purpose and we trust you will find it informative enough to take a moment every time it is received to view what may be happening that is of interest to you and to our great city.

Thank you in advance for your interest, patience and participation.

Annexation: Is Bigger Necessarily Better?

When the question is asked, “Is annexation a good or bad thing?” the answer usually depends on who is being asked.  Even in a relatively small community like Boca Raton, the reasons to answer one way or the other vary widely.
 Boca’s history of annexation includes: The IBM APOC area in 1970, a then undeveloped future Woodfield Country Club in the early 80’s and, more recently, the Town Center Mall and surrounding areas in 2003.  In the first instance, you had existing and future commercial property.  In the second instance, there was undeveloped residential.  In third instance, there was predominately commercial with some surrounding developed residential.

 Once again, city officials are bringing forth the notion of annexation.  This time, the fully developed gated communities of Boca Grove Country Club and Saint Andrews Country Club are the prime targets.  This is unusual for the city, as it is one hundred percent residential.  This will most certainly be a hot button topic for the next budgetary year.

 As the public relations sale to the public begins, the driving theme is additional tax dollars for the city at a time when our city has run deficits due to the recent recession.  As the economy continues to heal and property values have once again resumed their inevitable march higher, the argument that beckons the need for additional tax dollars becomes weaker.  Further, the City of Boca Raton is hardly in financial dire straits, as evidenced by the city’s AAA bond rating.  Nonetheless, politicians will use the need for tax dollars as their mantra for their own agenda.  What agenda you ask?  Power.  It is no secret that the incestuous nature of gated community living tends to create the phenomena of voting as a block.  To the politician that means, win over one community leader and you have won potentially hundreds of votes.  For the politician, votes in their pocket are “game, set and match.”

 For those who look beyond the simple one-sided equation of more tax dollars, the question becomes, but at what cost?  Consider the cost of services and demands from these high-end communities and the net financial benefit could very well evaporate.

 As any city grows geographically, it increases the risk of creating factions that are not similarly aligned.  In the case of Boca, do the gated communities to the north and west share the same environmental concerns as our coastal residents on the eastern shore?  Do these same gated communities share the concerns regarding development of the downtown, or development in general, from their cocoons as those residents living east of I-95?  One would think not.  Existing and long-time residents of Boca Raton should be mindful of which votes will control the future of their city and not rush to bring in a whole new cadre of voters who have a different attitude that may undermine the character of Boca Raton, especially when the reward is marginal increased revenue to the city at best.

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