Coming Soon… Oceanfront Development in Boca Raton – UNTHINKABLE or is it!?

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Publisher’s Comment:

As I wrote in my December 14, 2015 article, Fight Worth Fighting, preserving our beachfront from development is worth the fight. Residents have been up in arms over the possibility of now 2 oceanfront developments of housing projects on the east side of A1A ranging from 10 to 14,000 square feet at 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. Our elected officials are now being asked to grant the owners/developers necessary variances for building permits. This is unthinkable. Concerned residents headed up by Jessica Gray have formed a not-for-profit tax deductible organization to fight this fight. They are incurring expenses, retaining lawyers and seeking assistance. Participating is imperative…come to the group’s rallies; email and call city hall objecting to the variances; and contribute your time and money to assist them in protecting our beaches. One thing we, the residents, have learned is that our elected officials are not trustworthy to protect the people’s interest against the interests of big money. Residents can win but it takes commitment and involvement. Remember the Wildflower….Tell our elected officials to say no to oceanfront development…a fight worth fighting!!!

Al Zucaro

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Boca Raton is known for its lavish beaches, parks, nature trails and golf courses. But, this year – it is all about to change.

For the first time in over 35 years, two beachfront developments will be presented to the City Council for approval. The two mega mansions, one spanning over 14,000 square feet, will be plopped right onto the protected dune systems of Boca Raton’s pristine beaches; an area currently frequented by nesting sea turtles.  An area that may soon house construction equipment, if all goes according to the owner/developer’s plan. Imagine in 90 days, Boca Raton will have its first beachfront development, since an ordinance protecting beachfront land was passed in 1981.

The Costal Construction Control Line (CCCL) ordinance states, “no person shall: a) construct any structure whatsoever, b) make any excavation, c) remove any beach materials or alter existing ground elevations, or d) drive any motor vehicle on or over or cross any sand dune, or damage or cause to be damaged such sand dune or the vegetation growing thereon” on the dune system.  A variance to the CCCL must be approved by the majority of the City Council in order to start construction; rejecting this variance request is the last opportunity to block the unthinkable destruction on our pristine beachfront.

How did we get here???

One may ask, why would someone buy properties knowing the lots are unbuildable?  Why would the City Council have already granted a variance on the 2500 property in 2015 when the owner/developer caused the hardship on which they complained of by their own actions?

Residents can place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Haynie and Councilman Singer.  Mayor Haynie has been heard in public to say that granting the 2015 variance for 2500 N. Ocean was merely a formality and that there would be ample time and opportunity to stop this intrusive beach development.  Well Mayor Haynie, if that were true then and remains true now, the Council is now at the last opportunity to stop the owner/ developer from this unthinkable intrusion…now is time, now is the last time to act!

Councilman Singer, on the other hand, folded like a cheap suit in the September 2015 by voting to grant the original variance on 2500 N. Ocean, arguing that the city would lose in court to the owner/developer and would be at risk for untold damages.   The City Attorney, that evening, on the public record, provided insight into the legal options with  remarks suggesting that each property is unique and that each set of circumstances would be looked at individually in defense of granting or rejecting a variance.  The city attorney stated clearly that rejecting the variance would be defensible in any subsequent legal challenge.

So now, we, residents, are faced with the last opportunity to protect and preserve our beach front.

As outlined in the City’s Code both 2500 and 2600 N. Ocean Blvd must request a variance to the CCCL; a variance without which the owner/developer will not be issued a building permit.  The owner/developer of these properties will argue that without the variance they will be subject to the unfair burden of having lots that are unbuildable.

In the case of 2500, the owner/developer contributed to this outcome when he purchased one undivided lot east and west of roadway A1A.  The owner/developer then divided the lot into two parcels; sold the west lot portion to a related entity leaving the east lot portion unbuildable at 88 feet wide and requiring an initial variance from the minimum of 100 feet wide required by city code.  The City Council in a 4 – 1 vote with Council Jeremy Rodgers being the only dissenting vote granted the variance.

In plain language, our elected officials need to think long and hard before granting any further variances to allow these requested intrusions to Boca Raton’s beach front properties.

Preserving our beaches has always been a guiding principal in Boca Raton, a principal that remains in effect today.  This is a fight worth fighting for…

Below are live links to previous articles and commentaries in BocaWatch which, starting in September 2015, provides you, the reader, the necessary history regarding this matter.  Please review….

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Take a look at what is projected to be built at 2600 N. Ocean Blvd. https://azurefl.com/portfolio_page/boca-beach-house/

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The process and timeline to Save Our Beaches involved here is immediate and imperative….and is outlined generally here:

  1. Home plans are submitted to Applied Technology Management https://www.appliedtm.com/. These are the same consultants who approve beach dredging in Boca Raton. The consultant has 45 days to recommend approval to start building.
  2. Once the recommendation is in City Staff’s hands, it is placed on the agenda for Boca Raton’s Environmental Advisory Board within 30 days for review and recommendation.
  3. The EAB’s recommendation will be placed on the City Council’s agenda within 30 days for final approval.
  4. The City Council is the last stop. If the CCCL variance is granted only a Circuit court challenge can stop these projects.

Once our beaches are gone, we cannot get them back.

Please visit www.bocasob.com to get involved.  Become active…Raise your voice and act immediately by making a tax deductible contribution to Boca Save Our Beaches.  This tax-deductible contribution will help fund the legal challenges required in preserving our beaches for all to enjoy.

Boca Save Our Beaches has retained legal counsel to advance the legal arguments….We residents know full well that depending on the elected officials to act in the best interests of the residents is risky at best….

BocaWatch

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. We can only hope our City Council will get the message. Do not allow this desecration. We had a long standing policy, an understanding, a precedent that successfully protected our beaches. That is until greed and weak politicians entered the fray. With a little rethinking of the situation, hopefully Council members will see their way to eliminate any intrusion on our signature beaches.

  2. Probably wont get published, but take a chill pill. Its ok if beaches are used for development — or at minimum, across the beach like in Delray. How about a great hotel at A1A and Palmetto where that eye sore of a commercial building now sits? I suggest you relax, take a breath and think about all the nice tax dollars which would come flooded into Boca Raton and lower the massive property taxes. Feel better? Plenty of very educated people don’t feel the same as you… Hard to believe, I’m sure.

    • Mr. Price….BocaWatch is a community voice platform. Your opinion is welcomed and helps to foster debate. It will be interesting to see what, if any, response your comment will generate. Thank you for your participation and your readership. You are welcome to write a rebuttal. Al Zucaro, Publisher

    • Hi Tom,

      With respect, we have developed across the beach like Delray; you can see that in the photo above.

      Regarding tax dollars:
      – These two buildings would have zero effect on our tax bills; they represent about one gazillionth of our tax base
      – Even if they did lower my taxes by two or three dollars, I’d gladly pay to keep our beaches undeveloped
      – Boca has so much cash laying around – we don’t need the extra $$

      Finally, there are plans, vetted by both the developer and affected citizens, for redevelopment of the corner at A1A and Palmetto.

    • No, we are not Deerfield, nor are we Ft.Lauderdale
      Too much developmrnt in Boca. Leave our beaches alone … this is why I moved here in 1973 …

    • I agree. After reading through all this, it amounts to people who live close to this area who are pissed that a big bad building will block their view.

      The plans I have seen incorporate the beaches, are minimally intrusive and will help with beach erosion. On top of that, it will being in much needed tax dollars for the city.

      Can anyone give me a reason why this is a bad thing?

      • Friend, I was going to respond with a detailed analysis of why you are an idiot but I won’t. Boca value is $22 billion in property etc. We are the richest city in the state with the lowest taxes. We don’t need any money. This is the same ignorant story the developers are using to put 2500 boxes with windows over in midtown with 4000 folks and 4000 cars. More tax dollars is a lie. I am wondering who are you. You seem to have a rational problem when you mention that a gigantic mansion on the beach will help with beach erosion. Your statements seem a little goofy.

  3. Just when you thought the politics of unfettered development in Boca were changing, along comes this “blast from the past.” One can only hope that yesterday’s CRA meeting at which four Council Members refused to approve the monstrously large 200 Mizner project and sent it back for further consultation with affected neighbors was a harbinger of the future. With elections looming in March 2018, Council members should tread very cautiously when considering variances for construction on Boca’s beautiful beaches. This is time for profiles in courage in the face of pit bull legal threats.

    • What is your opposition to the project? I can’t see anything wrong with it from what I have read. maybe I am missing something tho?

  4. Mr. Price,
    You will be happy to learn the commercial building on the corner of A1A & E. Palmetto will be gone to new development.

    If you think development should be on our beaches, may I suggest you move to any number of other cities to the north & south of us that may give you what you want. Having no development on Boca’s beaches is why our city is so “unique.” Please look up the definition.

  5. The Coastal Construction Control line is not a line of prohibition but a line of regulations. City Code of Ordinances, Sec. 28-1556. – Coastal construction setback (3) adopts the county coastal construction control line as established by the department of environmental protection, as specified under F.S. § 161.053, and recorded in the public records of the county in plat book 80, pages 137 through 155. The state statues clearly permits construction, as proposed, provided certain conditions are satisfied as prescribed in the State Statues and by Administrative Code CHAPTER 62B-33 RULES AND PROCEDURES FOR COASTAL CONSTRUCTION AND EXCAVATION (PERMITS FOR CONSTRUCTION SEAWARD OF THE COASTAL CONSTRUCTION CONTROL LINE AND FIFTY-FOOT SETBACK) adopted by the City.

    If you ignore the Code adoption of Florida State Statues then the city would not be able maintain the beaches.

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site states “The Coastal Construction Control Line Program (CCCL) is an essential element of Florida’s coastal management program. It provides protection for Florida’s beaches and dunes while assuring reasonable use of private property”.

    • The CCCL issue is a red herring that Mr. Weinroth used to justify his yes vote on the variances that were granted for the 2500 project. He stated that he did not approve anything , that somehow the magical CCCL would save us from his approval (yes, it WAS an approval).

      If you want to see the practical effect of the CCCL in terms of inhibiting development on the beach, simply take a drive up A1A through Highland Beach and witness the building that has occurred on the beach over the last 20 years or so……

      The rest of the yes votes were, apparently, caving in to the possibility of having a lawsuit filed against the city. For what? Following the law? It is perfectly acceptable for our leaders to not grant variances under any circumstances. In fact, they are not supposed to grant variances unless unless all conditions for granting the variances are met, and even then there is no requirement that variances be issued. This was a pure failure of leadership and courage……….

      • I’m sure Mr. Weinroth, like many readers of this blog, have mistakenly believed that the CCL is a prohibition line to construction. This article tries to further that misunderstanding of the CCL by omitting the section of the city code that adopts FSS. You don’t have to look further then third paragraph of this article to find a red herring.

  6. Once again, Boca bows to the money argument, whether it be the weak ‘tax revenue’ argument, or developer dollars. With so much development happening elsewhere in our city, I literally can’t think of a better place to draw the line, then on our beaches. It’s absurd it’s gotten this far. Then again, with this city’s leadership, it doesn’t surprise me. Scott Singers vote was disheartening, but seems to be a pattern. Thank God Jeremy Rodgers voted against it. We can only hope that being vocal and supporting Jessica Gray’s team will save us from yet another tragic mistake. A permanent and ugly one at that. Please, write your leaders, show up at meetings and help fund efforts to ensure this doesnt get any further.

  7. “The owner sold the west lot portion leaving the east lot portion unbuildable at 88 feet wide and requiring a variance from the minimum of 100 feet wide required by city code”.

    Knowing the more valuable parcel would become unbuildable why would he do it? Is it because he has seen the record of our city council bend over backwards time and again to pacify rich land owners? And figured with time and money they would do it again. He knew he was rolling the dice or hoping the members would simply roll over. Seeing what’s happening at 2600 2500 is going to try the same . Who is next. How can you say yes to one and not all that follow?

    The city allows the cutting of the seagrapes along A1A, why? For all to see the ocean and beach, put up the monster, private homes and that view will become the exclusive view of few rather than the deserving many. In their heart of hearts the city council members must know it is not the right thing to do for 99.9% of Boca Raton residents and they are the only people that they represent.
    I doubt if the property owners are local voters and if they are a couple of council members may loose a vote or 2.

    Stand on that parcel of land and soak in the brilliance of the scene. Then close your eyes and picture it gone forever….

  8. ***Last Year:
    “..leaving the east lot portion unbuildable at 88 feet wide and requiring an initial variance from the minimum of 100 feet wide required by city code. The City Council in a 4 – 1 vote with [Deputy Mayor] Jeremy Rodgers being the only dissenting vote granted the variance.”
    ***

    I would let your Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks commissioners know that THEY should be buying these beach parcels. They recently made a $22M offer on a foreclosed (and deed restricted, no development allowed) golf course appraised at less than 1/3 that value.
    http://www.mybocaparks.org/district-commissioners

  9. Martin and others are missing the point. If we allow that one mansion to go up others will follow. Within 5 years boca beaches will look like California along their coast. First these developers wanted to steal our parks now they want to steal our beaches. Boca has become a great city that developed a park system along with all grade A schools. We also guarded our beaches like they were jewels and now some members on our city council and the chamber want to give it away. First sign of a lawsuit they will fold like an accordion . No backbone on what is right. Bunch of empty suits. This rogue shadow government has to end soon. We only got 8 months to election time. Time to get organized like we did for the Wildflower site. This city needs new leaders and soon . Ocean Strand is also a major concern . The consultants proposed a restaurant there??We need to fire them asap and get folks in there that will get with the program. I was shocked when I saw that EDSA presentation. I was also shocked when I saw the Wildflower site recommendations. The 2 options were weak. I thought it was ironic how certain members of the council were sitting there enjoying EDSA stuff like it was their idea when they voted against the parks. Height of hypocrisy . Beyond belief. I nearly threw up. Saturday Night Live At Its Best. Only in boca.

  10. I can’t understand why these people are making such a big deal!! Let them build, Boca Raton is known as the Beverly Hills of the East Coast. I don’t see a problem at all. We need growth, people need jobs. If you are so close minded perhaps you should move elsewhere.

  11. To the people who say “get over it” or chill out. I don’t think that the wildlife that will be killed / displaced by the construction and presence of the buildings (if they are built) will ever get over it.
    Every time I pass the structures I will see them as monuments to avarice and a decadent lifestyle with no concern for the public good and distain for the environment.
    As for the Tax revenue; will it offset the additional costs to support whatever is there? I hear we have to “outsource trash collection or raise taxes” due to all the new residences planned. Whoops! I thought that wasn’t to happen.
    It is counterintuitive but the most dense places on the planet are the costliest to live in, have the most crime and pestilence.
    With respect to Boca becoming a world class city; do we really want to call that much attention to ourselves? I’m just thinking about recent events in London, Paris, and Barcelona to mention a few.
    Keep up the good work Jessica! Keep at it Al!

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