This past Thursday night’s ZBOA (Zoning Board of Adjustment) meeting was one of the better meetings held by the City in years because we learned a lot about City Staff. Why? It proved that City Staff does not know the rules. Variances are granted to property owners only if they can prove hardship. That is City code. But, the City’s staff planner was ignorant of this. Why are City employees uneducated and not properly trained on what it is they are supposed to enforce? It comes down to bad management.
The applicant bought the land at 2500 N Ocean Blvd. several years ago knowing that under code a lot must be a minimum of 100 feet wide. This lot is 88.5 wide so to build his 10,000 Sq Ft, 4 story residence on the ocean required a variance for width. On top of that, code requires a residence must be 25 feet from the property line facing the street, just like your and my home. Here again, the applicant wanted a variance allowing for 14.5 feet from A1A. The worst part is City Staff supported their application. The applicant can build a smaller, maybe 4,000 sq ft. residence on the property but that isn’t good enough. No, they want 10,000 feet and City Staff says, that’s OK. And, City management, George Brown, in this case, says it’s OK. Is this really a hardship? And, think about where they want to build – in the sea grape along the ocean side of A1A. Mr. Brown was not protecting our or the City’s interests, he was giving away exceptions to the code.
One ZBOA member stated we should allow variances that help the property owner. Really? The City is not in the business of supporting the profitability and return on investment of property owners. Why is this guy on the ZBOA?
The best part was the heads up response of member Hendrik DeMello who voiced the rule stating “variances may not be granted if a hardship is not shown” and a 6,000 sq ft difference in a residence’s size does not qualify for a hardship. Mr. DeMello won the day for the citizens of Boca Raton and showed that Staff has not a clue with respect to following code.
Kudos to Zoning Board of Adjustments for making the “right decision” in a 5-1 vote to not allow the variance in additional size be granted.