The pay to play culture still seems alive and well in Boca Raton government, even after a mayor was arrested and suspended with four felony and three misdemeanor charges. Recent events associated with the Tower 155 development are illuminating.

Some background is that on January 13, 2015 the Boca Raton City Council approved Ordinance 5289, that reduced the minimum parcel size for a 160’ building from 2.0 acres to 1.2 acres at the request of the developers of Tower 155. The Tower 155 parcel size is 1.25 acres. Let that sink in. Residents opposing the Ordinance contacted City Council members and spoke at City meetings on the subject. Ignoring residents, the ordinance passed 3-2 with Scott Singer, Robert Weinroth and Michael Mullaugh voting YES! The scope of the ordinance is the entire downtown area, even though the intent was to do a favor for just the Tower 155 developer. The following picture shows the result:

Tower 155 has been in the news again recently when the developer submitted an application to use a vacant parcel across NE Mizner Blvd as an employee parking lot and material staging area for the development. City staff recommended “denial” of the request based on the proposed use being incompatible with the adjacent residential uses to the east of the property. Several nearby residents opposing the projects also contacted City Council members and spoke at City meetings on the subject. Following is a picture of the lot.

Tower 155 Temporary Parking Lot

A vote was taken on the application to use the lot as a Tower 155 employee parking and staging area and the application was rejected by a 2-2 vote. Voting YES to approve the Tower 155 developer’s request was Scott Singer and Jeremy Rodgers.

What motivates elected officials, who are supposed to represent the residents who elected them, to ignore the recommendations of experts and the requests of residents impacted by their decisions? Pay attention to past and future campaign finance articles published by Bocawatch for the answer to that question.

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Jim Wood is a 25-year citizen of Boca Raton. Upon arriving in Boca from Arizona, Jim and his family had a house built in Broken Sound in the western section of the City. After the last of their three children left for college Jim and Trish downsized and relocated to east Boca, where they have lived for 18 years. His volunteering activities include serving eight years on an advisory board in the City. Jim is a computer engineer who advanced into executive positions with telecommunications companies Siemens and Lucent. He holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and management, a master’s degree in computer engineering and an MBA. He is also a veteran who served four years on active duty with the United States Air Force. His interests include cycling (A1A), guitar (acoustic) and cooking (healthy comfort food). He is a member of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the FAU Alumni Association.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Scott Singer has always supported the developer. He is an opportunist, here are five examples:

    Voted to build over 3,000 residential units with no consideration for their effect on the community. He left out any action on infrastructure and schools, only paying attention when residents cried foul.

    Voted to build on the beach so a developer could attempt to sell the property back to the City or Parks District for $20,000,000, yes, That’s million. The developer paid $680,000 a year before and Singer fought hard for the variance to build.

    He voted for the most egregious variance in the CRA as in the article above, Tower 155. He is all about getting money for his next political aspiration.

    Mr. singer said it was OK to violate City code by Tower 155 using the lot with no permit, as per above. He voted for it.

    Mr Singer did nothing knowing Mayor Haynie violated the law for a developer, protecting future contributions for himself. So much for a Harvard trained lawyer.

    And Scott, please refute what you see as any lies in these comments.

  2. Jim, The remarkable thing to keep in mind, City Staff’s “recommendation” as follows:
    City Staff, Developmental Services Department recommends “DENIAL” for the following reasons: Incompatible with adjacent residential uses, NOT compatible with residential street – therefore, based upon this use; it would constitute a nuisance.
    Elected officials are there to advocate for the best interest of the residents whom represent – they are told/recommended: Denial, and specifically as to why. Then you vote ‘Yes’ against City Staff and against the best interests of the residents and their neighborhood. Amazing! Voting in favor of something that would constitute a nuisance!!
    Keep one thing in mind as brought up by a planning and zoning board member when asking: “…why wasn’t the question of construction worker’s parking and staging addressed when the permit was ORIGINALLY pulled on this development…”. Good question!

  3. Jim you raise very good questions, what is their motivation to make it so easy on these developers ? If you and I applied for a variance to our homes we would be laughed out of the building department.

    Time to drain the swamp !!!!!!!!!

  4. Has anyone checked out the cracks in the Post Office walls? All because of allowing approval for Tower 155, and at what cost? This was a great little city but now almost unrecognizable. Please stop destroying our city!

  5. The sad thing about the picture of Tower 155, aka The Incredible Hulk, is that it shows it only half built. Don’t forget that in addition to allowing construction of a 2-acre building on a 1.2 acre lot, Councilmen Singer, Weinroth and Mullaugh voted to add to the building’s height. It will rise, not ten stories, but twelve stories straight out of the ground right next to the sidewalk on SE Mizner Blvd. The building is so big on such a small lot that the contractors cannot even build it without closing off half of the adjacent roads to traffic and requesting an additional “staging area.” Voting to disregard the complaints of nearby residents to allow the use of a vacant lot as a construction site is typical of the way Boca USED to do business. And no one is talking about the harm to the local businesses like Adriana’s Tailoring who have seen visits and sales plummet as access to their shops on East Boca Raton Road is made to give way to the street-blocking developer and his $ multi-million condo project. Hulk 155 may be the Taj Mahal when it is finished, but is the Taj Mahal on a postage stamp. And the alley behind the building is wide enough for little more than bowling. Just go over there and take a look. I was disappointed when Scott Singer voted for the enabling ordinance 2015, and I’m disappointed in him now for his vote on the staging area. Resident friendly?

  6. For once I actually AGREE with BocaWatch! A broken clock is right twice a day after all. Tower 155 is a disaster. Sales have been lackluster at best. I can’t imagine why—a building touting views overlooking the alley behind the post office and an outdoor mall built in the mid-90s. The finishes are basic entry-level thanks to the one-trick-pony design aesthetic of Interiors by Steven G. He was sued for this after all. Anyone looking to cut a check for seven figures on a condo has PLENTY of other good options (The Monarch, Mandarin Residences, 327 Royal Palm, Ocean Palm). The building is far too big for the parcel it’s on and the “nouveau deco” design would be more at home in Miami than Boca. The reason this building has taken so long to come out of the ground is because the sales had been sluggish from the beginning. How Compson could offer with a straight face studio units starting at $500k is beyond comprehension. This isn’t Brickell and this building isn’t a hotel-branded 5-star residence. It’s also wildly funny how one of their “amenities” is their proximity to Mizner Park, which as of late, is dying on the vine. This project is a loser all the way around. I’m sure those daft enough to put down deposits will be pleased when they take occupancy in 2021. Good projects are worth waiting for. This isn’t one of those projects.

  7. The fact is this was done as a favor to the owner of the lot. He is a really nice guy. But, it was the wrong thing to do for everyone else. Those voting for this building should be ashamed. A vote for this was against the residents. Furthermore, if they would have voted “NO” then an agreement would have eventually been reached with an adjacent neighbor to combine two parcels and build a proper building to code.

    The solution is very simple, only give variances when it benefits the community in it’s entirety. But, then again look at the donor’s list and you will understand who paid for this vote. Learn from this and only vote for politicians that care about you and not the fat cat donors.

  8. When we had a CC that actually cared about Boca there was a vision for our cities future growth. That is why the planning and zoning placed height and unit restrictions. Then the carpet baggers were elected and gave variances and exceptions to the developers. If anyone noticed some in the city gave a part of Royal Palm road just west of Mizner Blvd To a developer to build their vision. Who gives away a part of a thoroughfare?

  9. 155 is just one example of packing 10 lbs of sausage in a 3lb bag. Who does this to their city? Those who approved this should have their financial records forensicly examined. One mayor was hauled off to jail, who’s next? Unfortunately we can’t undo the impacts of 155 but we should hold council members accountable at the very least by voting them out of office.

  10. These YES votes tell the future for Boca Raton. Take a good look at that building.
    If you have had enough of the ‘Boca give-a-way’ vote for councilmembers who will say ‘Yes’ to the residents. Kathy Cottrell and Al Zucaro will stop this insanity.

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