Councilman Scott Singer has responded to the e-mails sent by many of our residents. Thanks to all who took action, and read the Councilman's response, below.
Dear Mr. Dicker,
Thank you for your email and taking the time to write. I appreciate your concerns and would like to share a little more with you about last week’s vote. The vote dealt only with one specific, privately owned parcel. It does not concern the nearly 5 miles of Boca beaches that are owned by the public orcondo associations and restricted from development. Nor does it deal with any other undeveloped parcels on the beach.
Rather, an applicant sought a variance to build a single-family home on one lot, which was 11.5 feet less than the minimum width of 100 feet. I reviewed the city’s history and found that since the late 1980s, 19 similar lot-width variance requests were made, and all 19 were granted. This includes 13 variances located within just a few hundred yards of the site. In addition, both federal and state law give many protections to owners of private property and can impose substantial damages for claims barring its use. I felt compelled to consider all of this background, and the city’s position in a possible lawsuit with potentially large damages and legal expenses that all taxpayers might have to bear.
This was not a rezoning, where the council has broader discretion to grant or deny requests. Recently, I voted against a larger rezoning, and have voted no on other requests for variances and technical deviations. In this matter, the applicant had originally requested a second variance on the front-yard setback. I said I could not support that request, and the applicant withdrew it.
In this difficult quasi-judicial hearing, I grudgingly voted in favor of the request, which was granted by a 4 to 1 vote. This decision was not pleasant for me, but I felt I had to vote on the record before us.
Of course, I appreciate your and other residents’ concerns, including those of the neighbors closest to this site. I also hear and value the views about preserving our beaches, which I share. This lot, though, is the only vacant parcel east of A1A that is less the minimum width, so no other landowner on the beach should be able to point to this decision. The other miles of beachfront will not change because of this limited issue.
As highly as I regard concerns about development and natural spaces, I was obligated to consider the specific information before us. I also appreciate your request for reconsideration, but the city code does not allow a motion for reconsideration on resolutions, which this vote was.
Thank you again for your thoughts and sharing them with me.
Joe Pedalino's original mailing to residents follows:
Dear Boca Residents,
A monumental and symbolic decision was made at City Council last Tuesday night. This has nothing to do with the downtown and high-rises that so many have been vocal about. This is about Boca's greatest natural asset...Our beaches.
A piece of property along our sand dunes has been approved for development due to a variance granted by City Council to build over 10,000 sq ft, 4-story mega mansion. The owner bought the property knowing they could not build without variances. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA) turned it down twice only to be appealed and than approved by our City Council in a 4-1 vote.
It's the only area where we can see the ocean along our Boca beach strip, which is what makes our City stand out from the Cities to the north and south.
All may not be lost if you write Councilman Scott Singer and Mayor Susan Haynie. You may copy and paste the following letter, just add their names and yours. ssinger@ci.Boca-Raton.fl.us firstname.lastname@example.org
Our beach is our greatest asset. This belief has been a consistent mantra of Boca Raton residents and elected officials for decades.
We, residents, are truly concerned over the granting of a variance for the development of 2500 N. Ocean.
The applicant, in this case, contributed significantly to the concerns of which he complains. The record evidence supports a decision in either direction.
The granting of a variance is a discretionary action by the local legislative body.
Residents believe that had the decision been to deny the applicant may file an appeal.
Residents also believe that given the totality of circumstances, a reviewing court will not overturn the denial. The record contains qualitative evidence to support a denial.
We residents are requesting that either or both of you, as members of the prevailing side, file a Motion to Reconsider the Dec. 8th decision with the intent of changing your vote from approval to denial.
The residents of Boca Raton are outraged that the city council would, under any circumstances, encroach upon the pristine nature of our beaches.
The resulting damage is forever; the greater good is at risk.
This is a fight worth fighting. Your reconsideration is the residents’ voice in this fight.
This is a Publication of BTCA, Inc.