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.
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.