By Sallie James
The Boca Raton Planning and Zoning Board recommended that the City Council approve a proposed ordinance requiring nursing homes to install permanent emergency generators that could power the facilities for up to 96 hours.
The measure, which the Planning and Zoning Board approved at its Oct. 5 meeting will now go to City Council for consideration.
The proposed ordinance comes just weeks after the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Broward County lost air conditioning for three days after Hurricane Irma and 12 residents died as a result of sweltering conditions.
It's unclear if any of the retirement facilities in the city were notified of the Planning and Zoning Board agenda item. A representative from Banyan Place assisted senior living said he learned of the meeting by chance and voiced concern over a requirement that a diesel generator be used instead of natural gas. Storing large amounts of diesel fuel would be costly and pose a safety hazard, he said.
Board member Kerry Koen said the ordinance needed additional vetting and agreed that retirement facilities should be included in the process.
One resident lauded the Planning and Zoning Board action, calling the measure "good governance" and "pro-active leadership."
Board member Larry Snowden said he felt a sense of urgency that the board move the measure forward, even if the council was to tweak the ordinance.
The generator requirement would apply to adult congregate living facilities, nursing homes and convalescent centers. The generators would have to be installed by June 2018.
The primary purpose of the proposed ordinance is to ensure the retirement facilities are “self-reliant in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane event where there could be an extended time period with a loss of power,” according to a city memo.