By Steve Plunkett

Highland Beach town commissioners on Aug. 2 postponed discussing whether to have their staff review and approve building permits for Gulf Stream projects after Delray Beach pulled out of a similar arrangement in May.
Because Mayor Doug Hillman was absent, Vice Mayor Natasha Moore moved the agenda item to an Aug. 4 special meeting.
“He wanted to be part of that discussion,” Moore said.
But resident Jack Halpern said it was “highly disappointing” to him as he read the meeting agenda beforehand to see the proposal up for consideration with little to no discussion in previous meetings.
“I absolutely cannot understand why we are offering services of Highland Beach to support Gulf Stream,” he said. “There is no benefit, no added benefit to the residents of Highland Beach.”
According to the proposed agreement: “Fees charged to Gulf Stream properties shall be the same as those charged to Highland Beach properties, and all permits shall be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis, with permits from neither municipality receiving priority over the other.”
Gulf Stream town commissioners were expected to OK the agreement at their Aug. 12 meeting.
Because of Delray Beach’s long processing times, Gulf Stream officials had been advising residents to hold off on applying for building permits until Highland Beach could take over. Highland Beach has said most permits could be approved in 10 days.
Highland Beach Building Official Jeff Remas has said Gulf Stream generates 800 to 900 permit applications a year. He said Highland Beach is processing 2,000 to 2,100 permits a year, so adding Gulf Stream work would be a 40% increase by his calculations.
Delray Beach stopped performing engineering, floodplain and landscaping review for Gulf Stream plans last spring after it discovered its building department was doing them without needed City Commission approval.
Gulf Stream temporarily enlisted its consulting engineering firm Baxter & Woodman for the engineering and floodplain portions of the permits, and landscape architect Dave Bodker of Delray for the landscape review.
Delray Beach officials had told Gulf Stream the city would have to charge extra for those reviews — which Delray residents receive as part of the normal permit process — even though Gulf Stream residents paid the same fees as their Delray Beach counterparts.
City officials also had warned that Delray Beach politics might thwart extending an agreement with Gulf Stream.
“It seems the constituents are very upset with the amount of time it is taking to process their permits,” so they ask “why are they also processing Gulf Stream’s permits,” Gulf Stream Assistant Town Attorney Trey Nazzaro had said.
The agreement between Highland Beach and Gulf Stream would be of a “continuing nature,” with either side able to terminate it by giving no less than 90 days’ written notice.

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