By Sallie James
The hot-button issue of building height and how it affects residents who live on the barrier island near East Palmetto Park Road is cooling off.
City Council members at their meeting Feb. 28 approved an amendment that establishes a 30-foot height limit on future construction in the area’s business district east of the Intracoastal Waterway and adjacent to East Palmetto Park Road. The amendment was crafted to quell residents’ fears that towering new buildings would mar the area’s unique ambiance.
Specifically, the 30-foot height limit would apply to all structures east of the Intracoastal Waterway. Buildings west of the Intracoastal could rise to a maximum height of 50 feet if city officials determine the additional height is “not injurious” to surrounding property.
The amendment was approved about three months after plans for the Chabad of East Boca to build a sprawling orthodox synagogue and museum in the area were halted in the wake of a series of court rulings. Height was a hotly contested aspect of the proposed worship center and museum.
The synagogue/museum project came to a grinding halt after the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach declined to hear an appeal to allow the proposed 18,000-square-foot project, at 770 E. Palmetto Park Road. Chabad of East Boca had filed the appeal after a lower court in June ruled the city erred in allowing the project because zoning in the area did not permit a museum.
Residents on the barrier island protested the synagogue and museum because of the project’s size, parking concerns, and proposed height, nearly 41 feet.
The newly approved height limits along East Palmetto Park Road were established to eliminate similar conflicts in the future.
“This is sort of a very resident-friendly amendment to the ordinance,” said Glenn Gromann, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, which also reviewed and recommended the height amendment.
Resident Kevin Meaney was thrilled with the city’s action.
“I live on the barrier island and my main concern is the barrier island and the homes adjacent to the B-1 [zoning]. I would like to support this being passed to protect those residents on either side of the road,” Meaney said.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said at the Feb. 28 meeting.
By Sallie James