By Steve Plunkett

The Boca Raton City Council may act as soon as this month to designate the controversial Ocean Strand property public land instead of zoned for residential use.

With little discussion, the city’s Planning and Zoning Board endorsed the change for the 14.9 oceanfront acres on Dec. 8. 

City Planning and Zoning Manager Jim Bell said the new designation would allow structures totaling roughly 51,000 square feet to be built as long as they were park-related.

“I guess you could potentially have some commercial, but it would have to be park-related,” Bell said, mentioning bathrooms, a café or snack shop as possible buildings. “51,000 is rather limiting.”

The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns the property, did not oppose the land-use change.

“At the current time the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District will defer to the desires of the City Council,’’ the beach and park district wrote Mayor Susan Whelchel.

The district’s letter noted its deferral should not be seen as validating any claims by a grass-roots group that is suing to ban cabana clubs and other private uses at Ocean Strand. 

Bell said the Planning and Zoning recommendation could be on the City Council’s agenda Jan. 10.

The city and the beach and park district are waiting for the 4th District Court of Appeal to set a date for oral arguments in the grass-roots group’s lawsuit. The appellate judges should hand down a decision a month or two after the hearing, said Arthur Koski, the district’s     attorney.                                 Ú


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