By Margie Plunkett
Neighbors wearing “No 7-11” T-shirts took the podium at Boca Raton City Hall one after another to protest the possibility of a convenience store on the barrier island.
The appeal of an addition and modification of 831 E. Palmetto Park Road, which the protesters appeared at the Boca Raton Council meeting to support, wasn’t on the agenda, but they had their say.
The appeal was postponed until Nov. 22, at the request of appellant Ralf Brookes, on behalf of residents, and site-plan applicant Doug Mummah, who represents owner James H. Batmasian.
Both Brooks and Mummah said there are discussions being held that could end in a withdrawal of the appeal, according to a city memo.
The residents argued against a project that could include a convenience store, noting that it isn’t compatible with the area. “Why would we invite someone who drinks on the beach?” said one resident.
A convenience store wouldn’t serve the residents, but those from the outside, speakers said. The people who buy a six-pack would likely dump their empties rather than risk being caught by police with open containers, said Nancy Hendry.
The residents commented on the newly improved western portion of Palmetto Park Road, which was earlier identified as an area in the downtown that was to be revitalized, according to City Manager Leif Ahnell. “It was 60 percent paid for by the downtown business owners as a special assessment,” he said.
Mayor Susan Whelchel chided the eastern residents for not getting involved starting in 2006 with the design of Palmetto Park Road despite repeated invitations and opportunities.
Robert Ocksman, who filed the notice of appeal against the property at 831 East Palmetto Park Road, said that while the mayor may have reached out to the Riviera Civic Association to get involved in the design, “I never felt someone reach out from the city.”
“Moving forward, you have a community looking to make a positive impact on the area east of the bridge,” Ocksman said. “We’re relying on the government to protect the rights of the neighbors.”
The procedure for looking at improvements for the east side is that the Council gives the city manager some direction to look at the possiblity, meet with the public, and the opportunity to look at a plan - constituting the beginnings of the concept of building a program,” Whelchel said. Ú