A new zoning district, allowing Boynton Beach to set height restrictions on mixed-use downtown buildings without angering current developers, has been approved by the City Commission.
The zoning code amendment will exempt any existing or in-progress development from having to comply with the new restrictions limiting new mixed-use projects to 85 feet in height.
Amanda Radigan, the city’s principal planner, has told the commissioners that such a zoning change would allow the city to limit building height without risking lawsuits.
Commissioners have twice discussed imposing restrictions but shied away from a vote because they feared legal repercussions.
Commissioner Thomas Turkin introduced the idea of height restrictions in May, saying lower buildings would make the city more inviting. He cited Delray Beach’s less imposing buildings as an example of good planning.
Current Boynton Beach height limits on the two mixed-use zones in the downtown core are 100 and 150 feet.
Residents have said that in recent years the city has become taller and denser at an unsustainable pace.
Residents at the Jan. 3 commission meeting applauded the move to lower building height and density, but said it did not go far enough.
“We had asked for a four-story maximum,” said resident Susan Oyer, meaning 48 feet. “I’m incredibly disappointed.”
The commissioners heard from two attorneys who warned that taking away developers’ design options could result in very expensive lawsuits.

— Tao Woolfe

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