The Coastal Star

Briny Breezes: Council aims to simplify building permit process

By Dan Moffett

Problems with building permit processing continue to beleaguer Briny Breezes officials.
Town Manager Dale Sugerman told council members that recent permitting errors by C.A.P. Government Inc., the outside contractor that handles building inspections and plan reviews in Briny, prompted him to meet with the company’s president last month to discuss corrective action.
Sugerman said he gave Carlos Penin at least 11 examples of instances in which C.A.P. made processing mistakes that caused permits to be incorrectly approved, erroneously filed or lost in the electronic system.
“Sometimes C.A.P. was just not paying attention,” Sugerman said. He told the council that he’s concerned the company might have “taken on too much business” and might not have the resources available to give Briny the efficient service it wants.
Sugerman said if C.A.P.’s performance doesn’t improve, the council might have to consider hiring another firm.
Even when the system works as intended, homeowners have complained for months that obtaining permits is unnecessarily complicated and too confusing.
Alderwoman Kathy Gross, during the May 23 council meeting, proposed restructuring the town’s permitting procedures.
“The process is convoluted as it starts with the corporation, then it goes to the town clerk, and sometimes it goes back and forth several times,” Gross said. “Then the town clerk has to deal with C.A.P.”
Gross proposes allowing the corporation to deal directly with building contractors and Briny’s building official at the beginning instead of having applicants come first to Town Hall and the clerk. Unlike the corporate office, which is open daily, the town’s office is open only three days a week, which further restricts the process. The change would fix that.
“It puts the process in one location and it saves money for the town by eliminating excess work on the town clerk,” Gross said.
Donna Coates, the corporation’s general manager, said she was open to considering the change and taking on the added workload. Sugerman said he liked the idea. Town Attorney Keith Davis said the plan could be shaped to satisfy statutory requirements.
The council agreed to study Gross’ proposal and bring it up for discussion at the next town meeting on June 27. “We’ve got some homework to do,” Sugerman said.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a resolution of concern that expresses the town’s complaints about the Gulf Stream Views townhouse project next door in the County Pocket.
The resolution lists four problems:
• Excessive noise, dust and vibration from the ongoing construction project.
• Heavy construction equipment clogging the town’s streets.
• The increased traffic that the project will generate in the area once completed.
• Drainage and flooding problems that could result from losing the roughly 2-acre property as a drain field for surrounding neighborhoods.
The resolution is aimed at Palm Beach County officials, in particular District 4 Commissioner Robert Weinroth, who represents Briny Breezes.

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