The Coastal Star

Briny Breezes/County Pocket: County orders engineering review of townhouse project

By Dan Moffett

It could be weeks until Palm Beach County building officials determine the fate of the Gulf Stream Views project between Briny Breezes and the County Pocket.

In November, inspectors shut down work on developer NL Living’s plan to build 14 luxury townhouses after expressing concerns about stormwater runoff.

Briny Breezes Town Manager Dale Sugerman says now the county has taken the extraordinary step of ordering an independent engineering analysis — a “peer review” — to ensure the project won’t cause drainage problems for adjacent properties.

“County staff has no idea how long that will take to obtain a complete peer review report,” Sugerman told the Town Council at its Jan. 24 meeting.

The county is soliciting proposals from qualified engineering firms and is required to have three bidders before making a selection. As of Jan. 24, only two firms had applied, the manager said.

Contractors for the New Jersey-based developer have hauled in dozens of truckloads of fill dirt to level out the elevation on the 2-acre lot to about 7 feet. Neighboring residents worry that rainwater and storm surge will have nowhere to run but onto their yards. The lot has been vacant for decades and served as a drain field for runoff from Briny and the Pocket.

Sugerman said the results of the engineering review will “help the county determine whether the fill that’s on the site can stay.”

NL Living vice president Glenn La Mattina has said he hopes to have the project completed by the end of the year. But the delay has cast that target in doubt.

In other business:

• The council hopes to name a new mayor during its Feb. 28 meeting, filling the vacancy left by Roger Bennett’s death on Jan. 12.

Applicants should submit letters of interest and voter registration verification to the town clerk. The next mayor will serve the three weeks remaining on Bennett’s unexpired term and then a full one-year term.

“Roger was a Brinyite through and through,” said council President Sue Thaler. “He stopped in to Town Hall every day to ask what he could do to help. … We’re all going to miss him so much.”

The council has other positions to fill or reappoint at the February meeting: town clerk, town clerk pro tem, deputy bookkeeper and seven members of the Planning and Zoning Board.

• The council has scheduled a workshop on building permit issues for 2 p.m. Feb. 14 in Briny’s community center.

Representatives of C.A.P. Government Inc., the town’s inspection and plan review contractor, will be on hand to answer residents’ questions. 

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