7960918492?profile=originalAt issue is the proposed structure atop the three-story duplex. Rendering provided

By Jane Smith

Some barrier island residents are hoping the Delray Beach City Commission will tighten the rules to allow only mechanical devices on the roofs of single-family homes and duplexes in residential multifamily districts.
That way, the maximum height of structures in those districts would be 35 feet with a 6-foot parapet on the roof.
The commission will decide Jan. 16 whether to review the issue.
For single-family homes and duplexes, this translates into three stories and another 6 feet for a parapet on the roof. Behind the parapet wall, there could be an elevator shaft, an air handler and other mechanicals.
But not a grill or a wet bar, said Debbie Lynott of Miramar Drive during the Dec. 11 meeting of the Site Plan Review and Appearance Board. She lives next door to a duplex that is under construction at 100 Gleason St. in a residential multifamily zoning district that begins just south of Atlantic Avenue and extends a half mile south to Bucida Road.
“This is the first time (an appurtenance) is being built on a single-family home or a duplex,” she said. “It looks out of character for the city.”
The issue came up because the city stopped construction of the Gleason Street duplex and forced the architect to seek approval from a city advisory board for its appurtenance — a structure that sits on the roof and is not considered living space. According to the city’s rules, these can exceed height limitations when specifically approved by the Site Plan Review and Appearance Board.
The owners of the duplex, retired podiatrist John DeLeonibus and his wife, Sally, demolished a one-story duplex in March and are replacing it with a three-story duplex, designed by architect Richard Jones. The couple will live in one half. Their son, Jones said, will live on the other side.
The DeLeonibus couple had received a city building permit in July to proceed with a 35-foot-high duplex with a 230-square-foot, 12-foot-tall roof structure that shields the elevator shaft, air-conditioner mechanicals and a grill and a wet bar.
But the city’s newest development services director, Anthea Gianniotes, said the duplex needed city board approval because of the appurtenances. Most duplexes and single-family homes don’t require this approval because they lack this rooftop structure.
At SPRAB’s Nov. 20 meeting, five members directed the architect to reduce the size of the rooftop appurtenance. (Two board members were absent.)
Jones made these changes: reduced the height by 2 feet, moved the air-conditioner mechanicals to the third floor, increased the western setback by 4.25 feet and reduced the area from 230 square feet to 195 square feet.
The elevator shaft, a grill and a wet bar remained.
At the board’s December meeting, when the reduced appurtenance was reviewed, Jones said he was back because of “confusion in the city’s zoning code.”
One- or two-unit residential structures don’t need board approval and can go directly to the building permit stage, Jones said.
“One sentence in the code, a needle in the haystack that Anthea found, says turn left and we went right,” Jones said.
“The neighbors are upset because their ocean views will be blocked by my developed property,” John DeLeonibus said at the December meeting. “They all want to be the last man in paradise.”
He said 47 other appurtenances have been approved by the board.
But the property owner did not say they were all on multifamily buildings. Jones later said they were all his designs, representing six or seven projects.
Veteran residential real estate broker Peg Delp also spoke in favor of approval.
“The community has changed from one where people would need a beach cottage for a month or two to one with more year-round residents,” she said. “Homeowners have certain amenities they want in their homes. … They want rooftop decks and need to have access to them.’’
But the duplex neighbors disagree.
Lynott said she was in favor of only the 6-foot-high parapet on the roof.
“The modifications are excessive, unnecessary and don’t fit in with the character of the neighborhood,” said Lauren Lynch, who lives just south of the duplex.
“If approved, it would open the doors for applications of greater height and permanently change the character of our neighborhood.”
Neighbor Herb Sidel, also living south of the duplex, said, “If we don’t have codes, we have anything-can-go and that’s what is happening here.”
Even so, a majority of the approval board members sided with Jones, voting 5-2 to recommend approval to the City Commission.
“I’m sympathetic with the neighbors who want to keep the character,” board member Todd L’Herrou said when voting for approval. “The role of SPRAB is to approve the things that keep the town moving forward.” Ú

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