12420252452?profile=RESIZE_710xNew limits could prevent large homes like this one, which looms over its neighbor’s pool and patio. Photo provided

By Anne Geggis

New home construction east of the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach will face new limitations for how much square footage can be built based on lot size — and more regulations may be on the way.

The City Commission unanimously approved new rules March 5 in response to resident complaints about a new style of home emerging on the barrier island. Residents criticized the oversized, office-like structures springing up as home sales lead to tear-downs, with the much bigger replacements looming over older homes in neighborhoods.

“We moved here because of the charm and character of Delray Beach, the Village by the Sea,” said Bob Schneider, one of the coastal residents who appeared before the commission. “We didn’t want to move into an office area.”

The new adopted rule means, for example, that a lot of 10,000 square feet could have a maximum of 6,500 square feet built on it — a cut of 45% from the previous 12,000-square-foot maximum that could have been built under air conditioning on the same lot.

Members of the Beach Property Owners Association said the guidelines are the result of working with the city’s planning department for three years. Some of them spoke and showed examples of homes that don’t exactly fit in.

“The bulk of this structure just looms large, as you can see, over the privacy of the neighbor’s rear terrace,” said Ned Wehler, flashing a photo that one might think showed the large building’s pool.

These homes, he said, are overgrown.

“One might ask, what is the harm?” Wehler continued. “The harm is a profound loss of privacy and destruction of neighborhood charm. Neighbors lose their pride of ownership and their sense of community as their homes are dwarfed by three stories flush with vertical walls built right next door, 7½ feet away.”

Anthea Gianniotes, director of the city’s development services, said that the staff was concerned that the points system used as a guideline for home-building still allows enough leeway that straight walls could still go several stories high. Ideally, homes with more than one story would have second and third floors that step back from the first-floor base.

“They might just back the whole building up (from the property line) so you’re still getting that sheer wall which may not be as aesthetically pleasing to the eye,” she said.

To stop that, the city might propose another tweak to the design code, Gianniotes said.

Hal Stern, the BPOA president and a resident of Seasage Drive, said he was glad the commission acted: “It’s a good start.”

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