By Steve Plunkett
Town officials are poised to create time limits between 16 and 30 months on future new construction in Gulf Stream.
The new rules, which town commissioners will consider on final reading in March, come after unhappiness at the slow progress at 3140 Polo Drive, an 8,560-square-foot house that passed the three-year mark of building activity in February.
The pending ordinance notes that “lingering construction projects have a negative impact on the health, safety and welfare of town residents.”
The clock will start when a building permit is issued, and the allowable time is based on square footage. Trey Nazzaro, Gulf Stream’s staff attorney, looked at all home construction in town for the past eight years and at Palm Beach’s rules to develop the sliding scale.
Projects up to 3,999 square feet must finish in 16 months; those 6,000 to 10,000 square feet will get 24 months. Anything larger will get 30 months.
“In all the projects dating back to 2011 only one dragged on significantly longer than the proposed schedule. There were, I think, three or four that were one month over,” Nazzaro said.
Extra time can be granted by the Town Commission “for good cause.” Commissioners have the option to impose a fee for additional days, perhaps 10 cents a square foot, Nazzaro said.
Commissioner Paul Lyons wanted to make sure homeowners and contractors received a schedule of fees. “A lot of people get instructions more clearly if they understand the consequences of failure,” he said.
Commissioners also had a lively discussion on a separate proposal to limit time between demolition of a house and the commencement of rebuilding. Nazzaro suggested 30 days, but Vice Mayor Tom Stanley said 90 days was more realistic.
And Commissioner Joan Orthwein said it might be time to shorten the winter ban on construction from six months to five.
Commissioners will review a revised proposal in March.
In other business on Feb. 8:
• Police Chief Edward Allen introduced the town’s newest police officer, Allen O’Neal, who comes to Gulf Stream after five years in Manalapan and 26 years in Riviera Beach.
“We look forward to seeing you around town,” Mayor Scott Morgan said. “It’s a small town and we get to know our police officers.”
• Commissioners agreed to reduce a $200,000 lien on a house at 2900 Avenue Au Soleil to $20,000. The lien started accruing in November 2006 for code violations; property owner Anthony Turner died the following August. His estate, which disputed the validity of the lien, was unable to sell the property with the $200,000 cloud over it, commissioners were told.
As part of the settlement, the estate promised to make the property comply with code within six months.