The Coastal Star

Gulf Stream: Residents getting restless over lack of progress on new house

After nearly three years of construction, there has been a recent increase in the number of workers parking their vehicles outside this home on Polo Drive. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Steve Plunkett

Town Commissioner Paul Lyons already knows what he’ll be asked when Gulf Stream’s seasonal residents start to return next month.

“The first question’s going to be underground, the second’s going to be: What’s going on with that house?” Lyons said, referring to almost three years of construction at 3140 Polo Drive.

People who were hoping the end is near will not be happy with either answer.

James and Jennifer Cacioppo bought three lots on Polo Drive, had them replatted as two lots and won commission approval to demolish an existing house in July 2015. Seaside Builders LLC filed its notice of commencement of construction on Nov. 10, 2015.

Work has now taken so long the owners will have to repaint the outside of the 8,560-square-foot structure and clean the roof to get approval to move in, Town Manager Greg Dunham said at the commission’s Aug. 10 meeting.

Lyons said he fields “a lot of complaints” about the house and Commissioner Joan Orthwein said she does too.

“They keep saying, ‘Isn’t there something you can do?’ ” Orthwein said. “It’s unfortunate that they won’t get it done. … The people that own the house — they keep changing their minds, from what I gather, or something along those lines.”

Neighbor Bob Burns, who walks by regularly with his dog, gave an update from the audience.

“It seems like there’s three or four cars there where there used to be maybe one. So in the last 10 days or so I would say that there’s been — I won’t say significant but there’s been a slight improvement at least in the number of people that are there trying to do something,” Burns said. “I haven’t seen much, except it now has shutters, it now has outside lights, but as far as anything else … it doesn’t look like there’s any more work been done in the last week than there’s been in the last two months.”

Vice Mayor Thomas Stanley said the rule of thumb is 24 months for a 10,000-square-foot house. “They’re probably a little over that,” he said.

Staff attorney Trey Nazzaro said even if the town adopted an ordinance like Palm Beach’s spelling out time constraints for builders, it would not affect this project. “Based on the square foot calculations, this house is about within the time it would normally take,” Nazzaro said.

Meanwhile, the town was installing underground piping in an easement on the southern edge of the Cacioppos’ property to drain often-flooded Polo Drive into the Intracoastal. Dunham expected that project to end before Labor Day.

Commissioners asked him to contact the Cacioppos when the project was finished to see if they would put in landscaping and take down the chain-link fence while work on their house continues.

On the underground project, Wilco Electric still had a few homes to convert from overhead power, Dunham told commissioners. Comcast has already begun to connect its fiber-optic lines, then AT&T will come to put telephone lines into the underground conduit.

If they work one after the other, “it would probably be a year” before they finish, Dunham said. He said he would meet with the companies in hopes of getting them to work simultaneously on different streets.

“We’ll continue to move forward on it, and it will be done at some point,” Mayor Scott Morgan said.

In other business, commissioners on first reading approved an ordinance eliminating references to items in the town’s building design rules categorized as “discouraged” and declaring them “prohibited.” A proposal to paint the garage doors on a white house black prompted the change.

Also, Dunham withdrew his suggestion that Gulf Stream pay part of the health insurance premiums for the families of town employees. He said he would investigate compensation packages and bring the idea back next summer. 

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