Two homes at opposite ends of the town will be built after the architects involved made multiple concessions to Gulf Stream’s planning board and Town Commission to make the projects fit better into their neighborhoods.
In an unusual annexation to be finalized this month, the house at 996 Pelican Lane, on Gulf Stream’s southern border, will add a sliver of land roughly 7 feet deep and 100 feet wide to the town’s limits. Town officials had planned to annex the parcel at the commission’s Nov. 10 meeting, but postponed the decision to Dec. 9 so the vote could be properly advertised.
Why the sliver was never incorporated into Gulf Stream or Delray Beach could not be determined, said Cristofer Bennardo, the attorney representing the owners.
“So, for all intents and purposes, we have this small parcel of land … that is in essence a lost parcel,” he said.
The other house will be built at 2775 Avenue Au Soleil. The property used to have a home that was such an eyesore that the Place Au Soleil homeowners association paid to plant a clusia hedge along its western edge so it would not be the first thing people entering the neighborhood saw.
In 2019, town commissioners reduced code enforcement liens that had prevented the heirs of the abandoned house from selling it. Commissioners hoped a new owner would make it more presentable. After a deal for a neighbor to buy it and expand his residence fell through, Chet Snavely, president of the homeowner group, bought the property for $400,000, demolished the house, planted sod and installed sprinklers.
He sold the vacant parcel in March for $890,000, county property records show.
Representatives of new owner Benedetto DiCicco made four trips to the Architectural Review and Planning Board and appeared twice before the Town Commission to get permission to build a 6,970-square-foot Colonial West Indies home.
The ARPB said no to a proposed garage with three vehicle doors facing the street, which is no longer permitted by town code. It recommended approving the plan after the third door was moved to the rear of the garage and after questioning — but leaving in — a request for a special exception for 300 square feet of covered, unenclosed floor area around the backyard pool.
Town commissioners were more critical and sought numerous changes to make the home less of what architect Shane Ames called a “modern interpretation” of Colonial West Indies style. Ames withdrew the request for the extra covered area by the pool and added corbels under the eaves, and blue shutters. He also included a predominantly wood front door with glass instead of a predominantly glass door with a metal frame, as well as garage doors matching the wood door color, more traditional exterior lights, a gray slate roof instead of brown, two windows with shutters instead of a large picture window and no shutters on the front, and two windows with shutters instead of three tall vertical windows at the rear.
He previously added bronze windows, which the ARPB rejected. The architect and owner agreed to swap out white frames for the bronze, and the planning board scheduled a special meeting on Nov. 1 to give its blessing.
The Pelican Lane home faced a similar gauntlet of scrutiny. New owners Joseph and Laura Pehota wanted to build a 3,698-square-foot, two-story Anglo-Caribbean style house but discovered that the back 8 feet of their lot was a separate, unincorporated parcel from their home site.
A previous owner had built a sea wall in line with the neighbor’s sea wall even though legally the lot line was 8 feet closer to the house. That meant a proposed swimming pool would have to be farther from the water, limiting the size of the new house.
Bennardo asked town commissioners to grant variances so the pool could be built as though the two parcels were joined while he investigated the requirements for annexation, but commissioners insisted that the property be annexed before a site plan could be approved.
Then there was the design of the house, which architect Richard Brummer called Anglo-Caribbean but town officials considered “contemporary” and “modern.”
Over the course of three architectural review meetings and four commission meetings starting in June, Brummer increased the slope of the roof and added shutters, window muntins to divide the glass area, a front door with wood, and detail to the space over the garage doors. He also decreased the amount of glass on the rear façade and replaced a glass rail balcony with a Chippendale and picket rail.
Commissioners approved a demolition permit outright on Nov. 10 so the Pehotas could begin construction, but made the land clearing application, as well as a special exception request for 96 square feet of covered, unenclosed floor area for a rear porch and front entry, and the site plan approvals contingent on their December vote to annex the strip of land.
Commissioners, ARPB members and town staff were pleased to have defended the recently enacted prohibition of home projects that appear massive, are dissimilar to nearby residences and do not fit comfortably on their lots. In both cases the commission sent the projects back to the review board with their comments after the ARPB had first signed off.
“I thought it worked out very well,” Mayor Scott Morgan said. “It took a little while, but getting the ARPB on the same page as the commission I thought was as important as getting those two homes right.”
No election required
Five familiar faces will return to the Town Commission for the next three years.
“All the sitting commissioners filed to run again and went unopposed, so Gulf Stream will not have to have an election in March,” Town Clerk Renee Basel said.
It was the first election cycle for incumbent Thom Smith, who was elevated to the commission in April from his post on the town’s Architectural Review and Planning Board after Commissioner Donna White resigned.
Also gaining new terms are Morgan, Vice Mayor Tom Stanley and Commissioners Paul Lyons and Joan Orthwein.Ú