By Rich Pollack

The owner of one of the few vacant parcels on the Intracoastal Waterway in Highland Beach is receiving slightly more than $600,000 after a judge ruled Palm Beach County installed a breakwater without the owner’s consent, and a jury last month awarded damages.

Miami-based Golden City Highland Beach LLC, owner of a 7.35-acre parcel near the middle of town, is also seeking more than $400,000 in attorney’s fees incurred during the multiyear battle to have the county remove the stone breakwater.

In court documents, Golden City says that the breakwater — installed in an effort to reduce erosion and other damage, and to create a wildlife habitat — impeded its efforts to build multi-family units on the parcel, just south of the Toscana condominiums.

The developer filed a lawsuit in 2018 and three years later a judge agreed that the county was remiss in not getting property owner approval to install the breakwater. A jury was convened and in June awarded $425,700 to Golden City.

In addition, Golden City will receive just shy of $180,000 in interest that has accrued from August 2015, when the breakwater was installed, until June of this year.

The developer in 2019 filed a request with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a 38-residence multi-family community on the property and proposed removing three acres of mangroves in exchange for preserving nine acres of mangroves in Ocean Ridge, about eight miles north.

That plan met with resistance from town leaders, who said at the time that the mitigated property is not in Highland Beach. Town leaders also pointed out that even if the development plan was approved by state and federal agencies, the developer would still need to comply with local codes and ordinances.

A search of town records shows no permit requests have been filed for development or work on the property since 2019.

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