11200907289?profile=RESIZE_400xLEFT: The 1979 Coastal Construction Control Line, shown in yellow, is farther east than the 1997 line, shown in purple. Both are east of State Road A1A. Map provided by Engenuity Group Inc. and Town of Ocean Ridge

By Larry Barszewski

A 2020 Ocean Ridge ordinance that got little notice at the time it was approved has become a major controversy for oceanfront property owners, who say they were given no warning about the changes in regulations it enacted, which they say have infringed on their property rights.

Town commissioners passed the ordinance giving the town some say on property construction east of the 1997 Coastal Construction Control Line. The state requires property owners to get a permit from its Department of Environmental Protection for any construction projects seaward of that line, but the ordinance required that any such work would also have to receive a permit from the town.

The ordinance also said no construction would be allowed east of an earlier, 1979 Coastal Construction Control Line, which is closer to the water than the 1997 line. On properties such as those between Anna and Corrine streets, where existing houses extend east of the 1979 control line, construction is only permitted within the structure’s existing footprint or with a variance from the town.

Other oceanfront homeowners have buildings sitting between the 1997 line and the 1979 line. Besides stating the requirement of a town permit for any construction, the ordinance also affected how big a rebuilt home or a home with an addition could be.

Previously, the amount of square footage was determined by the size of the property going out to the mean high-water line, which is to the east of the 1979 control line. The 2020 ordinance allows property owners to go only as far as the 1979 line when calculating allowable square footage.

Critics say they wouldn’t even be able to rebuild to the same size under the ordinance, let alone add space.

“Beach owners have been targeted,” said Merrilee Lundquist, whose home lies between the two control lines. “I think this ordinance has done more to destroy our net worth than the stock market ever had.”

Lundquist and other property owners requested the commission repeal the ordinance at its May 1 meeting, but commissioners decided more study was needed about the ramifications of any change. In addition, any change to a town ordinance would require two officially noticed readings before the commission.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Commissioner Ken Kaleel said of the request. “You just can’t repeal something that you don’t know what the effect of that repeal is going to be.”

Town Attorney Christy Goddeau was instructed to report at the commission’s June meeting about the potential consequences of a repeal or smaller changes to the ordinance, as well as other factors the commission might need to consider.

Brett Berish told commissioners the ordinance is affecting his plans to add space to better accommodate his family of six children.

“All of us on the water, our property size and value have been affected,” said his wife, Alana Berish. The couple bought their home at 6275 N. Ocean Blvd. in 2021 after the ordinance was passed, but said no one told them about the implications of the changes.

“No one knew. Even now, no one truly understands,” Alana Berish said.

 

 

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  • In response too, Ex commissioner Mr Wiescholek's comments.  I have found them to be more fiction then fact.

    First of all, the facts:
    1- Oceanfront property lines are at the mean high water mark, per the Palm Beach Property Appraiser, not into the ocean, as you wrongly state. This entire area is taxed. Would you suggest reducing oceanfront property taxes to reflect the now down-zoned usable lot size?
    2- One could never build “into the sand,” as the DEP and Ocean Ridge do not (and did not prior to the passing of this flawed ordinance) allow building east of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL).
    3- Both the 1979 CCCL and the 1997 CCCL are not “through the dune.” They are west of the dune throughout Ocean Ridge.
    4- The Berishes can not build north or south as you wrongly suggest. They can not do anything because the irresponsible and misunderstood ordinance took away a significant portion of their property. As a result, any addition (or enclosure of outdoor living space, which is their intention) whatsoever would exceed their allowed Floor Area Ratio (because of their down-zoned usable land area). And for the record, their home is 12,000sf, not 20,000 as you smugly state.
     
    Your narcissistic arrogance and disrespect (get a new stockbroker??) are tiring.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Stella Kolb
  • Ocean Ridge History

    The Boynton Beach Hotel was built on the land south of Ocean Avenue in the late1800's.

    There was a beautiful beach then and still exists today.

    Several of the hotel guest cottages are still occupied in our town

  • For all this talk about the dune, our former commissioner adds no environmental perspective on the differences, if any, in protection between the dune and seawalls. Of course, I would advocate for protecting the dune because it's more attractive, but to say that we should be thankful as a town for the dune as a protective barrier assumes too much. We should be thankful for whatever protections we get, including those seawalls constructed by oceanfront homeowners. If seawalls are for whatever reason less stabilizing or protective than the dune, feel free to correct me, but Manalapan seems to be doing just fine. Encouraging and supporting resilient building practices should be this Town's goal, but that requires community participation. Burdensome and forced regulation is bound to create backlash, which everyone should have seen coming from a mile away. 

  • The sea level rise is projected at 3ft over the next 50 years. At the currently seen accelerated glacier melt in both the north and south poles that 50 years is rather hopeful, most likely that day will be coming sooner.
    To give your readers a visual guide, picture standing at high-tide at the waters edge on the beach and look at your bellybutton. Draw an imaginary horizontal line and picture everything under that line will be under water by no later than 2070. That means most of Ocean Ridge will be under water.
    While Mrs. Berish may not understand the CCL line, looking at where the waters edge is going to be for her young children when they are 50 years old should be a wakeup call.
    The reason we used the CCL line as a guide had several reasons. We needed a uniform point from where the easters setback lines are drawn to prevent the ocean front estate homes to be built into the ocean. There are properties who’s property appraisers lines stretch way into the ocean. With the regular 25ft setbacks they would have been able to build into the sand, as some of the neighbors there have managed to do where seawalls have been bumped out way past the dune.
    Building on the dune, where the CCL line is located, is irresponsible. It destabilizes the dune and that dune is the only safe line against tidal waves from the ocean during hurricanes. Our neighbors, the Berish’s where not yet living in Ocean Ridge during the heavy winter storms in 2020/21 when a good 10ft portion of the dune was washed out just a few blocks south prompting the emergency build of the seawall along the houses between Edith (two houses south of the Berish’s property) and southwards to Corine.
    In fact, this legislation was passed to protect all the houses behind the dune/oceanfront properties. And this is where we as a community have to be able to clearly define where “property rights” do NOT trump those of the neighbors around that property.
    And please….”Nobody told me..” is just about the worst excuse you can find for not doing your due diligence. Side setbacks were changed in the 60s/70s from 10ft to 15ft should I complain that “nobody told me” that I now cannot build a bigger house for my growing family? The Berish’s have a 20,000sf oceanfront property. Plenty of an addition towards the west, just not to the east where that construction would impact the dune and therefore everybody else in Ocean Ridge.
    As for Mrs. Lundquist’s claim of loss in value. “I think this ordinance has done more to destroy our net worth than the stock market ever had.” Mrs. Lundquest, your property value has increased 16% between 2021 (when the legislation was passed) and 2022. Maybe you need to change your stock broker to one that can do basic math!

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