By Margie Plunkett
Ocean Ridge has started investigating the costs and concepts of creating a commercial zone at the town’s south end with an eye toward making recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Commissioners agreed that Town Manager Ken Schenck should contact planning firm Urban Design Kilday Studios, which previously did work for Ocean Ridge, to talk about potential costs to create such a commercial zone.
Former Mayor Ken Kaleel, who spoke as a member of the public at the commission’s Feb. 4 meeting, said he was at the planning and zoning meeting when the issue of a commercial zone came up. “I kind of pushed it back to the commission,” he said.
In May, commissioners sent the question of whether Ocean Ridge should abandon its 1969 ban on commercial properties to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration. At the same time, they agreed to allow the owners of 5011 N. Ocean Blvd., which is home to several commercial ventures, an extension of a year before they must convert to residential.
Orlando and Liliane Sivitilli had sued to block enforcement of the commercial ban and signed an agreement in 2003 that they would convert the property in 10 years — but wanted to extend because of the real estate slump. Their tenants include Commissioner Gail Adams Aaskov’s real estate office and The Coastal Star. Four apartments are on the second floor.
Commission may want to “talk to a couple of firms to get a rough idea what it would cost to have a land planning firm look at that entire part of town to develop some recommendations for the commission for planning and zoning to consider,” town attorney Ken Spillias said in recommending the move to commission at the February meeting.
Kaleel also pushed commissioners to get a professional planner, “because you have to define what you want to do — you set the policy,” he said. Commissioners must decide what to do about not only the 5011 property, but also the surrounding community.
A professional planner can also help commissioners determine what they want to do now and in the future. “Determine what you want to see happen in the next 10, 15, 20 years and plan forward,” Kaleel said. “Then, bring it back to planning and zoning. Let them examine those recommendations. Let them decipher what’s going on, reject it, then bring it back for whatever policy you want to make.”
If the commission were just considering keeping 5011 commercial, “you can do it,” Kaleel said. “That was my point to P&Z: Don’t pass the buck. If you want to turn it to commercial, make your decision.” Ú
— Mary Kate Leming contributed to this story