Ocean Ridge: News briefs

Coastal construction rule changes approved — The Town Commission gave final approval Nov. 6 to a pair of ordinances that relax some restrictions the town placed on coastal construction in 2020, eliminating the need for homeowners to get a variance in many situations where construction only involves changes to non-living spaces, such as patios and pools.

It also changed the status of older homes on Old Ocean Boulevard between Anna and Corrine streets built east of the 1979 Coastal Construction Control Line, moving them from “non-conforming” to “conforming” structures. That change will make it easier for homeowners there to rebuild.

Minimum flood elevations levels in limbo— The town can’t enforce the preliminary FEMA maps it adopted in 2019 because they won’t be official until after Palm Beach County’s ongoing litigation over the maps is concluded. The state preempted local governments from using preliminary FEMA maps for any rules for permitting.

Commissioners are concerned some property owners in a high hazard flood zone could build to a lower height than would be allowed under the FEMA maps, putting their homes at greater risk of flooding. Commissioners asked to have the town send notices to affected property owners seeking to build, warning them of potential consequences of building lower than the levels in the contested maps.

Limit sought on bridge openings — Vice Mayor Steve Coz, who lives near the Woolbright Road bridge, wants to see limits on how often the bridge opens and has asked Town Manager Lynne Ladner to bring up the issue with the county. Although the drawbridge opens “on demand” and timed openings — such as on the hour and half-hour — aren’t permitted, Coz said the county bridge tenders should make sure at least 15 minutes pass between openings.

— Larry Barszewski

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