The Coastal Star

County Pocket: Zoning board unanimously OKs swimming pools for townhouse project

By Dan Moffett

The Palm Beach County Zoning Commission unanimously approved a variance request for the developer of the Gulf Stream Views townhouse project on July 3, allowing the construction of 14 small swimming pools on the property.
The approval came over the objections of two dozen residents of Briny Breezes and the County Pocket who attended the hearing — and also the objections of the commission’s own staff.
County planners and plan reviewers had recommended that the request from New Jersey-based NR Living be denied, asserting that the developer failed to satisfy several criteria necessary for allowing the exception.
Rachel Streitfeld, a Miami-Dade County lawyer who represents the residents, said they are considering appealing the decision.
“We may want to take it to the County Commission,” Streitfeld said. “We have other options we want to think about as well.”
The zoning board’s ruling allows the installation of 7-foot-by-14-foot plunge pools behind each of the development’s 14 units, seven along Briny Breezes Boulevard and seven along Seaview Avenue. County code calls for a 28-foot setback between swimming pools and the street, but the zoning commissioners approved a variance that allows a setback of about 17 feet. Developers say they need the swimming pools to attract buyers for the units.
County planners had opposed the exception, saying essentially that the pools were an amenity, not a necessary part of the plan, and not having them wouldn’t create a hardship for NR Living.
Commission Chairman Sheri Scarborough and Commissioner Robert Currie disagreed, arguing that because the county months ago required a central roadway into the project, the developer was left with nowhere else to put the pools. Denying them now would
present a hardship for the developer, the commissioners said.
“There is no need or hardship requirement met for adding 14 pools,” Kristine de Haseth, executive director of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, told the commission. “There’s no reason for adding this to the project this late in the game.”
Residents complained about flooding problems since late last year when dozens of trucks of fill were hauled into the 2-acre site to raise the grade to 16 feet. But commissioners dismissed those complaints, saying the issue before them was the swimming pools — not drainage problems or runoff from the site.
“This is not a hardship for developers. The hardship that is happening is to neighboring residents who now are experiencing flooding,” said Liz Loper, who lives on Winthrop Lane in the Pocket. “Now I have to place sandbags at my front door when it rains.”

Said Streitfeld: “With the fill, they’ve created a fortress. And these folks are about to become the moat.”

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Comment by Sarah Gordon on July 4, 2019 at 8:54pm

I watched the hearing on the local government television channel. I don't know how anyone could sit there and hear what the community had to say and then go ahead and approve the variance. Fill put in without permits. Damage to adjacent properties. It is shameful. I read the things the developer presented about our community, and the comments showed a remarkable misunderstanding of who we are,  from our history to the future we actually want. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that sixteen feet of fill dirt (not permitted, filled with who knows what) is not a good idea.  The developer applying to become a little section that is 'not a flood zone', and that's not a big deal?  

Comment by Marie Chapman on July 4, 2019 at 4:24pm
Hobart - Briny didn't create these problems- the topography of the land caused them. However, the County is not doing IT'S job, and is allowing this to all happen. It has nothing to do with NIMBY, or Affluent anything - it has to do with new construction & code being plugged in on top of homes that have been here for nearly a century with no consideration for their circumstances (Codes have changed just a bit since 1935). It has EVERYTHING to do with PBC bending over for every whim of a developer. It doesn't take an engineer to see building the ground up with fill SIXTEEN feet high might just cause some problems. You may want to check the facts before you put your foot in your mouth... Being from Albany, you may not be use to how crooked and manipulative developers can - and tend to be - down here.
Comment by Hobart Gapp on July 4, 2019 at 3:16pm

It’s comforting to know that NIMBY is alive and well in PB County.  The super high density of that trailer park is what caused all these issues to begin with.  Trailers are packed in their like sardines.  What are the chances that’s causing the runoff problems, not to mention associated issues with effluent and such.   

Pull the ladder up after you get on and don’t let anyone else on board.  

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