The residents of Deerfield Beach do NOT want the beach area to be over-developed. They do not want buildings built high and wide on the beach. They know that the traffic and parking problems at the beach are already bad due to poor planning, and restaurants without on-site parking. They know if the current building codes which mandate larger building setbacks the higher the building goes are eliminated, and the developers are allowed their way, we will be signing the death knell of the lovely gem of a beach that we have.Far from stifling development, the current codes carefully control development, as witness the new hotel on the beach road which is built to code. The builder made sure the building fit the area, had the required parking, and would be an attractive addition to the beach. He didn’t come whining to the commission that he couldn’t make enough profit so they should let him build bigger.
Rumor has it that Mayor Jean Robb has been lobbied by a disgruntled business owner on the beach who overpaid for a corner property. Her plans for the property were approved by the city, but she didn’t go ahead with them (I heard she couldn’t get financing). She is now complaining that the building codes that restrict how high and wide a property can be built stifle development (her profit) in the beach area; the codes were in place when she bought the property.
Well, here’s a news flash. Years ago when the residents of Deerfield Beach, who have NEVER wanted to be Boca Raton, saw the completed Tiara East tower they quickly petitioned the city commission to enact codes which would limit Deerfield Beach from becoming a condo canyon, which the commission did!The people wanted Deerfield to remain a family friendly, low rise village type of town; Tiara East made them realize what developers would do if they were not checked.
Everyone was happy with the new codes for years until the year 2000 when a developer bought some ocean front property and wanted to maximize his profit.I don’t know what shenanigans took place to convince those commissioners that they should approve Ocean Plaza with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of around 1.6, despite the Land Development Code being .8. I suspect hanky-panky, as why else would a sane person vote to allow such lot coverage, for a developer, on our beach front?
A resident in the next condo sued the City because of the violation of the FAR. The Commission, in reaction to the lawsuit, (knowing they would lose) removed the FAR from city codes for residential, multifamily buildings so that the Ocean Plaza, on Ocean Way could be constructed. This is the code which governed how high and wide the building could be; the very code that was put in place to guard against this kind of overdevelopment. That is why the structure is so huge and has almost no setbacks.
Horrified by the betrayal of their elected representatives, the OSOB Committee, to make sure that another “Ocean Plaza” type building couldn’t further ruin the beach area, collected signatures and by petition placed a referendum on the ballot which restored the eliminated building codes and placed them in the charter which, in order to be changed, must go to the voters.
Now we have Mayor Robb suggesting going against the wishes of the 75% of the voters who OVERWHELMINGLY voted YES to restore the code restrictions on overdevelopment. She wants to eliminate the building codes again, and give free rein to development. She is trying to emulate the former commission and stick it to the residents.
This seems to be political pandering of the worst sort. Robb has never before been in favor of development on the beach. But maybe now that she is old and her kids are gone and not using the beach she doesn’t care what happens to the rest of us.She had support for her campaign from some people who want the wrong thing for Deerfield; she welcomed the support as she wanted to be elected so very badly.
This bid to eliminate the code referendum may well be her payback to those who supported her to further their greedy interests; I can think of nothing else that would explain her behavior.Jean’s whole identity seems to be wrapped up in “I was the mayor”, even her email name, for over 20 years, has been “mamamayor”. So it looks as if becoming mayor again was the supreme ego trip. Becoming mayor was her aim, but BEING mayor is turning out to be too much for her. Her confusion on the dais, her abrasiveness, rudeness, sarcastic jokes and asides, interruptions, and her inability to look realistically at proposals and do the right thing for the residents of the city show she is not up to the job.
I have no question in my mind that the other commissioners will not entertain her foolish notions. But the fact that she proposes these absurdities worries me a lot.We need to keep an eye on her and the agenda items to make sure our interests are being watched out for. We need to make sure the commissioners do the job they were elected to do: making the quality of life of the residents the paramount issue.