ISLAND SPA (CANOPY PALMS SITE) --
The Citizens for Responsible Growth for Riviera Beach thank the hundreds of people for their tremendous support given to protect Riviera Beach and Singer Island’s beach area from over development. We have been filling to overflowing the City Council meeting chambers in our efforts to control this ill-considered development. Your volunteer efforts and generous financial support, as well as your letters and calls, prove that we can make a big difference in shaping our future.
The Citizens for Responsible Growth was started in August 2002 by a group of local residents in response to a chance discovery that the City Council had changed the density regulations governing development of seven parcels in the Singer Island hotel district. The first of these seven parcels was the current Canopy Palms Resort. The site plan called for construction of two connected towers, 20 stories high with 390 condo-size suites and a 10-story garage looming over Ocean Drive.
Working together, we have identified many violations of city ordinances in the site plan. At our request, consideration of the site plan was tabled to allow the developer to respond to the residents’ objections and to attempt to conform to the city codes. The site plan has been brought back repeatedly for review, but disputes still exist over the developer’s compliance. The Citizens Group has been successful in persuading the developer to lower the height of the garage, which was 55 feet from the Ocean Boulevard, from 10 stories to 6 stories. We also succeeded in getting the developer correct some of the setback problems, however, questions still remain as to the ocean setback and protection of the dune line.
Every step is a struggle to save the Island. City Council members conceded that the ordinance involving the Island Spa is flawed and should be rewritten. Judge Rodgers requested the help of the citizens group to correct the ordinance. Within two weeks of this request, our CRGRB volunteers with expertise in this area responded to Judge Rodgers’ request. We submitted a revised ordinance that would reduce density and help protect the city’s beaches from over development. Three months have passed, but the City officials have not responded to the citizens’ proposed ordinance revision or to repeated offers to help.
Even after experts testified against the Island Spa project, the Planning & Zoning Board approved the plan over Jim Beattie’s dissenting vote. The plan went to City Council. At the City Council meeting on 6 January 2003, citizens from all over Riviera Beach packed the council chambers for the hearing concerning the Island Spa’s site plan. The City Staff, at your tax expense, hired a lawyer to represent them in this ‘hearing’. The residents voicing their concern were treated as if they were on trial rather than being a part of a Citizen’s review of this site plan.
What a meeting! The meeting stretched into the night, until after 12:30 a.m. It was continued to the next day for another 4-1/2 hours. Despite overwhelming public opposition to the Island Spa project and numerous questions regarding the legality of the site plan, it was pushed through the Council with the lone dissenting vote of David Schnyer. The citizens’ arguments were ignored by our City Council. The resolution was amended to require that this facility be open to the public with licensing from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Hotels Division, and a new survey. These are key points because the Island Spa is being proposed as a hotel, even though individuals will purchase the units like condominiums.
Many of these so-called “rooms’” have more than 2000 square feet of floor space including 2 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths, kitchens, dens, laundry facilities and walk-in closets. The “rooms” are larger than many private homes. The “hotel” designation by the developer is being used to maximize the number of units that can be built. The Citizens group has demonstrated that this project consists of condominiums and should be limited to 20 units per acre, rather than the 56 units per acre that that the developer has proposed. The Citizens group has shown that the City failed to give proper notice to its residents concerning this proposed change in density of development on Singer Island.
To control this disastrous building binge, our Citizens group has vigorously supported two lawsuits that effectively stopped this development. The lawsuits state that the residents were not properly notified of this zoning change, and that this ‘hotel” is really a condominium and should conform to the same density restrictions as all the other condominiums on Singer Island.
We have also received the overwhelming support from the membership of SICA in our efforts. Many SICA members are actively involved in the CRGRB group to protect Singer Island and Riviera Beach from this over development. The membership of SICA has also voted to support the CRGRB with a $5,000 contribution, however the directors of SICA have failed to comply with the the vote of the membership.
This is a long process that requires your continued financial support and volunteer efforts, but it is working. Your support makes the difference! We welcome all contributions. We have asked for $200 per household, but every dollar you can give, no matter what the amount, will go to this important cause. This is everybody’s campaign, and your dollars go directly to support the legal action and information costs. It is important that all of us take a stand. We urge you to become involved by contributing to the CRGRB legal fund and joining the letter writing campaign to keep this matter in the forefront of all the government agencies involved. It is a crucial time for all of us. The future environment of our beaches, and all of Riviera Beach, is a stake. It is up to you!
Please remember that there will be a city election on Tuesday, 11 March 2003 for the positions of Mayor and three City Council persons. All the residents of Riviera Beach can vote on all of these candidates.
Please let your voice be heard! Many of the new candidates oppose these actions by City Council. Elections in Riviera Beach are won, or lost, by only hundreds of votes. That is why your vote really counts. Please register to vote. Just go to the Palm Beach Gardens Court House and register. To vote in this election you must be registered 30 days prior to the election date or by February 9th. If you will be out of town on 11 March or are unable to get to the polls, please obtain an absentee ballot at the Palm Beach Gardens Court House or on line at www.pbcelections.org . It’s your city -- your home! So, please register, and vote.
If you need further information, please look us up on the Web at WWW.RG4RB.ORG or leave a message at 561-863-2485. Please send your contributions to support this effort to:
1281 N. Ocean Dr. PMB 119
Riviera Beach, FL 33404.
Thank you for supporting responsible growth.