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Delray Beach commissioners OK changes for housing project

By David Sedore, Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — It came down to a foot of concrete, literally, but the180-unit Franklin at Delray Beach housing project on South Federal Highway won conditional approval from Delray Beach city commissioners to move forward toward construction.

Commissioners granted the project a waiver needed to build a picket fence along South Federal Highway, allowed the development to have a 40-foot “stacking” distance at a secondary entrance on South Federal and concurred with the developer’s request to shorten the distance between two of the apartment buildings.

But they balked when the developer, New Century Cos., asked to be allowed to build four-foot-wide sidewalks in parts of the complex instead of the five-foot width the city code requires. Planning and Zoning Director Paul Dorling recommended against the waiver, arguing that the space was available for the additional foot and that granting a waiver under the circumstances would set a precedent.

“We have design guidelines, and we need to stick with them,” Commissioner Fred Fetzer said, agreeing with Dorling.

In fact, a majority of the commissioners seemed ready to vote against the sidewalk waiver.

But New Century’s Bob Mathias and attorney Michael Weiner argued that wider sidewalks in parts of the project were not practical and would interfere with landscaping. Project engineers previously had revised plans, widening walks in some places to five feet, and in others, to six feet.

“If we could do it, we would do it,” Mathias said.

In the end, the two sides reached a compromise, with commissioners approving the sidewalk waiver on condition that the company work with Dorling to widen the walks if practicable.

The project is to be built on the site of the Floranda Trailer Park and Executive Quarters office complex on the west side of South Federal immediately north of the Plaza at Delray Shopping Center.

Also Tuesday, commissioners:

— Allowed the Daughter of Zion Seventh-Day Adventist Church to hold a revival and outreach program for a week on a tent set up on a vacant lot owned by the Delray Beach Housing Authority. The church wanted to hold the revival for six weeks during July and August, but Lula Butler, the city’s director of community improvement, recommended the shorter period after researching policies of neighboring cities.

— Assigned an unused valet parking queue on Northeast 2nd Avenue to Tramonti, the Italian restaurant at 119 E. Atlantic Avenue. Several restaurants had expressed interest in the queue, formerly operated by Kyoto Sushi, but city parking specialist Scott Aronson said Tramonti was the first to put in a request.

— Approved the sale of a vacant lot on Zeder Avenue to the Delray Beach Community Land Trust for $10. The community land trust will use the land to build affordable housing.

— Approved first readings of several “housekeeping” ordinances, including one that clarifies density maximums in a mixed residential/commercial district on Congress Avenue near the Tri Rail station. Dorling said developers had interpret the city zoning code to mean that 40 to 50 housing units per acre had to be built on land in the district when in fact the numbers are the maximum number of units that can be built per acre in the zone. The maximum varies, depending on the property’s proximity to the Tri Rail station.

— Appointed Office Depot’s Yalmaz Siddiqui to an alternate member’s seat on the Delray Beach Green Implemetation Advancement Board.  Siddiqui is Office Depot’s environmental strategy director, and chaired Delray’s Green Task Force, the forerunner of the green board.


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