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HERE’S THE SCOOP……SAVING EL MAR DRIVE….. AGAIN….

THE FUTURE  OF  EL MAR DRIVE IS AT STAKE….

 

Dear Readers…. whether you have lived in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea for years or just landed as a resident or tourist it must be because you fell in love with what you found…..A Town like no other as described by Martha Munser in her book that is still referred to on the Town website.

We have been here before with urban planners, Town administrations and staff that believe change is their task to accomplish and developers who look at our town as the last beachfront frontier to conquer!

They have all been held at bay and sent packing due to the mobilization of residents old and new who prevailed!

Here we are again!

Just when we thought El Mar Drive was off the redevelopment train with the demise of the overbuilt land grabbing luxury resort that was encouraged by those same change agents on the old Holiday Inn property and the massive design change pushed upon us for the El Mar Drive Project we are now faced with a massive McMansion Conditional Use application at 4112 El Mar Drive on a 50 foot lot that was a walkway to the beach!

Something nefarious, deceptive and/or ignorant has taken place as this application has moved through the Conditional Use process for a single family home in our hotel district, in this writer’s opinion!

Our Interim Town Manager Linda Conners was our Town Planner when the Town Commission made the Conditional Use requirement for single family homes their #2 priority in 2011. She presented it to the 2012 Planning and Zoning Board on March 21, 2012 emphasizing how important it was.

In November 2017 when single family homes were discussed while the Planning and Zoning Board was in the process of bringing the north end codes in-line with the south end, the current Chair of the Planning & Zoning who has been on the board since 2012 brought up single family homes on El Mar Drive and Linda Conners, Director of Development repeated the importance of not having them in our hotel district.

Here we are in 2021 and the first Single Family Home Condition Use application had been submitted for consideration  after it was removed from the original April 2021 Planning & Zoning hearing date. Suddenly it was not being presented on July 7, 2021 to the 2021 Planning and Zoning Board as the catalyst to build a single family home on El Mar Drive, rather it was being cast aside as non-essential in the board’s decision!

The Planning and Zoning Board made it clear they needed direction and history from the Interim Director of Development and the Town Attorney. They were given none! They were not provided backup to that March 21, 2012 Planning & Zoning meeting with the original backup provided for that meeting or the minutes and the video. They were not provided or informed that this 4112 El Mar Drive application was being based on it meeting the Conditional Use requirements to approve or deny it. They stated as a board they felt their hands were tied. They were correct!

The Planning and Zoning Board had their hands tied by being kept in the dark about their role as an advisory board and by not being provided the materials and the direction required to perform their appointed duties!

The last single family home application made prior to the 2012 Conditional Use requirement went to the Planning & Zoning Board multiple times requesting changes before it went to the commission.

That single family home that was never completed had heard the board loud and clear. The attorney for that applicant stated they had reconfigured their house to not impact the small hotel next door to their south!

It was the Seaward Hotel family owner and his attorney who came to the Planning & Zoning Quasi Judicial Hearing opposing the 4112 El Mar Drive Conditional Use applicant who intends to build this McMansion next door the Seaward that did the Town’s job!

Attorney Henry Handler , Seaward Hotel owner Jim Sellitti and their architect tried mightily to inform the board as well as the Interim Director of Development and Town Attorney James White of the purpose of the Single Family Conditional Use in their deliberations but they were summarily cast aside at every turn!

The board was reticent when they passed this applicant on to the commission 4-1 to a hearing set for July 27, 2021.

Between July 7, 2021 Planning & Zoning Board meeting and the July 27, 2021 commission meeting word spread about what took place and what was coming to the commission impacting El Mar Drive !

That Quasi Judicial Hearing in front of the commission was postponed as a result, in my opinion.

At the July 27,2021 commission meeting in Public Comments, Former Mayor Scot Sasser, Former Mayor Roseann Minnet and Former Vice Mayor Stuart Dodd made strong, impactful comments to stress the importance and significance of the Single Family Home Conditional Use requirement they instituted along with our current Mayor Chris Vincent. A large number of public comments were made at the podium and sent in to the Town Clerk from very concerned town people.

The Town Architect did a required architectural review in August after the applicants made a developmental review application right after the July 27, 2021 Quasi Judicial Hearing was canceled which is required for any development in RM25 zones.

On August 10, 2021 the architect stated in his review the modern mansion did not meet the architectural standards mirroring the adverse impact shown in the Conditional Use requirements to meet for approval and concluded with recommending the applicants should redesign and resubmit to not adversely impact the adjacent property or neighborhood. In fact, he lauded the Seaward as an example the Town used in its Architectural Design Standard to follow!
On Aug. 26, 2021 (according to an email sent to the commission on Sept. 7,2021 from the Acting Director of Development per Interim Town Manager Conner’s instruction to update them and inform them the Sept. 13, 2021 hearing was not going to be happening) , the applicant’s attorney found the review ‘insufficient and not specific enough’ and wanted to go forward to the hearing set for Sept. 13, 2021 and stated they  ( applicants) ‘refused to engage further on it.’
The Town instead of proceeding with the hearing, went back to the architect and on Sept, 4, 2021 and Sept. 7, 2021 in his amended reviews he stated ‘Since it is clearly not the intent of the applicant to adhere to the Mid-Century Modern principles’ he would focus on ‘the issue of the proposed alternative”Contemporary”style. He further pointed out the drastic differences with the same adverse, impactful outcome! He ended his final review recommending the applicant ‘study the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Architectural Standard Carefully and propose changes that reflect that intention.’
On Sept.1, 2021 2021 the Planning & Zoning Board were given Ordinance 2021-09 to remove single family homes on El Mar Drive and the grandfathering option. The three Planning & Zoning Board members who voted against grandfathering the applicant did so to rectify the approval votes they said they would not have made on July 7, 2021 had they known what they learned afterward about the importance of the Conditional Use requirement.
In a most unusual move this writer has never seen prior the backup for the Sept. 13, 2021 First Reading for Ord. 2021-09  the Town staff countered the 3-2 vote against grandfathering Planning & Zoning Board vote stating Town staff ‘ deliberated’ and came up with 5 reasons to approve the grandfathering of 4112 El Mar Drive.
As the Seaward owner stated on Sept. 13, 2021 at the podium all 5 reason provided by the ‘deliberating’ Town staff were untrue to what has actually transpired with this application and the applicants as found in the minutes, documents,architectural reviews and the archived videos of the meetings.
At the Sept. 13, 2021 Lauderdale- By- The- Sea Commission meeting Ordinance 2021-09 First Reading took place to no longer allow single family homes on El Mar Drive (due to the debacle of not using the 2012 Conditional Use requirements with this application) and to decide to if they should approve this Conditional Use applicant wanting to build a modern mansion by grandfathering them in.
While the Commission voted 5-0 to approve Ord. 2021-09 to remove single family homes on El Mar Drive to protect our hotel district they greatly erred in approving the grandfathering in of 4112 El Mar Drive. It appears to this writer and many other well informed residents the Commission did not do their homework!
The applicants spoke of wanting to be a part of our town and the fairness they deserve. Thus far, those sentiments and charges made of being negatively labeled at the podium do not ring true when you look at what has actually transpired.
They stated for over the last 7 years they are familiar with our town expressing their  their desire to live here and having something to offer as residents but….
When your established and revered in Lauderdale- By- The- Sea architectural style ( per LBTS Architectural Standard and the Town Architect) next door neighbor, El Mar Drive neighbors, town residents, former elected town officials, town board members, hoteliers, restaurants,and businesses along with the Town Architect and the required Conditional Use and Architectural Review all agree your modern mansion dream home does not belong in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea on El Mar Drive it seems to this writer an applicant must decide whether to build a home that does as advised or build your modern mansion where other modern mansions are allowed!
The Commission on Sept. 28, 2021 at Second Reading must pass Ord. 2021-09 and must deny grandfathering of 4112 El Mar Drive based on actually watching both  Planning & Zoning Board meetings, the March 2012 Planning & Zoning Board meeting.
The Commission must read the 2012 Conditional Use requirements, the Town Architectural Review Standards and read all three reports from the Town Architect.
The Commission must honor their 2021 Mission/Vision pledge to preserve and protect our town!
More to come……

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