RPB Zoners Divided On Variance Requests For Shed And Pool

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission was at odds with village staff on several items during a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 24. While all agenda items were approved, some showed divisions on the board and included much public input.

One such item was the request for a variance in order to allow a shed to be built specifically to house a golf cart allotted for use by a local neighborhood watch program.

The watch founder and captain, Randall Ives, who lives on Misty Lane in Counterpoint Estates, put together the request for the smallest shed possible that would still meet the neighborhood watch’s needs.

“I don’t even have a clubhouse to have my meetings. We do what we can,” Ives said. “I have more than 375 members’ homes. I don’t have any plans to leave. I have children and grandchildren, and I plan to stay right here.”

Ives added that he is willing to sign a stipulation that should he move, he would remove the shed.

Commission Alternate Adam Miller asked Development Review Coordinator Kevin Erwin if staff had worked to find alternative locations, but the answer was complicated.

“In the technical staff review meeting, we did identify that there is a large open space in his back yard,” Erwin said. “However, he has identified that as the location of a pool that he would like to build at a later date.”

Ives’ neighbor, Dave Sager, also of Misty Lane, said he lives within the 300-foot radius of the shed and supports the request.

“I believe our crime has been down,” Sager said of the neighborhood watch program. “I think it’d be great to have the golf cart on my street. I have no reason to see why it should be denied. I hope you support it. It’s for a good cause.”

Commission Chair David Leland asked to abstain but was required to cast a vote. In the past, Leland said that he had endured issues over a shed on his property that had to be removed. He was the only dissent in a motion that passed 4-1.

Another split decision focused on the request for a variance to build a pool in the Huntington Woods area. Village staff did not support approval of the application, which passed 3-2 with Leland and Commissioner Ray Nazareth dissenting.

Nearby residents in the area had been denied applications for similar requests in the past, and one such resident came to comment on the matter. The variance request includes an 8.81-foot setback instead of the required 13 feet.

“I’ve lived there since 1988, and to make things consistent, I had a similar drawing in 1994 of adding a pool to my yard. We needed less than a foot of variance, and the village turned it down,” Alan Siegel of Roycourt Circle said. “I’ve seen variance after variance denied to protect the property values in the development. I request that the zoning commission deny the variance.”

Leland noted that the decision is not a final one. The final decision rests with the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

“This is an [advisory] commission, and we make recommendations to the council,” Leland said. “We can decide whatever we want, but it doesn’t mean that it is going to be upheld because it still has to go before the council.”

Also on the agenda, village staff did not support Michael and Cindy Feoli’s request for a variance to allow for existing permanent awning structures at their home on Westmont Lane. The commissioners, however, gave it unanimous approval.

“We were approved by the association and citizens of Madison Green. We have a son who has special needs, and we can’t have him in sunlight,” Michael Feoli said. “It’s sound and perfect, and we even remove it prior to storms. We didn’t know we had to run it through the village, we just thought it had to go through the association.”

The Feolis spent $11,000 to have a licensed contractor build the structure to meet fire codes. Five months after completion, he received a code enforcement notice.

“To me, it sounds like you’re a victim in a way,” Nazareth said. “You’re an advocate for your son, and you’re trying to protect him because of his health. I commend you for that. It sounds like you are fighting for the right cause here.”

In other business:

• Excel Consultants Inc. found both staff and board support for upgrades to the Verse Apartments on Kingfisher Way. The project for new window shades and paint scheme were approved without issue.

• There was also one item for the board meeting as the Local Planning Agency, which preceded the regular meeting. That item was the rezoning of approximately 13 acres of land located on the south side of Southern Blvd. as part of the ongoing Tuttle Royale project.

The two tracts of land will change from an agricultural residential (AR) designation to public ownership (PO). The intent is that 10.7 acres of the land will be used to meet the project’s recreation obligations, and the rest remains in the Florida Power & Light easement. Village staff supported the application, which passed unanimously.