Unexpected Board Vote A Setback For Flat Roof Project In Wellington’s Palm Beach Point

The rules of Wellington’s Architectural Review Board, which requires a four-vote majority to approve projects regardless of how many board members are present, created a headache Wednesday, April 20 for the owners of a planned equestrian estate in Palm Beach Point that sought to use a design not approved by Wellington’s code.

Initially, the April 20 meeting had a fairly long agenda. However, five of the seven items requested postponements once it became clear that only four of the seven board members would be in attendance, and any approval would require a 4-0 vote.

“Attendance is extremely important for this board because of the four-person rule,” Senior Planner Kelly Ferraiolo explained. “Because this board is structured that you need four votes for an item to pass, I gave all of the petitioners the option to move their items to either the next agenda or a future agenda.”

Only two items proceeded forward that night, including the 10.66-acre Marigold Farms LLC project at the corner of Palm Beach Point Blvd. and Sunset Lane.

The petition requested permission for an alternative design plan for a flat roof on the primary residence, barn, covered arena and maintenance building. The land is currently vacant, and all the proposed buildings were similar in design.

The owners applied for building permits, which were denied due to the flat roof design. The village code requires that all residential roofs have at least a 3:12 (42 percent) pitch. Also, flat roofs can’t be visible from the street. Extra landscaping is on the property, which meets all setback requirements.

“The owner is requesting a flat roof with a minimum one-fourth-inch pitch for a new contemporary architectural style of ‘tropical modern’ for all buildings,” Ferraiolo said.

However, Wellington’s land development regulations do not easily accommodate modern style trends. Previous versions of the LDRs allowed administrative approval of flat roofs, and several were granted. A 2019 change to the rules requires approval by the ARB.

Village staff recommended approval to allow the flat roof, subject to conditions. Among them, a two-foot parapet will be needed to screen the flat roofs from the street.

Jack Carruthers from Insite Design Group spoke on behalf of the applicant.

“Our design influences are Mid-Century Modern,” he said. “We incorporate the use of warm natural materials, such as wood veneers, natural stones and earth-tone paint colors. The design is modern but intended to be very organic to fit within its environment.”

The firm has completed several other estates in Wellington with similar designs. According to Carruthers, this current project was approved by the Palm Beach Point Property Owners’ Association. He noted that the owners plan to use the home as their primary residence.

“We feel this is an important design that would accommodate the neighborhood well and would be timeless for Wellington and the equestrian world,” he said.

The presentation went smoothly with little comment from the board until it came time for a vote.

A motion was made by Board Member Ryan Mishkin, seconded by Board Member Luis Rodriguez, to approve the request. Board Member Tom Wenham joined Mishkin and Rodriquez in support of the project, but Board Member Dayna Bertola voted no. Board members Stacy Somers, Miguel Alonso and Roger Grave de Peralta were absent.

Bertola had no comment as to why she voted no, saying only, “They had the opportunity to postpone it.”

The unexpected 3-1 vote sent the other board members and village staff scrambling. The applicant would need to wait a year to come back unless there were significant changes to the project.

Senior Planner Damian Newell noted that since the 3-1 vote was inconclusive, the board could vote to table the item to the May meeting. However, a vote to table the item was also 3-1 with Bertola dissenting, which again was inconclusive.

Staff present said that they would need to consult with the village’s legal staff to determine what happens next.

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen told the Town-Crier after the meeting that the board neither approved nor denied the item.

“Having reviewed the video, it is my recommendation that the board reconsider the matter at the next meeting since it was not specifically denied,” Cohen said. “Essentially, no action was taken. One of the board members in attendance at the last meeting could move to reconsider it at the next meeting.”

The second item on the agenda was approved with all four votes of the attending board members. It was on the elevations and signage for the Lotis Wellington medical office buildings.

The medical office buildings will be in the commercial pod of the overall 64-acre project located on the west side of State Road 7 north of Wellington Regional Medical Center. The board has been approving architectural features for different portions of the project over the past several months.

The twin medical buildings are located near the planned parking garage approved by the board recently. They feature a modern design and are 34 feet tall with parapet towers at 40 feet.

The buildings are nearly identical and are designed to insure compatibility with the surrounding Lotis Wellington project. Most of the signs fell within the approved sign code, with one wall sign slightly over. Staff recommended approval of the request with 11 conditions.

Speaking for the developer were Richard Kasser and James Gielda with the Lotis Group. Board members asked about the colors, which have slight variations from other approved building designs.

“We went with similar but complementary,” Gielda said. “I think it gives a little bit of a visual cue to these two medical office buildings.”

Bertola wasn’t sure about the wood used in the design. “When you have too many woods, it gets a little bit funky,” she said.

Rodriguez was fine with that part of the design. “I don’t think we want it to be completely monochromatic,” he said.

Bertola also wanted more specifics on the actual colors to be used. “I like the design, but I think the walnut seems a little orange,” she said.

The Lotis representatives said that the actual design would be darker than the available renderings.

Rodriguez made a motion to approve the exterior elevations and signage for the medical buildings, which carried 4-0.

Due to the many items moved to the next agenda, along with several items already scheduled, the ARB meeting set for Wednesday, May 18 is expected to run long.

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