Martin Commission agenda includes Flash Beach Grille of Hobe Sound and ‘pesky Comp Plan’

Flash Beach Grille, Hobe Sound (Source: Facebook)

 

Local attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock shares her research and analysis of Tuesday’s upcoming Martin County Board of County Commissioners’ meeting:

The Board of County Commissioners is being asked on Tuesday to establish a terrible precedent which is contrary to one of the important pillars of the Martin County Difference and to reward property owners who reneged on their promises to comply with the Comprehensive Plan.
The owners of the Flash Beach Grille in Hobe Sound, who earlier persuaded three commissioners to ignore the rules governing the minimum size for restaurants to obtain a special liquor license, are now asking the Board to eliminate all of the upland preserve area established by the Preserve Area Management Plan for their Bridge Road restaurant property.
On a more positive note, Commissioner Fielding has announced an excellent appointment to the Local Planning Agency, and the County Attorney has negotiated a release for the County from the ill-advised Rio Mobile Village purchase agreement.
Other items on Tuesday’s agenda are fairly routine due to the withdrawal of potentially controversial items related to negotiations with the Business Development Board for a new contract with the County and an update of Community Redevelopment Agency projects.
Here’s a sampling of items on Tuesday’s BOCC agenda:
Agenda Item 4B4 on the Consent Agenda seeks approval of the appointment of Jensen Beach High School marine science teacher Crystal Lucas as District 2 representative on the Local Planning Agency.  Crystal has been an outstanding advocate for the St. Lucie River estuary and the Indian River Lagoon as well as a strong supporter of the Martin County Comprehensive Plan.
Agenda Items 4C1-2 seek approval on the Consent Agenda of a waiver of thousands of dollars in code enforcement fines by reducing more than $157,000.00 in fines for violations on two properties by 90%  to just over $15,700.00.
Agenda Item 8A2 was to have provided an update on negotiations with the BDB for a new County contract, but staff has requested that this item be withdrawn.  Although the existing contract requires the BDB to provide an annual report to the Commission by October 31 each year, no BDB-related items remain on the agenda and the next BOCC meeting is scheduled for November 5, 2013 (there are no BDB meetings scheduled at this time).
Agenda Item 8B1, a Community Redevelopment Agency project update, has also been withdrawn at the request of staff.
Agenda Item 8C1 seeks Board approval of an agreement releasing Martin County and the owner of the Rio Mobile Village property from a contract for purchase and sale, with the County to recoup about half of the cost of cleaning up the property ($30,000.00) from the proceeds of sale when the owner finds a buyer for the property.  The County also agrees to waive more than $1.7 million in code enforcement fines on the property upon conveyance of title to a new owner.
Agenda Item 8D1 is a request to eliminate an upland preserve area that was previously approved for the Flash Beach Grille property pursuant to upland preserve area requirements of our Comprehensive Plan.
The item is pre-set for 11:00 a.m.
The restaurant owners previously asked for — and got — a waiver from the minimum size requirement for a special liquor license by claiming that an outdoor dining area counted as “floor area” to meet the 2,500-sq. ft. minimum floor area requirement (the restaurant has about 1,800 square feet of floor space inside).  The owners and the commission majority did not, however, count the outdoor dining area as “floor area” in order to meet requirements for more parking and restrooms.  Go figure.
When the Flash Beach Grille owners asked commissioners to bend the rules for the special liquor license last December, they acknowledged a previous violation of the preserve area but promised to clean it up, restore it, and “do everything that needs to be done” to comply with the law.
A funny thing happened on the way to the preserve, though.
The restaurant owners decided that instead of keeping their promise to clean it up and restore it, they’d rather simply eliminate it altogether.  So nearly 11 months after their lawyer assured the County that the owners “met recently with [staff] to discuss re-planting the Preserve Area” and that they had “begun restoration of the Preserve Area to the intended condition under the County Comprehensive Plan,” the owners, Robert and Anita Breinig, are now claiming the entire preserve area should be eliminated because they need “full use of the property we purchased” without regard for any pesky Comp Plan upland preserve requirements.
Staff has recommended denial of the request to eliminate the preserve area.
As an alternative, Staff developed another configuration that would allow the property owners to comply with the preserve area requirement by changing the existing preserve boundaries, so long as there is habitat restoration and removal of unauthorized structures.
In yet another alternative recommendation, Staff points out that there are “alternate compliance provisions” for properties within the Mixed Use Overlay of a designated CRA which could allow the property owners to eliminate the preserve if they establish a preserve of the same type and size on another property within the same CRA by either paying the full cash value for the preserve or by donating land to a planned CRA preserve system.
Kudos to staff for thinking outside the box in an effort to assist the business owners while still preserving and protecting upland areas for all Martin County residents.
And kudos to the County Attorney’s Office for a thorough legal analysis and recitation of the legal principals to be followed by the BOCC in responding to the property owners’ request.

 

 

 

 

 

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