This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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After nearly 3 years of argument, the Mizner 200 redevelopment project located on Mizner Blvd between Palmetto Park Road and South Federal Hwy. has arrived at the final decision making destination in Boca Raton government; to wit: The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). However, it appears that a final decision is far from a reality. Why?
Although the project has cleared the Community Advisory Board (CAB) and the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z), the last hurtle is the Community Redevelopment Agency made up of our five elected officials (City Council) and under the leadership of an executive director whose primary function is that of City Manager. A bit incestuous don’t you think?…and the opposition is fierce!
As the Community Redevelopment Agency, our City Council members are tasked with the function of being a fact finder for any reviewing court in the event of an appeal. Their function in this quasi-judicial setting is to determine whether the evidence of record is ‘substantial and competent’ to support whatever decision they arrive at….In the BocaWatch article dated May 22nd , a caution was suggested to make sure that the record evidence could and would survive a court challenge….As of now, I believe that there is evidence to support any decision the CRA takes with regards this project.
Deny it and the developer appeals; approve it and the opposition appeals….the fact remains that there appears to be record evidence to support either decision….Not to suggest what result a reviewing court may arrive at, the very least is that the elected officials have amassed a record upon which the reviewing court may depend and the CRA will have performed its responsibility in this matter.
So what is the body of evidence supporting both sides of the equation? Incorporated by reference will be the numerous presentations made by the applicant, ELAD, its experts and supporting public voices. Presentations by lawyers, as articulate as they may be, are not evidence for purposes of the review. It is also assumed that the applicant will once again present all its evidence, its experts and all supporting argument at the July 24th CRA meeting for further consideration.
In the May 22nd article, my major concern was that evidence supporting denial was more opinion evidence from community voices then substantial competent evidence required to support a denial. In retrospect and anticipating the July 24th presentation, opposition interests will have now introduced a full body of evidence to meet their burden.
Listed below are all the articles that BocaWatch has published over the last two years with regards to the Mizner 200 project. For those of you that are insomniacs, this may be interesting reading on your sleepless nights. Also linked here are additional submittals from experts that will testify for the opposition on this matter.
- Great Community Guest Editorial: July 10, 2017 Michael Liss
- Mizner 200: Approve or not approve June 26, 2017 John Gore
- Mizner 200 Update: Video- May 30, 2017 Jack McWalter
- Local Politics; the Determining Factor: May 22, 2017 Alfred Zucaro
- BocaWatch Satire – Monster on Mizner, the Sequel: May 22, 2017 Jessica Gray
- Mizner 200 – Revisited: May 3, 2017 BocaWatch
- Mizner 200 – White paper III: October 24, 2016 BocaWatch
- Mizner 200 – Archstone revisited: September 6, 2016 Alfred Zucaro
- Mizner White Paper 1: April 19, 2016 BocaWatch
These submittals are in the form of four (4) letters and suggested design drawings for your review. These submittals are from the following entities:
- Three industry professionals critiquing the outside consultants’ report stating that the Mizner 200 was in compliance with Ordinance 4035; Mizner 200 – May 5th Letter of Opposition
- Letter of opposition from Investment Limited, the property owner immediately to the west of Mizner 200; Mizner 200 – Investment Limited Letter of Opposition
- Letter of opposition from Townsend Place, the property immediately to the south of Mizner 200 Mizner 200 – Townsend Place Letter of Opposition;
- Jorge Camejo, the former CRA executive director who concludes that the project is not consistent with Ordinance 4035; Mizner 200 – Camejo Letter of Opposition
- Design drawings and elevations of what is being proposed and what would need be proposed to meet the criteria of Ordinance 4035 Mizner 200 Suggestion Final
Of great interest ascertained from these submittals is that the objections being made are all about design and vistas. There is no mention of the specious arguments of traffic, congestion and safety as was being made at prior hearings and in open letters presented to the community through BocaWatch. Perhaps this is because the major opposition is from Investment Limited and Investment Limited is in the process of designing a redevelopment project for their Royal Palm Plaza property that will greatly exasperate those traffic and parking concerns if those concerns were again to be raised. The opposition against the Mizner 200 project is and has always been about compatibility with the surrounding neighbors and about the neighboring properties’ view and vista corridors.
Finally, the rhetoric can be set aside and the evidence can be viewed on the merits of these arguments….and on these arguments, there appears to be substantial and competent evidence to support whatever decision the CRA members chose to make….that is a good thing….
One last comment….the recent opposition submittals indicate that although the applicant met with the surrounding property owners early in the process, they have refused to meet again and continue the dialogue to find a negotiated solution and, hence, have now set up this win/lose situation. That was a big mistake. As was proven by the Ocean Palm property at the corner of A1A and Palmetto, when the parities sit around a table and identify each party’s concerns, solution can be reached. The overriding interest should always be what is in the best interest of the ‘community’.
If that were to become the guiding light here in Boca Raton, all parties would be contributing to the betterment of all concerned….Amen!