Citizens speak out against Briny Breezes redevelopment plan

May 23, 2007
Hundreds of area residents packed a key town-hall meeting Tuesday to condemn the massive, high-density redevelopment plan currently proposed for Briny Breezes. At the meeting, hosted by state Rep. Adam Hasner and state Sen. Jeff Atwater and featuring Florida Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thomas Pelham, dozens of leaders representing towns, neighborhoods, conservation groups and civic associations spoke out against the current Briny Breezes...

DELRAY BEACH, FL, May 22, 2007 -- Hundreds of area residents packed a key town-hall meeting Tuesday to condemn the massive, high-density redevelopment plan currently proposed for Briny Breezes.

At the meeting, hosted by state Rep. Adam Hasner and state Sen. Jeff Atwater and featuring Florida Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thomas Pelham, dozens of leaders representing towns, neighborhoods, conservation groups and civic associations spoke out against the current Briny Breezes redevelopment plan.

Developers want to jam tiny Briny Breezes with multiple high-rise towers housing 900 condominium units, 300 timeshare units, a 349-room luxury hotel, restaurants, retail shops, parking facilities and a yacht marina -- all on an environmentally fragile, hurricane-vulnerable barrier island.

The Florida Coalition for Preservation released architectural projections at the meeting to demonstrate what the 5-million-square-foot residential project would look like. For comparison, each twin tower at the World Trade Center housed 3.8 million square feet of space. To date the developers have not shared any artist's renderings of the plans.

"This Coalition supports reasonable and responsible development that respects the area's character and environment," said former Congressman Tom Evans, Chairman of the Coalition and author of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. "Unfortunately, the proposed Briny Breezes development doesn't meet the test. Even at half the density proposed here, it is unacceptable and must be radically scaled back."

Opponents of the redevelopment plan called attention to a number of vital concerns. Foremost among them that the proposed massive increase in building and population density -- 15 to 20 times that of the surrounding communities -- would put a heavy and costly strain on local infrastructure.

"The developers are proposing a population density that is more in line with Brooklyn, New York than Briny Breezes," said Ken Kaleel, mayor of the Town of Ocean Ridge. "We support reasonable growth and reasonable density, provided it is compatible with the surrounding communities. We support the redevelopment of Briny Breezes and want to work with the developer to achieve an environment that recognizes the sensitivity of the barrier islands and the surrounding communities."

Other infrastructure concerns loomed over the debate Tuesday. Developers have indicated that the amount of water needed to serve the influx of new residents would increase the island's water usage by millions of gallons a year, putting increased pressure on the region's scarce water resources in a time of worsening drought.

With forecasters predicting above normal storm activity during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, 0pponents further questioned the basic wisdom of placing a high-rise project valued at billions of dollars on a hurricane-prone barrier island.

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Also see:
-- Florida Coalition for Preservation

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