Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeowner Nets Approval for Concrete Wall by Path

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeowner Nets Approval for Concrete Wall by Path

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

NEPTUNE BEACH -- Even though some people had said a planned 8-foot-high wall along a public beach access path would be obtrusive, the City Council approved plans this week for an even taller structure.

The council unanimously approved a variance Monday for the construction of a concrete wall on the northern border of a property at 203 Oceanfront St. Property owner Louis Stuart has wanted to build the wall for years.

Stuart got approval last year for a zoning variance allowing a maximum height of 8 feet for the wall. The city's ordinance usually limits residential fence heights to 4 feet.

Monday's council action increases Stuart's variance allowance to 10 feet along the side of his house, then decreases it to 6 feet heading toward the beach, tapering off to 4 feet at the dune line.

"There was a need, and it was an unusual circumstance because it's in the central business district," City Manager Jim Jarboe said. "The noise level and the security were an issue, where it wouldn't normally be a problem in a residential area."

The Lemon Bar is to the north of Stuart's home, and the Town Center shopping and restaurant area is close as well, making for more visitors than usual to the public beach access at the end of Lemon Street.

"That's the whole downtown area," Jarboe said.

A wall already stands along the beach access side of the property. Stuart said he'll knock that down and build a new one.

Stuart's property was a point of contention when the variance for an 8-foot-high fence was approved in August. Several council members worried that such fences would obscure the ocean view as the public walked down the access paths.

"We would effectively block the view," Councilman John Weldon said last summer. Weldon was the only council member absent at Monday's meeting.

Former Councilman Larry Shealy was the only council member to vote against the initial variance in August, noting that the city shouldn't tamper with any areas near the public accesses. …

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