Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Towers in the Sky Height Limits May Affect 5 Beach Condos

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Towers in the Sky Height Limits May Affect 5 Beach Condos

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- A debate over the height of oceanfront condominiums was supposed to end last year when the City Council passed a law ending its "sky is the limit" policy and setting new rules.

But as construction is starting on two of six planned condominiums along the beach, the debate has resumed.

Some people are questioning how city planning officials are applying the new limits to Oceanic Condominiums at 205 First St. S. The law came about because for years, developers had tried to take advantage of the city's lack of height restrictions on multi-family structures.

Developers of five of the six condominiums, including Oceanic, filed their plans with the city before the new limits took effect Dec. 1. That means they could build their upscale dwellings under the city's old guidelines.

Oceanic's developer obtained permission from the city in April to extend the condominium from six to 11 stories.

That's a big difference, said Ben Rubin, who lives near the future condominium.

"That is ridiculously different," he said. "To me, that's a new plan."

Planning Commission member Wes Massengill agreed.

"It's just going to stick out like a sore thumb," Massengill said. "I just don't think it's what the people wanted or the council intended. It looks to me like they'd have to come under current laws."

In a June 7 letter to City Manager George Forbes, Rubin asked why the planning director wasn't making Oceanic developer John Alexon comply with the new building code since he was seeking substantial changes after the Dec. 1 deadline.

"I feel that the new ordinance is not being applied properly or as intended when unanimously approved by the City Council and strongly supported by the citizens," Rubin said in his letter.

The lot at First Street and Second Avenue South where Alexon wants to build the condominium is only 65.5 feet wide. He reserved 32.7 feet, or half the width, for side yard space, said city Planning Director Steve Lindorff. …

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