Monday, October 27, 2014

Critics say council OKs too many variances

Variance requests are quite common in the Town of Palm Beach. Usually that is a symptom of a zoning code that needs updating and perhaps some of the standards do not reflect the realities that property owners face. It also can be perceived that granting of variances is a way to garner support, or to thank for support given, during election. I don't believe that is the case, but it does create the perception that it could be. And, then you also have to ask what good are the regulations in the zoning code if so many variances are granted. I was alarmed recently when reading an edition of the Shiny Sheet that the variances scheduled for one Town Council meeting took up an entire half page of the paper, in a vertical format with very fine print.

Apparently, the Planning and Zoning Commission thinks things have gotten too permissive and are talking about changes to the process. It doesn't look like that is getting too far. Click title for link.
“They [Palm Beach Town Council] want to be good guys, so they end up granting more than they should,” she [Commission Chairwoman Susan Markin] said. “If someone took a strong line on variances, you wouldn’t get so many of them being applied for, which right now, I have never seen the variance applications as great as they are now. It is totally out of control. We’re deteriorating our zoning code every month.”
Zoning Administrator Paul Castro said the number of zoning requests hasn’t changed much since the 1990s, and that 99 percent of variances are approved. “Maybe one a year is denied, maybe,” he said.
“There’s been this evisceration of the zoning code, variance by variance, so it’s almost as if we don’t have a zoning code anymore if it’s so easy to get a variance,” Vice Chairman Michael Scharf said. “If these were looked at more carefully and came from us with a recommendation, yay or nay, it might slow down this process that’s going on right now.”