What was Ocean Land Investments' plan for Briny Breezes?
Ocean Land Investments, a Boca Raton-based real estate development company, had an option to buy the entire town of Briny Breezes for $510 million. On April 12, 2007, the company released a development plan to convert the 43-acre town of about 440 residences into a huge development of 1,200 high-end condominiums in multiple high rises from 12 to 20 stories, as well as a 349-room luxury hotel, restaurants, shops and a yacht marina. The project would have brought several thousand hotel guests, time share and condominium residents, as well as an estimated 1,000 resort employees into the area. According to estimates by Ocean Land, construction would take approximately 10 years.
Why was it a problem?
This massive project did not match the character nor the small populations of surrounding towns. The addition of thousands of people in this small town would strain the region's scarce water resources, overtax its sewage infrastructure and cripple its transportation and traffic system. The negative impact of the ten-year project would immediately be felt in the form of increased traffic congestion. Three single-lane drawbridges spaced several miles apart provide access to the barrier island. Increased car, truck and boat traffic would create gridlock, particularly when the drawbridges are open. Traffic detours in construction areas would increase everyday police, fire and paramedic response times, and prolong evacuations during storm seasons.
The increased demand on the region's offshore-draining sewage system would choke nearby coral reefs and potentially drift back to Delray Beach, hurting tourism and the environment. Overdevelopment, increased beach activity and bright lights from high-rise buildings would damage or destroy nesting grounds for threatened sea turtles and adversely affect marine life populations. The proposed yacht marina would have equally devastating effects on the sea life, especially manatees.
What should be done?
The Florida Coalition for Preservation is not opposed to the sale and redevelopment of Briny Breezes - only the irresponsible plan to build multiple high-rise buildings that will dangerously overstress the surrounding infrastructure and environment. Future Briny Breezes development plans must be radically and responsibly altered to sustain the area's infrastructure, preserve the area's fragile environment and protect the character and quality of life in surrounding communities.
Timeline and Associated Press Releases and Coverage
January 10, 2007 - Briny Breezes residents voted to sell their town to developers for $510 million.
April 3, 2007 - Briny Breezes and the developers announced a proposal to jam the tiny oceanfront town with 900 condominium units, 300 time-share units, a 349-room luxury hotel, a yacht marina, parking facilities, restaurants and retail shops.
April 26, 2007 - Florida Coalition for Preservation announced formation to protect vulnerable barrier islands from overdevelopment. The Coalition is a broad-based group of organizations and individuals representing many thousands of people. The first high-priority project was Briny Breezes.
May 2007 - The Coalition facilitated neighborhood meetings of concerned citizens seeking facts about the Briny Breezes plan.
May 22, 2007 - Hundreds of community residents, along with the mayors of adjacent towns and representatives from a number of local, state, and national groups, flocked to a town-hall meeting in Delray Beach to discuss the Briny Breezes plan. The tremendous turnout at the meeting was due in part to the efforts of the Coalition and its huge number of volunteers. Sen. Jeff Atwater, Rep. Adam Hasner, and Florida Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thomas Pelham heard a preponderance of attendees voice opposition to the plan.
May and June, 2007 - Concerned citizens sent a record number of e-mails, letters and phone calls to the Florida Department of Community Affairs raising factual objections about the Briny Breezes plan. Many public agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District, Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, submitted reports to the Department of Community Affairs voicing their concerns.
June 29, 2007 - The Florida Department of Community Affairs issued a report highly critical of the developer's plans for Briny Breezes.
July 30, 2007 - The Briny Breezes deal is canceled by the land developer after a dispute with the Town's Board of Directors over a proposed extension of the due diligence period.
June 10, 2008
On June 2008, the Town of Briny Breezes re-instated their Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board and elected five Board members. The Board has spent the past two years completing the Town's Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) and it was approved by the Town on September 23. In turn, the EAR will be submitted to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) at the State for their comments. DCA has 60-90 days to issue comments to Briny. If any elements within the EAR are deemed "non-sufficient" by the DCA, Briny must address the issues and re-submit. It is customary that the EAR be found "sufficient" prior to municipality beginning revisions on their Comprehensive Plan.
Click here to read the Town's Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR). Most notably the EAR plans for:
The Coalition remains steadfast in insisting that any future plans for redevelopment be consistent with state and local mandates regarding density. State (Florida Statute 9J-5), Regional and County policy calls for a long term movement of populations away from vulnerable Coastal High Hazard Areas such as Briny Breezes.
Click here to read Coastal Star's October 2010 article on Briny population.
Click here to read Florida Statute 9J-5.
Click here to read County policy and objectives.