Board rejects zoning change request for Delray Beach monastery property
Residents of a Delray Beach neighborhood have won their latest effort to prevent a zoning change that would allow for the construction of a nursing home where a shuttered Catholic monastery current sits.
Speaking during the city's Planning and Zoning Board meeting, residents of the Sherwood Park neighborhood voiced their displeasure about a New York-based developer's plans to build a 240-bed nursing home on the 10.97 acres of land currently occupied by Christ the King Monastery of St. Clare.
TL Management LLC purchased the property last year after the cloistered nuns who lived there sought to leave the aging building.
Before the developer can build the nursing home, a zoning change is required.
But many residents who live in the neighborhood oppose the project at 3900 Sherwood Blvd., concerned that it will reduce their home values and bring increased traffic.
An attorney for the developer presented a traffic study intended to ease residents' concerns, but during Monday night's meeting at City Hall, resident Dan Carter criticized the study for using decades-old data.
At one point during the meeting, attorney John Rice said he believes the proposal would result in a "net decrease in traffic," leading to an outburst of laughter from the residents in attendance.
Rice added that the traffic study was prepared by a Florida traffic engineer.
"This does result in a net traffic increase," Rice misspoke before correcting himself. "I'm sorry, decrease. Decrease."
His comments again prompted laughter.
During cross examination, Ross asked Carter if he was a transportation engineer or certified in transportation engineering in Florida. Carter said he was a landscape architect and not an expert.
Another resident, Nicholas Coppola, also refuted Rice's argument that the monastery was not a residence. Coppola pointed out that it was, in fact, home to the cloistered nuns.
Rice asked Coppola if he was aware that the city zoning code considers the monastery to be nonresidential.
"I am specifically trying to preserve the integrity and character of a community I moved into 60 years ago, knowing what I was moving into, and to change that would be unfair," Coppola said.
Then Coppola added some comic relief.
"I'm a retired electrician by trade, if that helps," he said.
In the end, the board voted 6-0 against the developer's request. Board member Gregory Snyder, who lives in the neighborhood, recused himself.
Although the decision brings some relief for residents, the matter isn't necessarily over.
The developer could appeal the decision before the City Commission.
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