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Shores panel OKs A1A office building

STORY BY MEG LAUGHLIN (Week of October 16, 2014)
Protesters pack the Indian River Shores Planning, Zoning and Variance Board meeting in Town Hall.

With a record crowd of protesters packing Town Hall, the Indian River Shores Planning, Zoning and Variance Board unanimously recommended Monday that the Spectrum office building project be approved by the Town Council.

But they did it with one important concession to those opposing the project: The two-story building will not be able to house retail businesses or medical practices.  Only professional offices will be allowed.

The board, however, did not yield to repeated requests that the building be smaller and that more green space surround it.

 About 150 people took all of the available chamber seats, stood along the walls and gathered in groups outside to applaud speeches against the project and shout “no” when a handful of people spoke in favor of the Bermuda-style building proposed for a site  across A1A from the Shores Town Hall.

Prior to the meeting, about 200 Shores residents signed a petition against the Spectrum project, saying they feared the commecial building would destroy the quiet residential ambience of the area.

Those favoring the project said it would be “a gorgeous building and an enhancement” to the area. 

The new commercial building, which will have shutters, balconies and columns, will sit on A1A between Sunset Drive and Beachcomber Lane.

One of the nearby homeowners, Karen Gandolfo, asked the board what she should do about the building’s garbage dumpster, which she said would be close to her yard: “Am I going to end up having to buy a cat to catch the rats?”

Her husband Greg predicted that the building would eventually become an expansion of the Village Shops, a retail area currently being renovated immediately to the north.

“What worries me the most is that the smart home buyer realizes this possibility and will not buy a home on our street,” he said.

After loud supportive applause, John’s Island resident Nancy Lynch spoke for the project and the developers: “These men live among us. They want the best for this area as much as anybody,” she said.

To get the zoning board’s backing, the Spectrum team of engineers and architects reworked the driveways, green space and walls surrounding the building. Their lawyer, Chris Marine, told project protestors: “We’ve made an earnest, good-faith effort to be sensitive to your concerns.”

With its vote, the board approved recommending to the Shores Town Council that it amend the land use map so that two residential lots are rezoned commercial lots for the building. (One of those lots had at one time been zoned commercial.) 

The planning and zoning board also voted to recommend to council members that they approve the site plan.

The board said it would also recommend that the Town Council ask the project engineer “to make an effort to relocate the dumpster” away from the Gandolfo yard.

The Town Council will consider the board’s recommendations in the next few weeks.