Delray Looks To Settle Legal Battle With Downtown Landowners

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Staff report

A majority of Delray Beach commissioners preferred to negotiate a settlement with downtown property owners Billy Himmelrich and David Hosokawa rather than go through with a $6.9 million lawsuit over building height.

The litigation from the landowners was filed against the city of Delray Beach in May. The complaint was over downtown building height limits.

The claim alleged the height limits imposed by the city a few years ago restricted their property and development rights. They own four parcels of land on East Atlantic Avenue. Two buildings, which restaurants Tramonti and Cabana El Rey are housed in and two parking lots.

The suit stated the city violated the Bert Harris Act when it imposed a new development rule that restricted new construction to three stories or 38 feet. Previously four-stories had been permitted.

In late June the city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was seeking $6.9 million from the city.

Last month, the commission directed the city attorney to go forward with a settlement agreement offered by the landowners.

The deal involved taking the height limitation off of their property. That means the landowners would have the potential to build a four story project on the site in the future. Any new development would have to follow the city’s other development rules.

Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Bill Bathurst cast dissenting votes while the majority of the commission supported the settlement.