Boca Raton Abandons Plans For A New Assisted Living Facility
Lawsuit Filed By A Nonprofit Says City Suddenly Reversed Course After 8 Months
BOCA RATON, FL – Boca Post (BocaPost.com) — A Boca Raton nonprofit is suing the city in hopes they can get approval to build a new assisted living facility in place of a church that currently stands at 2 SW 12th Ave.
Background On The Lawsuit
In a new lawsuit filed by Religious Science Unlimited, Inc, a Boca Raton non-profit that owns the Center for Spiritual Living of Boca Raton, a church and daycare that is located at 2 SW 12th Ave. The location, located just east of I-95 on West Palmetto Park Road, has been owned by Religious Science Unlimited, Inc since 1989 and has been a place of worship since 1962.
According to a new lawsuit last week, the owners allege that the City of Boca Raton has previously agreed that the owners could demolish the existing church and build a new 128-bed assisted living facility in its place. The owners say that they were discussing getting this project approved with City staff who agreed it could be done without a Comprehensive Plan amendment.
Then, the owners say that they were “blindsided” after 8 months of agreement when staff made the following comment:
Upon further review, assisted living facilities are not allowed within the Low Density (RL) future land use category and as such the application cannot be processed further absent a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment. Nevertheless, for your information, below are additional comments generated through Planning Review of your latest submittal.
Religious Science Unlimited, Inc says that the city changed its mind. They later found out that the City created a new policy that it no will no longer permits Assisted Living Facilities to be present in the RL low-density land use category. The city supplemented this policy change with an 8-page staff report that the applicant says they spent a considerable amount of time, effort, and energy on.
Religious Science Unlimited, Inc submitted a rebuttal letter to the application in which they allegedly reviewed, rebutted, and debunked the City’s arguments to demonstrate that the basis of the staff report was invalid. The applicant then resubmitted the application, again, without a request for a Comprehensive Plan amendment.
The City responded by saying the application was “incomplete and non-compliant with the minimum technical requirements of the City Code and/or inconsistent with the intent of the code (Including the City’s Comprehensive Plan).” The city then indicated that the application was “deemed abandoned and have automatically expired (and are null and void).”
The applicant says that the City went to work on its own amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to prevent future ALF applicants in the RL future land use category. According to the lawsuit. the City alleges that the prospective amendment is a mere “housekeeping measure” to remove unnecessary language.
At a Planning Board meeting on April 7th, Mr. Schaad, Director of the City’s Development Services Department, stated the following in response to the applicant’s objections:
We have determined that ALFs, hospitals, convalescent homes, whatever else was in the list, nursing homes, are not permissible in the RL category. The former applicant argues that they are. Regardless of who’s right, nothing in this amendment changes that status. It’s a clarification”
What The Lawsuit Demands
The applicant sues the city for declaratory (and supplemental) relief. The applicant firmly believes that the application does not legally require a Comprehsnive Plan ammendment. The applicatant relied on good faith and incurred extensive obligations and expenses in doing so and therefor demands that the application is not subject to the new Comprehensive Plan requirement.
The applicatant also demands that the application be reinstated and not be considered abandoned or null and void.
The applicant demands that the applicaiton is put back in position it was previously held before the City improperly used the Abandonment Letter to deem it null and void.
The applicant is demanding that the city not be allowed to force the application to require a Comprehensive Plan ammendment.