Town pursues code tweak for St. Regis condo sales

Associate Publisher

The Town Commission voted unanimously Monday to have town staff work on possible changes to the code to allow the temporary sales structure for the St. Regis Condominiums on the site of the former Colony. Currently, the code only allows for a temporary structure to be built after the building permit has been issued.

Unicorp President Chuck Whittall is requesting to construct the temporary building on the beach side of the former Colony site. Michael Saunders & Company will be selling the residences from the temporary office.

In order to build the temporary sales office, the town commission must first pass an ordinance that allows temporary use for an on-site sales structure, prior to receiving a building permit.

Commissioners debated whether to allow the temporary structure, and if so, how to allow the structure given the town code does not have any language that would currently allow it to be built before the building permit.

Commissioner Jack Daly considered some alternatives for the Unicorp request.

“Are there any provisions in our code that would present a variance that would be site specific?” asked Daly.

Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons answered, “Not to my knowledge, that’s only for permanent structures, not temporary.”

Commissioner Jim Brown asked if the town could consider changing the code to accommodate the St. Regis sales office.

“I’m guessing I’m asking if we need to reconsider changing this code. There’s pre-sales that are necessary,” said Brown. The existing language in that portion of the town code has not been revised since 1970.

Town Attorney Maggie Mooney Portale explained the current language in the code,

“With respect to the issuance of a building permit, that section of our code, it says temporary building structures shall not be built before the issuance of a building permit. All of the language that the code talks about is couched in terms of issuance of a building permit before you can get a temporary building permit.”

Commissioner Ken Schneier separated out the many issues with the request and proposed the commission look into considering whether to re-write the code.

“The way I read the terms of our ordinance, in legislation it’s a little bit different than a court where you have to come up with precedents. One aspect would be the longevity of the ordinance; it’s been in place for 40 years. The second might be the degree of need; is it sort of necessary, absolutely necessary, or a preference? I think this is along the scale of a preference. The third test is whether it is an island-wide issue or a site-specific issue. Because if it’s a very particular use, and I would say reluctantly not to approve this ordinance at this point,” said Schneier.

Commissioner Irwin Pastor felt the issue was more one of doing what the electorate wanted.

“I look at it from this point of view, the electorate’s point of view, and it’s been very clear that the populous would like it to move forward as fast as possible. I think that the developer and the owner have delivered what he said he was going to deliver. If it’s going to be several hundred million in value, I think we could make an exception. I think this should be the avenue that we should pursue, and have our staff work on this,” said Pastor.

Commissioner Jack Daly expanded on the thought and said, “I was asking Allen (Parsons) if there is a basis that the staff and town attorney could provide for an exception or a departure without setting a precedent for general island-wide use, if there is, I would be inclined to do that. Absent that, I think my vote would be not to support the proposal for the change.”

Brown asserted his thought to change the code, “I want to make it clear that we should look whether this ordinance should be changed. Like what Daly said, specifically in projects over certain acreage or of a certain value. I think we owe it to the town and ask staff to come back with feedback on that thought.”

Parsons said that he and town planning staff would look for some form of additional language that would be site-specific language for the St. Regis, and language that would allow for temporary uses. He also indicated he was open for input on possible approaches.

Whittall said the temporary sales structure will cost $2 million to build, and that the bank requires 50 percent presales on the condominiums before construction can begin.

The commission voted 7-0 to move forward and staff will investigate different options to accommodate the request for a temporary structure.

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1 Response for “Town pursues code tweak for St. Regis condo sales”

  1. Thomas Hoffman says:

    Oppose a Temporary Sales Office. Unlikely Whitall will dissolve the association in court when 25% of units are opposed And unwilling to sell to him. Don’t waste county funds on a pipe dream. I am a year round part time non resident since 1974. Soon to be full time resident.

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