Palm Beach plans to simplify demolition permit process

The new process would change the method of calculating a demolition of 50 percent or more of a house or building

Crew razes a 1920s home at 200 S. Ocean Boulevard in 2014. (Credit: Palm Beach Daily News)
Crew razes a 1920s home at 200 S. Ocean Boulevard in 2014. (Credit: Palm Beach Daily News)

The government of Palm Beach is likely to make town permits for partial demolition easier to get.

The town council has directed the planning and zoning commission rewrite the municipal code to clarify its definition of “50 percent” demolition, a key threshold.

A Palm Beach property owner who wants to demolish 50 percent of more of a house or building must ensure the entire property complies with zoning regulations, or get a variance from the town council.

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The town’s planning and zoning commission on Dec. 19 unanimously approved a definition of 50 percent demolition based on exterior-wall and roof-truss space, excluding space taken by doors and windows that open.

Current code language bases the 50 percent threshold on cubic feet of interior space, a measurement that has confused individual property owners as well as builders, architects and town staff.

Town zoning administrator Ray Castro told the Palm Beach Daily News the new measure of the 50 percent threshold would apply not only to demolitions but also additions by property owners seeking to enlarge their properties by half or more.

To enact an amended measurement of the 50 percent threshold, the town council would have to approve a proposed ordinance twice in separate votes. [Palm Beach Daily News] — Mike Seemuth

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