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A developer spent $10 million on a piece of land in Delray Beach with big plans of opening a brand new car dealership along Federal Highway.

Those plans are on life support, though, after the City Commission quashed the proposal in September. Now, the developer is hoping the courts will step in and keep the proposal alive.

The developer, ABC JC Auto Imports LLC, has filed a petition for a circuit court to review the decision, claiming its due process rights were violated by the commission. Filed by Fort Lauderdale law firm Greenspoon Marder LLP, the petition asks for a court to review the decision of a lower court, or in this case, a government body.

During a September meeting, the City Commission narrowly denied a rezoning application that would have allowed the proposed 4.3-acre Hyundai dealership to operate at 2419 N. Federal Highway.

The proposed Hyundai dealership would be built on a vacant lot that has remained undeveloped for more than a decade and an adjacent pottery store. The land was purchased for $10 million in January, according to Palm Beach County Property Appraiser records.

As a result, Delray Hyundai would move from its current location just south of George Bush Boulevard into the new property, which is twice as large. Nearby businesses include Gunther Volkswagen and Gunther Volvo dealerships, a car wash, a home furnishing store, and bicycle shop.

If a circuit court judge determines the plaintiffs were not afforded due process rights, the case will be sent back to the City Commission and be reheard. The court cannot uniformly overrule the commission’s decision and grant the zoning application.

The petition claims the proposal “satisfied all of the applicable requirements of the city of Delray Beach and Florida” and that commissioners made a “faulty and unsupported determination.”

Delray Beach City Attorney Lynn Gelin said the city can’t comment on current litigation.

During the Aug. 16 meeting, city commissioners voted 3-2 against the proposal. Among the concerns were the dealership directly abutting a residential neighborhood to the east and concerns about allocating more of the city’s scarce available land to car dealerships when Delray Beach already has more than 20 dealerships in business.

Additionally, a new AutoNation Land Rover Jaguar dealership is being planned for 1001 W. Linton Blvd., adjacent to a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

More than 98% of the city is already built out, making it difficult for developers to find large pieces of land to build on. While much of the city’s recent development has centered around the downtown, Congress Avenue and the southern portion of Federal Highway, the northern part of Federal could become a new hot spot for development.

Across the street from the proposed car dealership, a luxury home developer purchased Ellie’s 50′s Diner, which operated for 32 years, for $5 million in July. In the short term, the plan is for the site to remain a dining establishment with new operators and a new theme, but the long term plan will likely see it transformed into condominiums or townhomes.


Source:  SunSentinel