JUPITER — The city council’s resolution to protect 4 acres of the Suni Sands shell midden and the Celestial Railway right-of-way has made all the 10-acre web site undevelopable, attorneys for property proprietor Charles Modica mentioned.
In a 109-page submitting interesting the council’s resolution, Howard Nelson, an lawyer with Bilzin Sumberg of Miami, requested a listening to earlier than a particular Justice of the Peace, one each side discover acceptable to listen to the case.
On July 25, the council voted 3-2 to approve a certificates to dig on 6 acres of the property alongside the Loxahatchee River close to the Jupiter Inlet. The location is named the primary village in Jupiter the place the Jeaga and Jobe Native American tribes lived at the very least 5,000 years in the past.
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The council put aside for preservation and safety the 4.07-acre Solar Sands Shell Midden, a 10-foot buffer round it, and the 950-foot-long, 9.56-foot-wide pathway the place the Celestial Railway lower throughout the property beginning in 1889.
“It goes with out saying that the event order renders the proposed use of the property not possible,” Nelson mentioned.
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The Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Decision Act permits property house owners to file a request for reduction with the city the place the municipality points a improvement order that both is unreasonable or unfairly burdens the property’s proprietor, Nelson wrote within the transient.
The act states that the governmental company, on this case the city of Jupiter, has 10 days from the receipt of the property proprietor’s request to pick a mutually agreed-upon Justice of the Peace. That is sometimes a Florida lawyer who makes a speciality of land-use legislation. The request was submitted Aug. 21, which might place the deadline on Aug. 31.
The act, as detailed in Florida Statute 70.51, states that after the Justice of the Peace is chosen, the Justice of the Peace should conduct a public listening to inside 45 days until the events agree on a distinct date.
The Justice of the Peace hears from all events and witnesses wanted to know the problem. After the listening to, the Justice of the Peace points a advice, however the city can settle for, modify or reject the nonbinding advice. The property proprietor can elect to file a lawsuit if the end result isn’t as desired.
Modica is a Hobe Sound resident who constructed the Charley and Joe’s Love Road restaurant complicated simply west of the Suni Sands web site. In 2013, he bought Suni Sands for $17 million after receiving a letter that July from the city planning and zoning employees advising him that the property may very well be developed.
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The land use designations have been “Excessive Density Residential” and “Riverwalk Flex.” The letter talked about sure “residential bonus pointers” that have been to be adopted. Modica’s due-diligence representatives met twice with the city employees, who confirmed the property may very well be developed topic to archaeological oversight, Nelson’s submitting mentioned.
“Not as soon as although does the letter point out and even allude to sure archaeological or historic websites impeding the event of the property or that the city meant to protect all or a portion of the property,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Philippe Jeck, Modica’s Juno Seaside-based lawyer, had no remark Thursday. City officers additionally didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Opponents of Suni Sands dig need web site preserved from improvement
On the July 25 listening to, an indignant crowd packed the council chambers and referred to as for all the 10 acres to be preserved. Native American activists, native residents and preservationists offered a united entrance and have been vocal about it, booing, whistling and cheering.
The vote didn’t approve any improvement at Suni Sands that night time however opened the door to permit the builders to submit plans and undergo the conventional improvement software course of. The certificates to dig is required to make sure that any finds of archaeological significance are preserved and handled correctly.
Mayor Jim Kuretski has mentioned he’s hopeful the city will in the end be capable to purchase the positioning. That hinges on whether or not Modica decides he’s keen to promote to the city and an settlement is reached. A city lobbyist has mentioned the state might be able to present cash to assist pay the acquisition worth.
The city council’s vote adopted the city’s Historic Sources Board’s March 13 resolution that denied a dig allow and located that all the 10.4 acres have to be shielded from improvement and preserved.
Modica has proposed a 125-room lodge, 72 condominiums and townhomes and about 12,000 sq. toes of restaurant and retail use. His present plans additionally suggest a public house alongside State Highway A1A paying homage to the Celestial Railway.
“Importantly, no a part of the proposed improvement will disturb the principal mound,” Nelson said.
“The proprietor contends that the property is prime for this type of improvement given its location on the Loxahatchee River, simply minutes from the seaside, and contiguity to residential neighborhoods,” Nelson said.
A map proven on the July 25 assembly exhibits the protected space could be oval in form and lie alongside a part of the positioning’s waterfront, extending from Saturn Road on the east to Clemens Road on the west north of State Highway A1A.
The event order prevents any improvement or digging alongside the Celestial Railroad hall, and the hall bisects the property, basically splitting it in half, Nelson mentioned.
“Moreover, the event order prohibits any improvement on the midden web site or on a 10-foot buffer surrounding the midden web site. This renders all the property undevelopable, besides for 2 small slivers in two corners,” Nelson said within the submitting.
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After Modica bought the property, the Suni Sands mobile-home park that had lengthy stood on the positioning was demolished, and an archaeologist carried out excavation assessments for 9 years, Nelson wrote.
The excavations didn’t reveal any Native American burial, grave or ritual websites, he mentioned. That truth is confirmed by the archaeologist’s experiences, which have been reviewed and deemed ample by the city’s archeologist.
The council additionally failed to contemplate the truth that the positioning’s historical past and archaeology have been altered by earlier improvement, Nelson’s report mentioned. The primary disturbance was the Celestial Railway’s development, which lower a deep swath by means of the midden web site, Nelson mentioned.
The land was a trip rental property from the Nineteen Thirties to the Nineteen Sixties. It then grew to become a 130-unit cell residence park, and that included enhancements equivalent to paved roads, basis slabs, utilities, an residence constructing, a business constructing, a big swimming pool and different buildings.
Whereas Modica doesn’t dispute the truth that the midden is an archeological web site the place indigenous individuals lived, his archaeological marketing consultant discovered that solely 2.09 acres of the midden web site warrants preservation, Nelson said.
Members of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes have said at public hearings that their ancestors are doubtless buried at Suni Sands.
Historic artifacts and finds throughout 289 excavation assessments Modica’s archaeologist carried out from 2014 to 2022 included 4,800 prehistoric ceramic items, a uncommon inexperienced stone hammer and an axe head, which exhibits there was commerce with different communities to the north, in addition to prehistoric skeletal or fossilized human stays, together with seven human enamel and a knee cap.