Pembroke development challenged in court by neighbors

  • Pembroke Pines NICK REID

Monitor staff
Friday, May 19, 2017

Fifteen neighbors are appealing a Pembroke zoning board decision in Superior Court, arguing the board improperly gave the green light to a development of 19 multi-family units in the forested area between Pembroke Pines Country Club and the White Sands Conservation area.

“The zoning ordinance, which is the legal manifestation of what the voters want the community to look like, calls for single family or duplexes in the area where this property is located,” said Amy Manzelli, one of the neighbors in the case. An environmental attorney land-use at a Concord practice, Manzelli is representing herself and the other plaintiffs.

“The community proposed won’t fit the community that exists – and does not fit with what the town envisioned for this area,” she added.

In her pleading, Manzelli claims the board erred when it gave the Billerica, Mass.-based developer, Keystone Pembroke LLC, owned by Bob MacCormack, a special exception to build units with four dwellings each – and not a variance – in January.

“A special exception could permit the construction of a one (sic) multi-family dwelling. More than one multi-family dwelling requires a variance,” Manzelli wrote in the complaint, filed last month.

This isn’t the first time a bid by MacCormack to develop in the area has faced pushback. In February 2016, the zoning board turned down his application to build apartment buildings with a total of 186 units on the 94-acre parcel after over 100 residents turned out to oppose the project at a hearing.

Manzelli also argues that the project, which is located in an Aquifer Conservation District, requires a special exception application that considers the proposal’s potential impact on groundwater and aquifer storage.

But Bruce Kudrick, the chairman of the zoning board, said the body approved the project because MacCormack followed the town’s rules in his application.

“Everything seems to be appealed today. It’s not in my neighborhood. Doesn’t matter what it is. But it’s their land, and if they meet all the regulations, they have the right to do it,” he said.

Manzelli also argues that the application was generally scant on details, but Kudrick said some of the questions she was asking are supposed to be answered later on in the process of getting a project approved.

“A lot of the issues that she brought up were not our issues – they were planning board issues,” he said.

MacCormack, who also owns the nearby golf course, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Manzelli said she doesn’t contest his right to build in the area – she just thinks the density of his proposal isn’t in keeping with the town’s zoning ordinance. She’s reached out to his lawyer, she said, in hopes that MacCormack will once again amend his proposal.

“I and others in the neighborhood very much hope that he is willing to talk with us and reconsider his development so that we don’t have to have a long slog fighting this out in court,” she said.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)