Cocoa Beach Building Height Compromise

Roger Buchholtz

The Citizens and Businesses for Cocoa beach (CBCB) held an emergency meeting last week and was able to reach a consensus for building height in Cocoa Beach. At last evening’s Workshop at City Hall a consensus was reached that matched that which CBCB recommended. Preceding the workshop I talked with a major developer and told him the parameters of our compromise. He expressed his desire for a bit more than what we were offering. Then, the day before the Workshop, one of our members invited Commissioner Mike Miller and me to view the redevelopment taking place at the Wakula. We eventually began discussing our height compromise and Commissioner Miller replied that what we were proposing was what he planned to propose at the workshop.

Commissioner Miller did a good job of discussing the proposal and explaining it to the Workshop attendees, so when I spoke I just restated the parameters of our compromise. I also stated that we would campaign for its passage and against any proposal that allowed more height. I pointed out that neither side will really like the compromise, but that is what compromise is. Commissioner Skip Williams again explained his ballot proposal that will, now and in the future, grant developers the height necessary to comply with government mandated flood elevation regulations. It is likely that both proposals will be wrapped into one on the November ballot.


In essence, the 45′ has been retained. It will be measured from the “base flood elevation” (1′ above the FEMA established flood elevation). Mechanical equipment, elevator and roof access caps, roofs, etc. will be allowed above the 45′. This is likely to be restricted to 10′ maximum. The variance procedure will remain in the City Charter to review building height requests by developers that seek to exceed the proposed height limit.


Our objective for proposing a compromise was to bring an end to the community dividing feud that has existed in our city for 25 years. It is difficult for us to offer this compromise, and it will be difficult for the developers to accept it.


Our compromise is intended as a final settlement of this issue for our community. If in the future there is an attempt by any party for additional height or density outside of the variance procedure described in our City Charter, we will vigorously campaign to defeat such a proposal and to advocate once again to reimpose the today’s Charter language, thereby eliminating the allowance for flood elevation and roof and/or additions now being offered in our compromise proposal.


We caution that the matter is far from settled as we must wait for the exact language that the City Commission puts on the ballot. If it meets our criteria we will encourage the public to vote for the proposal. If it does not meet our criteria we will oppose it.


Yours in the cause of Cocoa Beach,


Roger Buchholtz




10 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Brian Costleigh May 31, 2018

    Now, was that very hard? Keep the restrictions with a little wiggle room and apply it to the new FEMA standards. Now you can readily get 4 stories or 3 stories and a garage beneath. If Tom Hermansen would have understood that you don’t insult 60% of the city’s homeowners by calling the structures including their homes “early concrete block” in a derogatory fashion, people may not be so annoyed with the developers. You can attract more bees with honey vs vinegar.

  2. Brian Costleigh May 31, 2018

    Or 5 stories (4 with a garage beneath) if you use 8 foot ceilings

  3. DOMINIC SCAFETTA May 31, 2018

    Nice work Roger. I am always concerned by compromises that leave both parties unhappy. Perhaps the right answer in this case is the will of the people??? Why should everyone be unhappy?

  4. Nora Highbarger May 31, 2018

    Thanks for your time spent on this. It seems like a good solution to an ongoing problem.
    I will definitely vote for it.

  5. c.b. May 31, 2018

    i believe that the people who have lived here for like “ever” have finally gotten the developers to hopefully go somewhere else. this is OUR community. So you have been here since the early 2000″s? who cares. We have been to this rodeo before. The community is what counts. if we are wrong we will all hang together and that is as a community what counts. I have to say the city is looking nicer. Now if we can only get someone to buy bernards surf area without putting in a bubba gump shrimp… one battle at a time folks. Love to all who have brought this about . Roger, Skip, Thank you. keeping the eye on the people . that is what is so lost but you stood up for what the people want and compromise . that is what is lacking in so many places. thank you again

    • long-time resident June 6, 2018

      Just want to add that when I invest in the stock market, the developers and everyone else do NOT guarantee that I make a profit. Similarly, the developers should not complain if we citizens do not guarantee that they make a profit and we limit the number of units to be built per square foot or acre. If their purchase price for the land is too high, then yes, they will suffer a loss.

  6. Bill Nutter June 1, 2018

    In the interest of avoiding potential lawsuits in the future, what happens if a building that is currently grandfathered in suffers catastrophic damage in a hurricane or other event necessitating that the building be demolished? Is the replacement building also grandfathered in or does the replacement have to comply with the height restriction? I think that this should probably be addressed in the compromise.

    • Tom October 19, 2018

      Hi Bill, the current city charter allows existing structures to be rebuilt to their original height and density above the Current FEMA flood elevation (plus one foot). So yes the current charter protects existing structures and provides allowances for changing flood elevations if required. So Question One does not provide anything new for existing structures. Do we really need more taller buildings. Vote no on CB Question One.

  7. Florida Native June 1, 2018

    So happy the people of Cocoa Beach are standing their ground on this one. Developers don’t care about communities They just want to make money and destroy the natural habitats that make Florida beautiful.

  8. Resident October 21, 2018

    Just to add some clarication, the amendment that ended up on the ballot as question One is not what what Commissioner Williams proposed as a compromise. Basically, it was modified to add another 10′ on the top and permits developers to now build above the flood elevations on their entire property if even a tiny portion (i.e. 1″) has a defined flood elevation. So it would allow some structures to be built above the flood elevation even if the structure isn’t located in an area with a defined flood elevation. To understand who is pushing so hard to get this approved you only need to look at the city website to see that developers have hired a marketing firm and spent $35,000 dollars to convince the residents this is a good thing. The recent fish kill along the beaches and the sorry state of our lagoon are why we don’t need any more tall buildings, I’m hoping the residents can pull together and vote No on Question One. Let’s save the character of our small town and vote no on one. We already have a great town, let’s keep it.

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