Riviera group turns in Ocean Mall petition

RIVIERA BEACH A group of residents on Friday submitted thousands of signatures to the city with the hopes of curbing development plans at Singer Island's Ocean Mall.

The signatures were then delivered to the county's supervisor of elections office.

The group's goals: Repeal or reconsider a city council vote last month to lease the Ocean Mall land, which has public beach access, to a group led by developer Dan Catalfumo; schedule a March referendum that would amend the city's charter to restrict the use of public land for tourism or recreation uses, while limiting the length of leases to 50 years; and have another ballot question that would limit Ocean Mall development to five stories in height.

City council members, acting as the community redevelopment agency, voted last month to give Catalfumo's group a 99-year lease to develop on the Ocean Mall property, a project that includes a 28-story Marriott hotel and condo.

"I think history was made today in Riviera Beach," said Dawn Pardo, chairwoman of the petition committee. "This is the first time a citizen's initiative was put forth and we did it."

The first petition to repeal the city council's ordinance garnered 4,016 signatures, Pardo said. The second, to limit what gets built on Ocean Mall, collected 3,234 signatures. The petition to limit development to five stories had 3,298 signatures. Those numbers meet the threshold of registered voters needed for a petition to be approved. Pardo estimated that two-thirds of the signatures came from residents of the city's west side.

The elections office and city clerk now must validate the signatures.