County officials expect to demolish another seven unfinished homes at the Estates of Boynton Waters, where residents have complained for more than a decade about conditions at the development west of Boynton Beach.
In December 2019, the county tore down five homes that had no roofs after the builder’s own report questioned whether they could survive a high-wind event. Another seven homes have deteriorated to the point where county officials have the same concerns, resulting in the county awarding a contract to a demolition company that is in the process of obtaining permits.
The Post began reporting on the plight of residents at the gated community three years ago. Residents called on the county to enforce its building codes after complaining that the unfinished homes at the development were detracting from their quality of life. Estates of Boynton Waters is located less than a mile north of Boynton Beach Boulevard on the west side of Jog Road.
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The builder, the late John Kennelly, experienced financial problems that resulted in him leaving homes in various stages of completion. For more than 10 years, residents have complained about the condition of the development and the lack of amenities that they were promised.
The HOA is now controlled by Kennelly’s son, John Jr., a lawyer. Kennelly owns a number of homes that he rents. He also owns a number of empty lots. Kennelly Jr.’s control of the HOA is a sore point with residents who expected the turnover to occur years ago. Normally, that takes place when a developer has sold 90% of the lots in the development. Estates at Boynton Waters consists of 140 lots; 34 of which are owned by the Kennelly affiliate, Estates at Boynton Waters West Corp.
Alan Hess, a longtime resident who has been pressing the county to act, said the latest homes scheduled for demolition, three on Cobia Drive and four on Pearch Lane, have significantly deteriorated to the degree that he fears they will not withstand a high-wind event.
Hess said he was pleased that more unfinished homes will soon be demolished but noted that the process takes way too long. “We are heading into another hurricane season,” he noted. “These homes needed to come down yesterday.”
Residents had expected the initial demolitions to occur in 2016, but Kennelly Sr., over their objections, was given an extra two years to either finish the homes or tear them down himself. When that did not happen, the county moved to tear down five of the homes it deemed to be in the most dangerous condition.
Building official Doug Wise acknowledged that the demolition process is cumbersome and lengthy but he noted that everything must be done carefully to make sure the law is followed.
“This is a high priority for us,” Wise said. “Some people do not think we are moving as quickly as we can but we really are.”
The homes expected to be demolished this year have tar-paper roofs that have been damaged by the elements and no windows or garages. Hess claims they are as unsafe as the ones that were torn down in 2019 that had no roofs.
While code enforcement has cited the builder for violations involving another dozen unfinished homes, Hess said the county should also be looking to tear down others as well.
“They have not had air or heat for several years,” Hess noted. “Imagine the amount of mold in those homes. And many of them have no interiors so there is no flooring or walls to anchor the home if we get hit with a hurricane.”
The county is expected to eventually recover the cost of the demolitions. It will place liens on the lots where the demolished homes once stood. That means that when the property is sold, the buyer will have to pay off the county lien to obtain clear title to the property.