One neighborhood vows to sue as Palm Beach Gardens pursues annexation of 8,300 residents on 1,300 acres east of Interstate 95.
They came to Palm Beach Gardens City Hall roughly 200 strong Thursday to speak against annexation.
Most left without hearing the City Council’s response.
They would have been disappointed.
The council countered neighbors’ statements, saying there was no reason for hostility or panic and the city had no hidden agenda.
Also, the annexation proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise, council members asserted, as there have been talks about annexation for decades.
Continue reading “Despite opposition, annexation passes first test toward March referendum”
Private ownership, dispute over value jeopardizes county’s ability to salvage untouched properties on Martin County border.
When Palm Beach County set out to buy land in the north county wetlands known as Pal-Mar, two appraisers hired by the county independently reached the same conclusion about the land’s value: $25,000 per acre.
The county didn’t want to pay that much.
“I need your help,” county Project Manager Ben Williamson wrote to both appraisers in June 2022. “Consider a downward adjustment.”
The appraisers did what the county asked.
To county officials, intent on buying as much land as possible with $4 million in federal money, telling its appraisers to consider other recent land sales seemed a justifiable adjustment, a “common practice,” as one official said.
To landowners who want top dollar for their land, the county’s rejection of its first appraisal mars its credibility. The appraisers didn’t work with new information when they lowered the values by about 40 percent, the landowners said. The only thing that changed, is that the appraisers relied on nearby sales that they initially had rejected.
The clash raises questions about just how far the county can go to get the best deal for taxpayers — even if it comes at the expense of landowners, many of them out-of-state residents whose families paid little for the land decades ago.
And it underlines the flaws inherent in the appraisal process, flaws that captured national attention when unrealistic valuations laid the groundwork for the nation’s 2008 housing bust.
At risk is the county’s ability to buy and preserve hundreds of privately owned acres in northern Palm Beach County, where wetlands have flourished as the county has fended off development since the 1970s.
Continue reading “Wetlands in peril: County in bidding war for Pal-Mar preserves”
Riviera Beach City Council voted 3-2 to move boatyard expansion forward but now a 4-1 vote is required.
A city measure that empowers neighbors is setting up a Sept. 6 showdown between a multimillion-dollar superyacht repair yard and homeowners in Riviera Beach.
Expansion of the Safe Harbor Rybovich boatyard, where some of the world’s most expensive yachts go for dry dock repairs, hangs in the balance.
Continue reading “Boatyard showdown: Safe Harbor Rybovich expansion depends on change of heart”
City’s recent annexation flowed from a massive annexation more than 30 years ago.
With last week’s Palm Beach Gardens City Council vote finalizing the decision to annex 300 acres along Northlake Boulevard, we look back on how Palm Beach Gardens spread so far west in the first place, a story first told on the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society Facebook page.
What is now Avenir and the Sandhill Crane Golf Club came into the city in a 5,638-acre annexation in March 1991.
The biggest piece was the 4,763-acre ranch owned by Charlie Vavrus, who at the time proposed a city for 42,000 residents. That land is now called Avenir, approved in 2016 for nearly 4,000 homes. And they’re rising rapidly.
Continue reading “How Palm Beach Gardens reached so far west”
Backers say move harms effort to form new village: ‘They’re basically grabbing all the commercial property.’
To Palm Beach Gardens leaders, it’s a natural step, squaring off the city’s western boundary by adding 300 acres of valuable property to the tax rolls.
To the residents who want to create a city in The Acreage, it is a near-death blow.
Continue reading “Gardens 300-acre land grab riles Acreage”
Palm Beach County drops road widening options for western section of Northlake Boulevard despite anticipated rise in traffic from large new communities.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, the original story published Feb. 3, 2023, incorrectly attributed to Palm Beach Gardens City Attorney Max Lohman comments from the audience at the Jan. 13, 2023, Planning Commission meeting. The comments were made by Avenir attorney Brian Seymour, not Mr. Lohman. The story has been updated as of Feb. 5, 2023, to remove the incorrect information.
Palm Beach County planners and engineers, girding for construction of thousands of homes, are certain that sometime in the next 10 years traffic will dictate the eight-laning of parts of Northlake Boulevard.
Residents of the western gated communities in Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach are equally certain an eight-lane road outside their neighborhoods would be a disaster, eliminating slow-down lanes, decorative entryways and lush landscaping to make way for a dangerous speedway.
On Wednesday, the residents won.
Continue reading “No speedway here: Residents win fight to block eight-laning of Northlake”
Final vote upcoming on proposal to raise threshold for Palm Beach Gardens City Council review of contracts to $1.18 million from $65,000.
The Palm Beach Gardens City Council is on the verge of giving its city manager far more purchasing power than other top administrators in the county.
The proposal backed in October on first reading by the council would empower City Manager Ron Ferris to approve contracts for goods and services worth $1.18 million without council review, up from $65,000.
Palm Beach County’s threshold is $200,000. In Jupiter, it’s $50,000. In Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, it’s $100,000. Delray Beach is $65,000.
Continue reading “Power of the purse: Gardens council to give city manager more control”
At stake: Who controls money developers pay for road improvements, Palm Beach Gardens or Palm Beach County?
An appellate court has rejected Palm Beach Gardens’ arguments in its fight with Palm Beach County over how to pay for growth from new development.
The ruling forces the city to resume collecting impact fees from developers for the county, which decides how to spend the money.
It imperils the city’s new mobility fee program, which was designed to collect money from developers for projects determined by the city.
Continue reading “Appellate ruling favors county over Gardens on road-building“
‘Not one dollar … will go up north,’ UF board chair Mori Hosseini says; aim is to raise $1 billion over 10 years.
When Dr. Herbert Wertheim was a young engineer working for NASA in the 1960s, he saw miracles take flight.
Now he’s a billionaire who just gave $100 million to the University of Florida. And he sees Jupiter as the next Cape Canaveral.
“We have what I call ‘sciencenauts,’” he told dignitaries and scientists gathered Oct. 12 at the UF Scripps campus in Abacoa. “They’re going to help us solve health-care problems, not only when you’re sick, but my number one emphasis has been how do we keep people well.
“So let’s think about Jupiter as a launch pad like we think of Cape Canaveral. And this is gonna be a launch pad for science.”
Continue reading “‘A launch pad for science:’ Wertheim’s $100 million gift to ignite UF Scripps”
Palm Beach International Raceway owners seek County Commission’s blessing on Jan. 11 for updated 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse plan.
The conversion of a beloved local raceway to warehouses is back on track after the property owners eliminated a major hurdle that forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop in April.
The owners of the shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway west of Jupiter are moving forward on their own, without construction giant Portman Industrial, which pitched a 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse development before angry racing fans packed a meeting April 7 to block it.
Continue reading “Proposal paves way for warehouses at former racetrack”