Next PB Gardens City Council this Thursday, April 2nd

The next City Council Meeting will be this Thursday, April 2nd at 7pm at City Hall.

Note that at the beginning of the agenda is the annual ‘Reorganization‘ with the Council voting for Mayor and Vice Mayor.  At the end of the meeting, during Items for Council Action/Discussion, the Council will discuss and vote on Extension of City Manager Contract a subject from last July and September meetings.

The Consent Agenda includes:

  • Purchase Award for $110K for aquatic vegetation and exotic species management service – openly bid.
  • Purchase award for Tires not to exceed $300K – piggyback award to Florida Sheriffs Association contract; has been doing so for many years

The Regular Agenda includes:

  • Ordinance 2, 2015 –  Second Reading: An amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014/15 budget
  • Ordinance 6, 2015 and companion Resolution 16, 2015 relates to expansion of the Mirasol Clubhouse and parking.
  • Resolution 15, 2015 is a purchase award to Wesco Turf for $378K for special golf course mowers and specialized turf equipment through an existing State contract.

Items for Council Action/Discussion also includes assigning Council member responsibilities for various internal and external boards.

The agenda (with links to full detail) can be found here.  Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting.

See a summary of the March Council Meeting as well as the latest two Martino Minutes (on the new logo and the Banyan Tree PUD vote) on the PBG Watch website.

We get the government we deserve – and it’s up to us to watch what they do.  Hope you can make it.  If you can’t make the meeting try and watch live-streaming or on-demand.

Palm Beach Post: Scripps opens door on land use

Martino: Forget About a New Logo and Solve Issues

From a Community Feature article in the Palm Beach Post on March 17th I learned that the City of Palm Beach Gardens “is out to freshen up its image” with a new website and a new logo. Does the City really need “a citywide rebranding” as the article suggests? I visited the City’s website as the article references to find out.

Lo and behold there they were two new logos “A” or “B”, both instigated by the PGA flyover bridge with its “iconic artwork Astralis”, affectionately referred to as the “Rusty Balls”. The website asks, “Which logo option do you prefer?” The City’s website information also suggests that the PGA Boulevard fly-over is “a major gateway into the City… connecting the people that live and work here… and “has become a symbol of our community.” Residents might take issue with those pronouncements.

As a 50 year resident of Palm Beach Gardens my choice for a new City logo is not displayed. If anyone cares, it is none of the above. Not many years ago the City Council, with some of the same present day members, voted for a logo change to the Banyan Tree logo of today. Does the City Council really want to uproot the Banyan Tree?

My questions for the City Council are…

* When did the City Council publicly discuss rebranding, a new website, and a new logo?

* What is the cost and where in the budget is the money allocated?

* Who designed the logos and who decided on the bridge?

My choice for the City Council is a simple one, forget about a new logo. Before “crossing the bridge to the future” as the City website suggests, how about solving some of the issues of today, such as, traffic congestion, new parks and recreational playing fields, waivers for developers, and transparency, to name a few of many.

Martino: Council Surrendered to the Developer on Res. 13

On March 5th, the one and only one monthly meeting of the City Council of Palm Beach Gardens was gaveled to order at 7:00 PM and adjourned at about 11:00 PM. For that one and only one monthly meeting of approximately four hours Gardens’ taxpayers paid the five part-time City Council members approximately $5000.00 each in salary and benefits.

The agenda was typical and far from strenuous. Of significance to me and the reason for my attendance were Resolution 13, 2015 and its associated Public Hearing. Resolution 13, 2015 concerned a development in my neighborhood.

In the way of background, Resolution 13, 2015 is/was a petition by a developer to change Phase 2 of an existing and presently approved 3-phase Planned Unit Development (PUD). Phase’s 1 and 3 have been built to completion. Phase 2 is currently approved for a mixed use professional office development of approximately 50,000 square feet on 3.87 acres which is consistent and compatible in uses to Phases 1 and 3. However, Phase 2 is not yet built. Resolution 13, 2015, as petitioned, is completely inconsistent and incompatible with Phases 1 and 3 of this already approved PUD. It proposed to change the currently approved professional office development to a 3-building extremely intense commercial development consisting of 29,216 square feet of which 19,016 square feet are devoted to high intensity restaurant uses and the balance to retail uses. In addition, the developer through Resolution 13, 2015 is/was petitioning for a Major Conditional Use change to allow a 1,000 square foot drive-through restaurant of unknown origin. The 3.87 acre parcel is bounded on the south by Northlake Boulevard, on the north by the Lake Catherine residential development, on the east by MacArthur Boulevard and Phase I of the originally approved PUD consisting of professional offices and a 5,000 square foot restaurant, and on the west by the Blood Bank professional office use complex which is Phase III of the approved PUD.

The City Council had two basic decisions to make; 1) approve or disapprove of the developer’s petition to change from the currently approved mixed use professional office development to a high intensity commercial mixed use development of restaurant and retail uses; 2) approve or disapprove a Major Conditional Use to allow a 1,000 square foot drive-through restaurant. Recognizing the fact that the Developer currently has approvals for Phase 2 of the approved PUD consisting of a mixed use professional office complex, in my opinion, the Developer had little to no legal standing to compel the City to approve his petition for the requested substantial use changes to the already approved Phase 2 office complex of the original PUD. Resolution 13, 2015 presented a challenge to the City Council. In voting to approve Resolution 13, 2015, I am sorry to say that in my opinion, the City Council failed to meet this test. The City Council surrendered the Public’s issues and concerns to the Developer’s interests and profit.

During the Resolution 13, 2015 Public Hearing, 15 to 20 people, of which I was one, spoke for the allotted three minutes. We stated for the record our very real concerns about this proposed petition by the Developer to change the uses of the approved Phase 2 PUD development and the effects these proposed changes would have on one of the older, more established neighborhoods of the City. In my opinion, the majority of the Public’s comments were rational, reasonable, and realistic, highlighting legitimate issues and causes of concern, many of which posed legal probabilities for denial of Resolution 13, 2015 and its associated petitions. The issues and questions raised by the Public concerned traffic, ingress and egress, access and circulation, a restaurant with drive-through, approved professional office uses versus proposed commercial restaurant and retail uses, orienting buildings closer to Northlake Boulevard, hours of operation from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, and waivers granted to the developer to allow the petition to succeed.

Upon closing the Public Hearing on Resolution 13, 2015, the Mayor and City Council began to deliberate among themselves, with the Developer and his representatives, and with the City Staff. Further participation by the Public was not allowed even though the Developer and his representatives were granted additional time and opportunity to market against the Public’s issues and concerns that were raised at the Public Hearing. From my perspective, the City Council’s questions and discussions missed the mark regarding the Public’s issues. Little, if any questions were raised by the City Council members’ concerning the high intensity of the commercial restaurant and retail uses that the developer was petitioning for. Traffic, internal and external circulation, building locations, ingress and egress, hours of operation from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, and waivers, received only cursory discussion by the City Council. The City Council voted 5 to 0 to approve Resolution 13, 2015 but removed the Major Conditional Use for a drive-through restaurant. However, in conjunction with the denial for the drive-through the City Council encouraged the Developer to return for approval of the drive-through once the Developer had an identifiable tenant. Why?

Resolution 13, 2015 was not merely a petition to amend an already approved and existing Planned Unit Development. This Resolution with its associated petitions was and is a wholesale change in uses completely inconsistent with the original approvals and incompatible with the other built-out Phases of the existing PUD. In my opinion, on this basis alone denial was the prudent and correct vote. However, denial was not to be the vote of this City Council.

I have no doubts that passage of this Resolution by this City Council has changed the character and integrity of this neighborhood in a negative way. Passage of this Resolution by this City Council has once again demonstrated its lack of depth for the true understanding of the health, safety, and welfare of the residents they were elected to represent. Passage of this Resolution by this City Council has and will have a chilling effect on the quality of life for this neighborhood and the entire City. But the Developer has been satisfied.

No Drive-through for Banyan Tree PUD… for now

Although last on the agenda, Resolution 13, 2015 garnered the most public comment – with many residents from Lake Catherine in attendance and 11 folks voicing their concerns with the developer’s plans for Banyan Tree PUD Phase II (aka Northlake Gardens) at the northwest corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Northlake.  Among the issues were traffic, noise, lighting, and safety for the children going to/fro the nearby schools. Along with the public comment, a petition signed by 182 of the home owners was submitted. Council member Levy spoke first and voiced his concern with the proposed drive-through for a small 1000 square foot business. The rest of the council joined in saying there was much to like about the proposed site plan but they too were uncomfortable with the drive-through. Both the developer and the owner asked that the drive-through be approved in order to enhance the ability to attract businesses for the rear building which would be all but invisible from view. They suggested that the council would have final approval of the lessee at a future date. The council disagreed and voted unanimously to approve the plan without the drive-through.  They would be open to future modifications (eg the drive through) after they know what the proposed business would be. Vote 5:0

March 5, 2015

Despite a request to bring Project Diamond (Resolution 14, 2015) to the Regular Agenda, it remained in Consent and economic incentives were passed without discussion.  See Where’ s the Sunshine?

Tom Cairnes, of the PGA Corridor, spoke on Ordinance 1, 2015 – disagreeing with the proposed regulations as not going far enough.  The Corridor believes that no human signage should be permitted in Palm Beach Gardens. The council replied by saying that currently there are no regulations in place, so that this is an improvement. Vote 5:0

The other two Ordinances – Ordinance 3, 2015 (gas station signage) and Ordinance 5, 2015 1st reading (10-year water supply facilities work plan) passed 5:0 as well.

Police Chief Stepp made his 2014 Police Department Summary Report – with outstanding statistics. Crime has been down for 3 years in a row and is at the lowest rate since 1987. Since many of the crimes are DUIs and shop-lifting, the likelihood of being a victim of crime in our city is very low. Frog-et Me Not continues to be an award-winning program. Read the excellent report here .

All on the council expressed their regret and condolences on the recent passing of North Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman and veteran, William Manuel.  A moment of silence was held.

Project Diamond added on Consent Agenda?

(correction – resolution is resolution 14, 2015 not resolution 15, 2015 – typo)

The next City Council Meeting will be tonight Thursday, March 5th at 7pm at City Hall.

Is United Technologies on Briger tract an appropriate subject for Consent Agenda?

Resolution 14, 2015 (read it here)  was added to the Consent Agenda sometime after my email on Monday.   Read the Post’s article entitled Sources: Firm eyes Gardens expansion.

“United Technologies is looking to buy property on the Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens to build a 280,000-square-foot office complex, where the Fortune 500 company plans to move a significant portion of its Carrier Air Conditioning and Otis Elevator subsidiaries into a regional headquarters, according to knowledgeable sources.

Palm Beach Gardens and Palm Beach County are poised to offer major incentives packages to secure the deal for the $115 million complex, which would employ 450 with an average minimum wage of $85,000. ”

By our calculations, approval of this resolution commits the city to over $5M over 10 years at the current combined millage rate of 5.8315 on a $115M project.  That consists of property tax forgiveness of $671K per year in the first 5 years and $335K in the next 5, in addition to the direct payment of the “jobs incentive” of $630K.

But  “Plans are to buy the site from Kolter Group, which owns the 681-acre Briger tract.  But there’s a hitch: The Briger land is one of a number of properties zoned for biotech development in northern Palm Beach County.

A source close to the deal said he believes a technology or headquarters use is permitted on the land. But Jim Mize, the chief assistant county attorney who led the team that wrote the covenants governing the tract, said that the 100 acres now controlled by Kolter are restricted to industries “directly supportive” of biotech research. That restriction doesn’t expire until at least 2021, Mize said Wednesday. ”

The agenda (with links to full detail) can be found here.  Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting (which certainly was the case today!)

Next City Council Meeting on Thursday, March 5th at 7pm

The next City Council Meeting will be this Thursday, March 5th at 7pm at City Hall.

The Consent Agenda includes:

  • A 5-year contract Purchase Award for Janitorial Services for Parks and Facilities, valued at $372,000.  5 vendors bid on the contract.
  • There will also be 3 Proclamations: National Public Procurement Month, Irish American Heritage Month and Ethics Awareness Month

The Regular Agenda includes:

  • Ordinance 1, 2015 is intended to amend sign code to regulate human signage.  This is Second Reading on the Ordinance which appears to be unchanged from first reading, limiting human signage to 2 consecutive days, 6 times per year.  (I encourage those of you who have not read the entire ordinance to do so since it covers rules on all signage from special events, and yard sales to political signage.)
  • Ordinance 2, 2015 – An amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014/15 budget to adjust fund balance carryovers to actual amounts; re-appropriate amounts committed from the FY 2013/2014 budget for outstanding purchase orders and open projects; and for other purposes.  Note the increase in reserves as stated:  “After the above transfers are made, the General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserves will total $5,918,310 in FY 2015, an increase of $3,254,199 from the originally adopted budget. Unassigned General Fund Reserves are unaffected, and will remain at $23,066,106.”
  • Ordinance 3, 2015 – creating specific signage requirements for gas stations in Palm Beach Gardens.  This is Second Reading.
  • Ordinance 5, 2015 – First Reading; Updates the 10-Year Water Supply Facilities Work Plan and confirms the availability of water for existing development, new development, and redevelopment at the time of the required Evaluation and Report required by the applicable statute; this should be consistent with the SFWMD’s Lower East Coast Regional Water Supply Plan and the 10-Year Water Supply Facility Plans of Seacoast Utility Authority and Palm Beach County.
  • Resolution 13, 2015 – amends the Banyan Tree Planned Unit Development (PUD) at the northwest corner of MacArthur Blvd and Northlake Blvd to allow for three single-story retail/restaurant buildings, one of which would have a drive-thru.  There are some opponents to this modification from the adjoining Lake Catherine neighborhood – as described here.

The agenda (with links to full detail) can be found here.  Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting.

See a summary of the February City Council Meeting as well as the All Aboard Florida Workshop on the PBG Watch website.


Some Answers, More Questions About Freight at AAF Workshop

Tony Doris, of the Palm Beach Post summarized  key topics from the All Aboard Florida Special Workshop held on Thursday, February 26th here.

February 26, 2015

Most in the audience appeared to be as skeptical as were the council members.  If you weren’t able to attend or watch, the video has already been posted.

Part of the discussion circled around what would or would not be paid for by AAF with respect to crossing improvements, and the costs for maintenance after the fact.   AAF said that the City would have to apply for Quiet Zones from the federal government before AAF could give them an estimate of the tehnical improvement delta (if any) between ‘Sealed Corridors’ (which AAF would cover) versus Quiet Zones – which they would not.  AAF was firm that maintenance costs would be performed by the City, under existing contracts with FEC.  But there were no estimates of whether those would be lower (due to improved crossings) or higher (due to much more elaborate crossings).   So questions remain.

Nor would AAF say what their fare estimates would be yet.

Additionally – AAF intends to market point to point travel to consumers – eg arrange for pickup at a location, deliver the rider to the train, and then provide for transportation to their final destination.  The rider would not have to worry about finding transportation to/from the train.  Also – they expect the final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to be out shortly.

AAF made it clear that answers about freight would have to come from their ‘sister’ company, and increased freight traffic would be accommodated by either longer trains or stacked cars.  Answers would have to come, if any, from a workshop with the freight part of the company.