Sober Homes Presentation Fills the Council Chambers

NOTE: There will be a second November City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 16th.

The Council Chambers were packed at the Nov 3rd City Council meeting with citizens from primarily the Plat 1 area of Palm Beach Gardens impacted by Sober Homes in their community. City Attorney Max Lohman presented a review of the current definitions, statutes/laws and limitations on local community actions with respect to Sober Homes. His presentation can be viewed here (starting at minute 14:30); you can read a copy of the Powerpoint presentation here (you will need software that can open a Powerpoint file). Sarah Peters of the Palm Beach Post covers the Sober Home discussion.  Those making public comment expressed their frustrations as well as dismay at how such rentals were not considered commercial endeavors in residential areas.

November 3, 2016

The Council began with a presentation honoring former Mayor/Council Member David Levy for his twelve years of service to the City. He was presented with a plaque as well as a crystal gavel and made touching remarks as well.

City Manager Ferris requested that the presentation portion of the Council discussion on the Central Blvd/I-95 interchange be brought to the front of the meeting while the chambers were full. In short, the interchange hs been 18 years in the making. Development orders required a right of way for all impacted subdivisions and new residents had to be informed about the potential interchange. Alton, FPL, Paloma and Cimmaron Cove were all considered in the studies. Staff concluded that they recommended approval as is. During Public Comment which preceded the presentation Elissa Cohen, President of the Paloma HOA, Sandra Abraham also of Paloma and Dave Rebholz of Old Palm all expressed support for a new traffic study, or to put the project on hold. Don Mathis suggested that it’s the PGA/I-95 PGA interchange needed to be factored more into the plans. The Council, when discussing the topic towards the end of the agenda, praised Andrea Troutman, consultant from Pinder Troutman Consulting, the traffic engineer for Palm Beach Gardens, on her clear explanations of the studies and status of the I95/Central Blvd interchange. The Council had several questions for staff which were addressed. In related discussion, FDOT will be having “An Alternatives Public Workshop will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Palm Beach Gardens, 4000 RCA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.” about the Northlake/I-95 interchange. For more details see

All Ordinances and resolutions passed 5:0. Other comments made by the public included Jervonte Edmonds of Suits for Seniors, thanking Council Member Marino, plus a member of the City’s Police department for speaking at his Career Day; Kevin Dalton, who owns 3 business in Palm Beach Gardens, suggesting that Central Blvd be renamed for either Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus. (Council replied that Central is a County road). Mr. Dalton also said that he has employed people from 1/2 way homes (eg Sober Homes) and they do have to hand in their cell phone when having their group meetings so perhaps those meetings could be considered ‘treatment’ – which is forbidden in Sober Homes.

Council, during items of Resident Interest and Board/Committee reports commended staff on their outstanding preparation for Hurricane Matthew.

Update: Second Budget Hearing on 9/22 Increased Ad-Valorem Revenue 8.3% and Changed Impact Fees

Update – All Items in the 2nd Hearing and City Council Meeting on 9/22 passed 5:0.  Public Comment on a non-agenda item was made by Mary Ott regarding the City’s towing contract and her filed protest.

September 22, 2016

Mayor Tinsley remarked that City Attorney Lohman will be responding to the protest, following protocol.

The first of two 2016/2017 Budget Hearings was held on 9/8. Most in the audience, however, were there for the presentations of the 9/11 Remembrance Essay Recipient and the Sandhill Crane Juniors Golf Team – Winners of the SFPGA Summer League.  Congratulations all!

City Manager Ferris announced more awards for the one-man Purchasing Department – 2016 Excellence in Procurement award and UPPCC award for Km! Ra – Congratulations! Ferris also showed an animated video of the traffic on 117th Ct – comparing traffic on 8/17/15 vs 8/17/16 highlighting the City’s improvements.

September 8, 2016

Public Comment included:

  • Mark Marciano complementing the City’s sports fields and requesting higher fencing at Gardens Park.
  • Jervonte Edmonds of Delray Beach speaking about his innovative non-profit Suits for Seniors – preparing HS Seniors on proper behavior and tips for job interviews. After an 8 week program, Seniors get a nice fitted suit for their job interviews. He currently has a program in Dwyer HS and was asking the Council to participate in Career Day.
  • Joe Russo congratulated Keith Bryer on his appointment to Fire Chief.

The Consent Agenda passed 5:0

The first hearing of both the 2016/2017 Proposed Budget and the total Impact Fee Revision passed 5:0. The only public comment was by Fred and Iris Scheibl on the budget – pointing out that this is an 8.3% ad-valorem revenue increase, that this will hit non-homestead properties very hard, and to please consider splitting the difference and giving some relief to the tax-payers. Joni Alias had not planned to speak, but felt she had to counter the comments by the Scheibls, in support of the tax increase. See here for a short article on the increase.

All on the Council supported the budget as did the Budget Oversight Committee. Council Member Premuroso, who also advised the Budget Oversight Committee, spoke about the strategy during the hard times, and the current strategy of 5 years of flat millage based on revenue projections. He did not mention, however, that the Ad Valorem revenue expected in 2017 is significantly higher than projected, and almost matches the ad-valorem taxes projected for 2018…  The following chart is from page 51 of the Fiscal Year 2015/2016 Budget


The second hearing for the Proposed Budget and the Impact Fee Revisions will be held on September 22 at 7pm. See the agenda here for any changes. Expect it to be a short meeting. The Consent Agenda includes one Purchase Award for a 3-yr contract/lease for a fleet of golf carts with GPS for Sandhill Crane Golf Club. The item was competitively bid and is valued at $330K.

NOTE: There will be an FDOT Hearing on the Central Boulevard I-95 Interchange on Wednesday, September 28th at City Hall.  See the Notice.

Carl Woods Takes His Seat on the City Council

The ‘new’ Council was finally complete, 5 months after the Municipal Elections. Council Member Woods, while sworn in a couple of weeks ago, formally took the Oath of Office at the beginning of the meeting and made a short, heartfelt and humorous statement.

EMS Division Chief James Ippolito described, and others spoke about the City, first in Palm Beach County, receiving the American Heart Association 2016 Mission Lifeline EMS Gold Award. Kudos to Fire/Rescue.

All Public Hearings/Resolutions and the Consent Agenda passed 5:0, with discussion on two Consent Items:

  • Resolution 60, 2016, approving the crossing agreement with the City, FEC and All Aboard Florida (AAF), was described by the City Attorney. Changes to the existing agreement primarily was caused by the addition of AAF, and the construction/maintenance entailed by the addition of a 2nd track.
  • Resident Vito DeFrancesco expressed concern with wording in the Settlement Agreement Alexander V. The City of Palm Beach Gardens, Et. Al.,  which sounded like the agreement was not being publicly recorded and thus avoiding Freedom of Information requests. City Attorney Lohman replied that the entire text of the settlement was in the City’s records (and in the agenda details) and that the wording of the phrase which concerned Mr. DeFrancesco, was commonly used to mean that private suits are not recorded with the County Clerk.**
August 4, 2016

Comments from the Public resulted in the most discussion:

  • Sid Dinerstein, of the Palm Beach County Term Limits Committee, and initiator of the lawsuit challenging David Levy’s eligibility for office, challenged the new Council to resolve and take two votes that night:
    1) Get the people’s money back from the City Attorney for the Term Limits lawsuit
    2) Start paying for the Inspector General
    City Manager Ferris replied, during his report, that the City Attorney acted at the behest of the City. He did not address the IG Lawsuit. Nor did the Council pursue either subject later in the meeting.
  • Cynthia Medley, raised an issue regarding construction of the new City Park. Her property is adjacent to the park and construction has made lights fall in her kitchen, construction seems to be happening on the weekend as well.
  • Shady Lakes was the topic for Kathy Beamer and Jeff Hiscock. Ms. Beamer stated that the construction contract for the 3 parts of the project was issued in November, 2015 – several months before the plans were approved, and that her FOIA requests went unanswered on the contract. She also pointed out that each of the 3 portions of the project came in under $2 million, which is the point at which a project must go out for public bid. Was that to avoid public scrutiny? Beamer also asked once again that the 117th project be completed before starting Shady Lakes, and re-assess. Mr. Hiscock also added, ‘why the rush?’ – delay the Shady Lakes construction until next year and re-visit the vote when the new council is seated. (Note – 3 seats are up for election in the March 2017 Municipal Election). The subject resulted in immediate responses from Mayor Tinsley, Mr. Ferris and Mr. Lohman – each pointing out different aspects of the project including:
    • Fire/Rescue need for second entry
    • Shady Lakes tied into agreement for 117th with School Board
    • Traffic reassessment still resulted in need for the Shady Lakes component
    • Access to the City Park/Tennis Center via Shady Lakes Drive is both shorter and avoids the schools
    • The project was voted on over a year ago, each part having separate Council votes with estimates under $2 million.

At this point, Comments from the Public resumed. Other Comments made before and after the Shady Lakes ‘interruption’ include:

  • Resident Vito DeFrancesco pointed out that Mr. Woods should have been seated in March, and was denied so due to a misinterpretation by staff of the Charter. He also said that all votes taken since March should be reworked. (Note – since the Council has voted unanimously 4:0 or 5:0 on all items since that time – no different outcome would have resulted – although clearly had Council Member Woods had a strong argument differing with those votes, he could have swayed the remainder of the Council, changing the results.)
  • Barbara McQuinn (candidate for School Board District 1) and Tony Bennett (Candidate for County Commission District 1) both introduced themselves.
  • Tom Murphy, President of the PBG Police Foundation, reminded the public that the deadline for the 9/11 essay contest is coming up. See details here.
  • Michael Marsh, of Vero Beach – who has spoken several times on his friend Corey Jones as well as use of body cameras, thanked the City for how fast it implemented the cameras and changed Policy and Procedures.
  • Troy McDonald, on the Council of Stuart, came to congratulate Mr. Woods and to offer advice on attaining public office.
  • Barbara Grossman read parts of a letter she had sent to the Council detailing safety issues with All Aboard Florida.

During Items for Council Action/Discussion – Mayor Tinsley asked that there be a Proclamation drafted to honor and thank former Mayor and Councilman David Levy at the next Council meeting in September. All were in agreement.

**PBGWatch has a different issue with the Settlement between Mr. Alexander, Avenir and the City. Mr. Alexander is NOT a resident of Palm Beach Gardens. He lives in IBIS. So should a Charter Review Committee be assembled, our position is that it should consist of Residents of the City. We will raise the issue when the subject arises before the Council in the future.


Subdued Council Passes All Items 4:0 and Showers City Manager Ferris with Praise

Much of the discussion during the July Council Meeting centered on subjects not originally on the agenda. All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 4:0 with the result that:

  • Property tax revenue will increase by 6% if millage is not lowered during the September Budget hearings. Maximum millage is set during July meetings throughout the state. The only usual proponent of lowering millage on the Council, Council Member Premuroso, stated that he saw no way to lower millage in the fall given upcoming Police and Fire/Rescue contracts, and city growth. He also said that the goal should be to continue to maintain flat millage. (Note – this means that as property valuations increase, your property taxes will go up accordingly – at differing rates depending on whether or not you own a homesteaded property). Save the date – September 8, 2016 at 7pm for the first 2016/2017 Budget Hearing.
  • PGA Station PUD amendments were approved. See a summary in Sarah Peters’ article here.
  • Resolution 52, 2016 – added to the Agenda at the meeting, allows for the City to call a Special Election concurrent with the November 8, 2016 General Election. This is a place holder should Circuit Court Judge Colin find for the City in the Levy/Woods Litigation conclusion within the next couple of weeks. The August City Council meeting would be too late to open candidate qualification. Should the judge seat Carl Woods, then the Council would withdraw Resolution 52 in August.  More detail below.
July 8, 2016

Mayor Tinsley began the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub attack. She then brought up former Mayor/Council Member Levy’s resignation and read his resignation letter. She brought forward the City Attorney report to the beginning of the Agenda, so that Mr. Lohman could describe briefly the litigation time-table, enforcement of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the Charter’s Term Limits retro-activity and Levy’s ineligibility to have run for office. Resolution 52, 2016 was added to the agenda. More detail here .  (NOTE:  PBGWatch was present at the most recent hearing – it is Max Lohman, on behalf of the City, that is arguing for a Special Election – otherwise Judge Colin would not be considering it.  We recommend that the Council read the transcript obtained by their attorney, and here is our summary of that hearing).

Presentations included Recognition of the City’s Spirit Team, and the  Sponsors of the Gardens Cup, which raises funds that are used to put on morale raising events for City Staff.

Comments From the Public included:

  • Tom Cairnes, of the PGA Corridor Association thanked David Levy for his contributions to the City, especially in all things environmental. He also hoped that the citizens wouldn’t end up regretting their actions comparing the term limits vote in 2014 to Brexit.
  • Ross Wilcox and William Papageorge, both residents living on Gardens Glen Circle, raised a Code Enforcement issue with a vehicle with trailer parking on the city street at all times. Mayor Tinsley and City Manager Ferris were reviewing the problem.
  • Carol Courtney of 40th Terrace N. cited concerns with how the City implemented the Sunset Dr/40th Terrace improvements without respect for environmental impacts.
  • Kevin Easton and Marilyn Parmet both asked that Resolution 52, 2016 not be voted on, that there not be a Special Election (ranging in costs up to $80K) and that Carl Woods be declared the winner of the March election.

Mr. Ferris began his City Manager Report by implying that the two residents didn’t understand that Resolution 52 was just a placeholder and that the Special Election would only cost $15K. (editor’s note – he was not understanding that they were saying the Council could end the need for such an election by seating Mr. Woods!)

Also included in the Mr. Ferris’ upbeat report was:

  • Well earned recognition for Km! Ra, Purchasing and Contracts Director, for a prestigious Excellence in Achievement Award for the 3rd year in a row. As Mr. Ra IS the Purchasing Department – he achieved a round of applause!
  • Congratulations to the City’s Police Explorers who one 1st place in the 2016 Law Enforcement Challenge for the 3rd year in a row.
  • Thanks to the Police Foundation for donating 40 infrared thermometers which can be used to detect temperature in parked vehicles.
  • Recognition by the City by interim Fire Chief Keith Breyer and the City to Juan Nunez, lifeguard at the Recreation Center for saving a toddler unresponsive in the swimming pool – see Lifeguard Receives Hero Award for more details.
  • The Chief also Recognized Km! Ra once again – this time for getting a $43K FEMA grant for 120 Personal Safety/Rescue Bailout System for the Fire Department.

During Items for Council Discussion, the Council did their annual City Manager Evaluation. It also happened to be Mr. Ferris’ birthday. He couldn’t have asked for a better present than the effusive praise, minimal critique if any, and the standing ovation given him by the Council and his staff….

Fire Station 4 to be ‘Fully’ Staffed due to Upcoming Hood Rd Closure

The June 2nd City Council Meeting, with four council members present (Ms. Marino absent), began with recognition of Sherri Pla as PGA Southeast Chapter Youth Golf Development Professional of the year. Next was to be the 2015 Audit Report – but the presenter was delayed and so City Manager Ferris was asked to give his report.

Of impact to City residents: Hood Road at the Turnpike will be closed very soon for a period of 60-120 days, in order to replace the bridge. Fire Station 5 (aka 65) is a backup to Fire Station 4 (aka 64) (which has been the subject of public comment for several months) and access to Mirasol would be impacted by the closure. The City will temporarily staff Station 4 to full capacity for 120 days, using over-time. City Manager Ferris said that data collected during the closure, plus the outside study commissioned to review Fire/Rescue current and future needs, will be timely and sufficient to determine staffing proposals for the 2016/2017 Budget cycle.

June 2, 2016

During Items for Council Action/Discussion towards the end of the meeting, the council voted 3:1 against supporting the Infrastructure Sales Tax. Vice Mayor Jablin reiterated his position from the first vote held a couple of months ago, that the sales tax increase was regressive. Council Member Premuroso also re-stated that the County should be able to handle this through their existing budget or via bonds and that the School Board solutions should be separate. Mayor Tinsley stated that since the County, if millage is held flat, would be gaining $48 million in extra revenue, there should not be a sales tax increase. Council Member Levy voted for supporting the sales tax, since the Cultural Council/Economic development component had been removed from the proposal. All agreed that despite their nay vote the referendum would be on the ballot in November. Also discussed was the probable incorporation vote of Westlake  (formerly Callery Judge Groves) by its four residents purportedly to over-ride density limits currently imposed by the County. While it wasn’t clear that anything could be done, the Council voted 4:0 to oppose the incorporation and to have the Mayor write a letter taking that position.

Also of resident interest, City Attorney Lohman reported on the status of the Election Run-off (see judge ruling details here) and recommended that the City join in David Levy’s appeal, along with the Supervisor of Elections. His rationale was that the City was involved already due to the City Clerk being named in the suit, as well as already being obligated to pay the SOE’s legal fees. Council Member Levy recused himself, and the remaining members voted 3:0 to join the suit.

Public Comment included:

  • Mami Kisner, thanked the Council, City Manager and Police Chief for their accessibility, and responsiveness to Corey Jones’ family and community.
  • A resident concerned about illegal drug sales occurring in a neighborhood in the area NE of Northlake/Military Trail. Both the City Manager and Chief Stepp seemed very surprised by the information and referred the resident to Asst. Chief Shannon at the back of the room.
  • Abbey Baker, Matt Baker, Craig Goldenfarb and Ron Kaplan of Mirasol all spoke on Station 4 staffing, and response time issues.
  • Kathy Beamer, of Shady Lakes, requested that improvements be made to 117th Ct first, then redo the traffic study, prior to modifying Shady Lakes Drive. She stated that the residents’ trust had been breached by no providing a wall, a berm or any real noise abatement in the most recent proposal.
  • Tom Cairnes and Steve Mathison, both of the PGA Corridor Association spoke, with Mr. Mathison specifically appreciating their inclusion in the current review of the Impact Fee process.

The Consent Agenda, Ordinance 5, 2016 and the other 3 Resolutions on the Agenda passed 4:0.

Progress on 117th Ct, Quiet Zones and Avenir Approval with Undercurrent of Distrust on Other Issues

The Council Meeting was kicked off by a 7 year old ‘Mayor for the Day’ who led the Council in the Pledge of Allegiance.


  • All Aboard Florida Quiet ZonesCity Engineer Todd Engle said that the City has 6 crossings, and the majority of the improvements will be to install more exit gates. The Council was pleased with the progress, especially after many years of seeking quiet zones for the FEC trains through the City.
  • 117th Street Ct N Conveyance
    • City has been trying to acquire the right of way since 1994
    • After approval by the City, the documents will go to School Board for approval in June.
    • Have to coordinate design and construction with School Board and has to be completed within 18 months, with the objective to improve the traffic pattern for the two schools and provide a dedicated lane direct to City Park.
    • Estimated cost 2.2 million. Mayor Tinsley pointed out that there may be an opportunity to get Federal funds (after the design is completed) to offset some of the expenditure.
    • Construction begins as soon as deed is processed- potentially early June and all road work will done before school starts
May 5, 2016

Public Comment:

  • Corey Jones Shooting – Michael Marsh of Vero Beach pleased with the responses by the City and pending implementation of body cams
  • Shady Lakes Expansion – Three residents (Israel Balderas, Kathy Beamer and Barry Mendelewisc) spoke on various aspects of the proposal.  Given the progress on 117th Ct N – why not wait until that plays out before implementing the Shady Lakes Expansion which the residents don’t want.  Request for another meeting with residents on both the 117th Ct N plans and updated plans for Shady Lakes – especially since berms and noise abatement still seems insufficient.
  • 10 Acre Congregate Living Facility (CLF) on Northlake Blvd – Matthew Kamula, resident and HOA President of Osprey Isles brought to the Council’s attention plans for a ‘sober home on steroids’ (by Council Member Levy).  This would be a 125 bed drug/alcohol detox and rehabilitation center.  While the property is not in the City Limits, it is right next to the City, and adjoining/nearby subdivisions were not informed nor their positions sought on its development, prior to County approvals.  In later Council discussion, the Council asked staff and City Manager Ferris to look into it and make sure the City’s position is known and presented.
  • PGA Blvd Bicycle and Traffic SafetyJoe R Russo mentioned Sarah Peter’s article on problems on PGA Blvd, discussed recent accidents and recommended that PGA Blvd be reevaluated for bike and pedestrian traffic, asking the Council to bring the issues to FDOT’s attention.
  • Fire Station 64 – several residents spoke, led off by Abbey and Matt Baker – about the continued delays in increasing staffing in station 64.  The perception was that the City just didn’t want to spend the money, was putting residents at risk, and was just using the out-sourced study to delay action.   City Manager Ferris, responding during the City Manager’s Report, said that there are so many issues with station 64 staffing. The city has never put anyone’s life in jeopardy. Based on level of calls budget decisions were  made. Call volume has not warranted adding staffing back in. The City increased staffing at station 65 and relies on 65 to augment 64.  The primary issue remains being geography – adding 2 to the staff won’t speed things up.  Perhaps the station and others are in the wrong place? Perhaps with Avenir and Alton and new ALFs, other changes need to be made. So the evaluation and study needs to be done.  It’s not all about money – it’s about justifying expenditures. It is his responsibility to justify what he’s doing to the Council.  He needs a plan and a strategy. There is no evidence of a lack of level of service problem – evidence of success. There is a city-wide response system for  both the fire/rescue and police dept.  Council Member Levy expressed concern about the growing level of perception of a problem by the residents.  Mayor Tinsley described accolades received by the fire/rescue and police departments.  Council Member Marino asked the residents for patience.
  •  And at least three references were made to what was perceived as an arrogant and  inappropriate Letter to the Editor in the Palm Beach Post written by a Council Member criticizing the positions of a resident.  The residents also mentioned the Council and staff’s arrogant and condescending attitude towards residents who disagree with them.

Public Hearings

  • Site plan approval for Alton Recreation and Fitness Facility – approved 5:0
  • Avenir Ordinances and Resolution – approved 5:0 Summarized in this article in the Palm Beach Post.  The majority of those speaking had spoken in the past in support of the project.  There were also several comment cards placed in the public record.

City Attorney Report

  • Max Lohman mentioned that there were multiple lawsuits underway but since he had already discussed status with the Council 1:1 there was no point in giving a report. (Editorial Comment – THIS IS NOT TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT – while Mr. Lohman may not want to go into the details and positions – he owes it to the Residents of the City to be aware of lawsuits. The Council should have admonished his comment and request that he give a brief summary to the residents. WE PAY HIS FEES!)

Go for Easy or Solve the Problem?

Residents in the Shady Lakes and surrounding subdivisions have raised concerns about plans for the Shady Lakes Drive Extension for a long time. They have submitted petitions, come to Council meetings and spoken in an organized fashion, and proposed alternatives. Last night’s special City Council Meeting began with a presentation of conceptual proposals for the road in Phase 1 and Phase 2 along with attractive landscaping proposals, followed by Public Comment. Of the roughly 30 folks who spoke, 23 spoke against or had major questions about the implementation. Citizen questions were followed by responses by the staff/consultants. And finally, the Council took a vote on Vice Mayor Jablin’s proposal to proceed with Phase 1 construction and authorize the City Manager to pursue the Phase 2 components addressing aspects of the PGA/Shady Lakes Drive intersection, voting 3:1 with Council Member Premuroso opposed and David Levy absent.

April 20, 2016

Premuroso, during Council discussion, had suggested that his preference was to focus on solving the 117th Court issues prior to doing anything with Shady Lakes, and then determining what should be done with that later. Most residents in Shady Lakes would probably have agreed with that.   See Sarah Peter’s article  on the meeting in the Palm Beach Post here.

One should ask – what problem is being solved? And does the approved portion of the project solve it? Editorializing, if the problem was Central Blvd/117th Ct traffic issues and Safety, then does the Shady Lakes Extension solve that issue? Or was it just the easiest thing to approve because the road is entirely owned by Palm Beach Gardens, and the City has budgeted for it already and everyone involved (staff/consultants) are eager to make progress? Whereas getting FDOT/County/School Board issues resolved in fixing traffic management will be a much longer process and difficult. Time will tell….

See the Shady Lakes plans on the City of Palm Beach Gardens website.

Special City Council Meeting on Shady Lakes Expansion on Wed. 4/20

There will a Special City Council Meeting on Wednesday, April 20th on the Shady Lakes Expansion.  Plans will be on display from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Presentation will be at 7:00 p.m. followed by questions from the public.

New Mayor Marcie Tinsley Leads Smooth Transition

NOTE: There will be a Special City Council Meeting on Shady Lakes Extension on Wed. 4/20 at 7PM.  Plans will be on display at 6pm

The April City Council meeting commenced with the Results of the Election, heartfelt goodbyes to Joe Russo (who was awarded a beautiful crystal gavel, as well as some ‘big shoes’ to fill by in-coming Council member Maria Marino). There was no mention at any time in the meeting, by City Attorney Max Lohman, that there are 2 lawsuits pending hearings related to Group 4’s result and Council member Levy’s eligibility to be seated. David Levy, Group 4 and Maria Marino, Group 2, were administered the oath of office and sworn in.

Congratulations go to Mayor Tinsley, who is only the second female to hold the office of Mayor (Linda Monroe was mayor from 1985-1986) of Palm Beach Gardens. She was nominated by Bert Premuroso, seconded by Eric Jablin and elected unanimously. Mr. Jablin was elected Vice-Mayor.

The three Public Hearings: Compassionate Friends Memorial Garden, Reduction in Square Footage for United Technology’s Center for Intelligent Buildings Technology Complex, and Combining PGA Commons Parcel 2 and 3 PUD Amendment, all passed 5:0 with little discussion after the presentations.

The bulk of the meeting was spent on Presentations, Comments from the Public and Discussion of the Sales Tax Referendum.

April 7, 2016


  • Dorothy Jacks, Chief Deputy Property Appraiser (and candidate for Property Appraiser) gave an update on the Gardens property valuations. Ms. Jacks praised the mix of residential versus commercial properties and careful growth in the City. Her tentative outlook in 2016 Market Valuation for the Gardens was 8-10% or more. Note that those with homesteaded properties would not see more than a 7/10 increase.
  • Mark Bannon, Executive Director of the PBC Commission on Ethics, briefly summarized the role of the Ethics Commission and encouraged the City to make use of their staff when ethics questions arise. There is a database of 400+ advisory opinions and while those are online, the City should ask Ethics staff for assistance. New opinions can be sought as well.
  • FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) gave an update on the I-95 Central Blvd Project – describing and showing images of proposed on/off ramps and intersections in the area between the Military Trail and Donald Ross Rd intersections. The next public meeting on the subject will be in late Sept or early October 2016 and will include a noise study.
  • The Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce has had a 2-year branding initiative which will have it’s big Reveal on April 26th. The Chamber asked for a proclamation in support, by the City, as well as continued financial support, which City Manager Ferris said was already in budget.
  • Sandra Wesson, of the Palm Beach County School System Choice Programs Manager, spoke a bit about the International Baccalaureate programs and requested a letter of support from the Council in order to assist in getting the next 3-year grant. Grove Park and H.L. Watkins Middle School have been participant schools.

Public Comment:

  • Flax Ct – Gary Pitchford, speaking for the neighborhood, expressed their continued displeasure with the progress of the property.
  • Andrea Ciampi had equestions on who was responsible for any I-95 related improvements to Central Blvd – answer was County
  • Eileen Henderson requested biographical information on new Councilmember Marino
  • Michael Marsh, speaking on Corey Jones, thanked the City for writing a letter to State Attorney Aronberg and described the actions by the Florida Legislature on body-cameras as ineffective
  • Tom Murphy, President of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Foundation spoke on upcoming essay contests
  • Rick Sartori, Executive VP of the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber, voiced the Chambers’ support of the Infrastructure Sales Tax Referendum proposal, especially commending the Cultural Council and Economic Developments components of the proposed tax.
  • Matt Baker, along with 5 other residents of the Mirasol area, demanded that Fire Station 64 receive the same staffing as the City’s other 4 fire stations. Fire Rescue Chief Mike Southard has met with Mr. and Mrs. Baker over the last few months. Station64James Ippolito, Division Chief of Emergency Medical Services gave a detailed power point presentation describing how ‘automatic aid’ works in balancing coverage in all areas of the city, with appropriate staff covering each area as vehicles are called to various emergencies. An external study was only begun a few days ago and could take 90-120 days to complete. The residents were requesting immediate increase in staffing to equivalent levels, but both the City Manager and the Chief said that such staffing would cost $234K in overtime for the remainder of the budget year, without any evidence that response time would be improved. Part of the problem with the Mirasol area is that there are gated communities within gated communities, that add to the response time. However response time averages in all 5 stations are all better than targets.

Sales Tax Referendum:

Councilmember Levy kicked off the discussion saying that while he was not for the sales tax in general, if it passed, there should be some way to reduce the millage or give back some of the increased costs back to the residents. Vice-Mayor Jablin described his opposition, as did the remaining council members. They voted 4:0 to not sign the inter-local agreement supporting the sales tax increase. Note that cities representing 50% + 1 of the population of the County must vote in favor of the sales tax referendum in order for it to get on the ballot.  See the Palm Beach Post’s coverage here.

Farewell to Joe Russo and Progress on Some Major Issues

There was only one Public Hearing on the March 3rd Agenda, Signage Amendment for the Gardens Commerce Center – which passed 5:0. However much of the meeting was spent on several topics.

First on the agenda was recognition of Barbara Nicklaus and the impact she has had on the Gardens, living here for the last 50 years. She was awarded a Key to the City and a plaque for her efforts on the Nicklaus Children’s Health Foundation. Council Member Joe Russo read the proclamation, as a long time friend of the family.

March 3, 2016

Sherry Brown, Assistant Budget Director for Palm Beach County, gave a very brief update on the status of the proposed sales tax increase with little detail and discussion. Purchasing Director Km! Ra and Special Projects Director Charlotte Prezensky gave an update on the status of the new Golf Club House and the awarding of the design/build contract. Public input will be sought on the City website as well as at a Residents’ Day at the golf course on March 17th from 9-10:30 and 4-7 (extended from the original 6pm by request of Council Member Premuroso). Council Member Tinsley asked how long buildout would take – and the target is 16 months to completion. Council Member Russo expressed concern that 40-60 banquets/years not interfere with the golfers.

The Council reserved much of the Items of Resident Interest to thanking Joe Russo for his 27 years of service to Palm Beach Gardens, as both Mayor and Council Member. Joe, in turn thanked everyone, highlighted what he viewed as the major City accomplishments over the period, and suggested that the City consider Districts and direct election of a mayor as it continues to grow. He ended with advising future councils to ‘be a leader and always listen!’

Comments from the Public included:

  • Carol Courtney, of 40th Terrace spoke of the destruction of beautiful trees by the City, who did so without a survey, fines against Kevin Easton of $500/day, her arrest, and public record requests ignored, related to the Sunset Terrace/40th Terrace city water project.
  • Warm thanks to Joe Russo and to his family from former County Commissioner Karen Marcus, Tequesta Mayor Abby Brennan, Mark Marciano (via a letter read by Joni Alias, Joni Alias and from Joe Russo’s son, Joseph R. Russo who described growing up in the City with his father always on the council and his father’s dedication and service to the City.
  • Residents opposed to the Shady Lakes Extension included Ruth Peeples, Craig Allgood, Kathy Beamer, Barry Mandelewicz, and Vito DeFrancesco all reinforcing the point that they’re not being listened to.
  • Flax Court neighbors Margaret Collins and Gary Pitchford questioned and discussed the results of the Special Magistrate Meeting, and inappropriate fining/treatment of the property owner and liens on the property.
  • It was the 137th day without answers on the Corey Jones shooting and several friends and family members speaking included Michael Marsh, Terry and Sheila Banks, and Mami Kisner asking for justice. Mayor Jablin said that he would draft a letter to State Attorney Aronberg and urge him to come out with the findings related to the case and hoped the information would bring some measure of peace.
  • Incoming Council Member Maria Marino thanked the Council for the progress on the Golf Club House.

City Manager Report:

Thanks to City Manager Ferris for placing subjects to be covered on the agenda. We hope that he continues to do so every month, making the agenda more valuable for affected or interested parties.

Flax Court Update – as a result of the Special Magistrate – the City will be abating the unfinished roof, securing the structure and addressing the exterior condition including debris removal. At the March 23rd Code Hearing, the owner will be assessed the abatement costs and fines. City Attorney Lohman addressed lien issues. See details from the Palm Beach Post article.

Shady Lakes Extension – Feedback from the residents will be incorporated into the project; once there is a plan to share, there will be a workshop in the April/May timeframe; Ferris cited a consultant report and traffic study justifying the need for the expansion as well as at 117th. He also showed ‘drone’ footage of the traffic patterns during school pickup – worth watching the video to see what the area residents are complaining about! Council Member Levy said priority of 117th Ct should be first and asked if doing that would alleviate the needs for Shady Lakes. Ferris said he would have to defer, without another study. Council Member Tinsley made major progress with the School Board on 117th Ct right-of-way. Council Member Russo said the entire plan should be worked out. The City Manager hopes to have many more answers prior the the workshop.

There were no items for council discussion or City Attorney reports.

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