Charter School Gets OK To Open On SR 7 In Wellington

The Wellington Village Council gave final approval Tuesday to the Wellington Charter School, set to open next fall on State Road 7 south of Stribling Way.

Council members unanimously approved a development order amendment to change the site from 79,480 square feet of retail furniture sales space to allow for the 1,200-student private school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The applicant must return for conditional use approval for a 15,000-square-foot daycare center.

Agent for the applicant John Schmidt said that he had no problem with the village’s conditions, including that the property return for site plan approval and that they pay for a portion of a traffic light at Palomino Drive.

The school is expected to be run by Charter Schools USA.

Councilman Matt Willhite said that the intention was to make sure that traffic concerns were eased. “We are greatly concerned with traffic backing up onto [SR7],” he said.

Schmidt said that the developers had been conscientious about traffic in designing the traffic patterns on site. “We added a third lane where we can stack 75 more cars through the property,” he said.

Willhite also wanted to make sure there would be cross access.

“The intention to have this brought back for site plan approval is because we want to make sure you have cross access on Palomino Drive and to make sure the stacking on the perimeter doesn’t end up backing up,” he said.

Councilman John Greene was concerned about the agreement between the school and other nearby property owners to finance the Palomino Drive traffic light, which is estimated to cost about $400,000.

The property owners would be paying a share of the light, Schmidt said.

“We are committing $171,000,” he said.

Wellington traffic consultant Andrea Troutman added that Wellington Parc would be paying about $80,000, with the rest kicked in by CyberKnife, the Palomino Executive Park Property Owners’ Association and Palm Beach County.

Last month, council members approved an expansion of the CyberKnife facility with the stipulation that it pay for a portion of the light. During that meeting, council members also put conditions on the POA to pay its fair share of the light.

Councilwoman Anne Gerwig asked whether the Florida Department of Transportation had approved the light. Troutman said it had.

“They already agreed that it can go at this location [on Palomino Drive],” she said. “They did not agree to move it further north to the entrance of the school.”

Willhite made a motion to approve the item on second reading with staff’s conditions. The motion passed unanimously.

But during public comments at the end of the meeting, legal representatives for the Palomino Executive Park POA asked for a rehearing on the matter.

“You had a hearing recently and added some conditions, and my clients were taken by surprise at some of those conditions,” attorney Thomas Baird said. “They would like to have the opportunity to have a dialogue with your staff about those conditions and have it brought back to you for a rehearing so the issues can be massaged.”

He said that the conditions as approved were not acceptable.

“The only other option is [for legal recourse],” Baird said. “That’s not a track we want to be on, and I’m sure the village doesn’t want to be on it, either.”

Attorney Jeff Kurtz said it was the council’s decision whether to hear the matter again. “You as a council have the ability to hold a rehearing,” he said. “You do not have the obligation.”

He suggested a caution, though. “You could set a precedent where anyone who is denied a favorable ruling would petition for a rehearing,” Kurtz said.

Vice Mayor Howard Coates was not in favor of a rehearing.

“There was an attorney present at the meeting,” he said. “There were no issues where a rehearing could not have been addressed that night.”

Coates made a motion to deny the request for a rehearing, and the council unanimously agreed.