RPB Approves Changes To Garage Sale Rules

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council voted 4-1 last week to increase the number of garage sales residents can hold each year from two to three. However, the council decided to not increase the number of allowable signs.

Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said the sales would be restricted to one every four months.

Mayor Matty Mattioli opposed the change, saying it reflected the desires of only one resident, teacher Candice Cavaleri, who requested more garage sales in order to increase her opportunities to buy and sell school supplies and seasonal wares.

“I let my feelings be known then, and I’ll do it again,” he said. “If we change our code to suit one person, what’s going to stop the next person from asking, ‘You changed it for her, why not change it for me?’”

Councilman Jeff Hmara said he had considered the comparison of other municipalities in the county, most of which had fewer regulations on garage sales — some none at all.

“Even the larger communities had no limits, restrictions or requirements,” Hmara said. “I lean more toward favorably considering the request for an additional one, primarily for that reason.”

Vice Mayor Fred Pinto agreed that the council should not have knee-jerk reactions every time a person makes a request, but input from staff had suggested that there would be no harm in modifying the code for garage sales.

“Your point is well taken,” Pinto told Mattioli. “In my view, if we approve this, that doesn’t open the door to do so every time somebody wants to change something. Each individual case has its own merit.”

Pinto, who noted that the change had previously been reduced from four sales to three, said he felt the council had done its due diligence. “We have grown as a village over the years,” he said. “We have a lot more people here, and it might be to their benefit to have the opportunity to get rid of things in their garage.”

Councilman Richard Valuntas said that reviewing codes over time is one of the council’s jobs. “The fact is, back in the 1980s, when they said, ‘OK, you get two a year and you get two signs and that’s it,’ maybe it made sense, but today I thought [Cavaleri] stated a decent case,” he said.

Valuntas added that if a person comes in with a bad idea for a code change, he would have no problem saying so. “We’re changing things because it makes sense,” he said. “It’s reasonable and sensible to do, and that’s what our job is.”

Director of Community Development Rob Hill said the impact of garage sales currently allowed has not been significant. “The addition of an additional one certainly appears to be manageable,” Hill said. “Is it a burden on our code enforcement resources? No, sir, it is not.”

Valuntas made a motion to grant preliminary approval to the ordinance, which carried 4-1.

The council rejected a related ordinance that would have increased the number of allowable off-site signs from two to four. Valuntas said that although he favored allowing additional garage sales, he did not see the need to increase the number of signs.

Councilwoman Martha Webster noted that there seemed to be a feeling that two signs did not necessarily get a driver where they wanted to go. “Two signs with the configuration of the roads and where some homes are, with cul de sacs and things like that, they just didn’t seem to meet the objective of letting people know where they were,” she said.

Webster made a motion to approve the sign change, but it failed with Pinto, Valuntas and Mattioli opposed.

In other business, the council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would allow homeowners to install concrete buttons or pyramids on their swale to prevent drivers from driving onto the swale or cutting a corner short.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said the village requires the owner to be responsible for the swale area, but the village wanted to avoid allowing the construction of obstructions such as fences.

“We had a gentleman come in here several years ago who wanted to do it the right way and wanted to permit something, and we really just didn’t have a good solution for him because we were against obstructions in the right of way,” Liggins said, explaining that residents already have the traffic buttons and pyramids all over the village. “We’d have to deal with a large code enforcement issue and have these property owners remove them, but without a good solution for them to do something else.”

Liggins noted that staff tried unsuccessfully to solve the problem with reflectors but eventually settled on the pyramids/buttons as the best solution.

Pinto asked about liability if someone damages their tires, and Liggins said the driver would have to be two feet off the pavement, driving where they are not supposed to be driving. “They do have some fault of their own,” Liggins said.

Hmara said he has found the pyramids and buttons to be effective in keeping drivers off the swales.

Valuntas said he liked the idea and distinctly remembered the homeowner who had come to the council complaining that people were actually cutting through his lawn. “These things exist all over the village, and there’s a couple of them in my neighborhood,” he said.

Pinto made a motion to approve the change, which carried 5-0.