Although the access road from Tangerine Blvd. to Loxahatchee Groves Plaza is not legal, it appears to be commonly used by local customers.
To fix the glitch, the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council directed town management Tuesday to negotiate with the plaza’s owner to make the entry legitimate from the plaza to Tangerine Drive and West D Road.
The shopping center is located on Southern Blvd., just west of D Road, and is also the location of the town’s offices.
Tenants there were cited earlier this year for several code infractions, but in March, the council directed Town Manager Mark Kutney to ease up on code enforcement efforts related to the shopping plaza.
“After that direction, the owner came to meet with me, and I advised him that the town council has asked me to stand down, and we weren’t making any requirements of him,” Kutney said, adding that plaza owner Kan Yee said he wanted to proceed with the requirements.
Kutney said Yee had asked him what he needed to do to mitigate code issues, and Kutney said he told him the town’s primary concern from a liability standpoint was with the conditions placed on the plaza when it was approved by Palm Beach County in 1983, including that no access would be permitted onto Tangerine Road or West D Road.
“As the owner, he faces liabilities if something happens,” Kutney said. “The town could face liabilities in terms of not enforcing the conditions. I dropped it at that point. Anything Mr. Yee wants to do at this point, he’s doing without any consultation or requests from me.”
Kutney said he had received a strongly worded e-mail from British Feed Co. owner Tim Hart-Woods, a tenant of the plaza, alleging that Kutney ordered the access road cut off.
“They are talking about not complying with the condition anyway,” Kutney said. “They are talking about just closing off the road at night and still using it. I have no intention of doing anything unless the town council directs me.”
Councilman Jim Rockett did not favor granting access.
“As far as the condition of use of property that was granted by the county, I think we should have no access to those roads as specified,” Rockett said. “I would be concerned in general about allowing for a commercial center to be allowed to take its traffic out onto a residential street.”
Councilman Tom Goltzené was happy the way things were with the road open. “If Mark said he is good with it the way it was, then I think we should leave it the way it is,” Goltzené said.
Mayor Dave Browning asked whether any residents have complained. Kutney said one resident indicated he was going to complain that there was too much wear on the road, but never did.
“I’ll be honest with you; I like it,” Browning said. “With the construction on Southern and everything else, it makes it a whole lot easier to get out of that plaza. Personally, I don’t think it’s such a big deal. I know why the county did it. It wanted everything going on and off of Southern.”
Goltzené said the county has since reversed its position. “Now the county wants everything to be on Tangerine,” he said. “We have letters requesting that we open Tangerine all the way through town, so they’ve changed their tune since this was done.”
Both Browning and Goltzené acknowledged that they use the back access themselves.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” Goltzené said. “I really would love to see the tension and turmoil reduced. I think that that could be diminished, and I think that’s on both sides.”
Town Attorney Michael Cirullo pointed out that the council has a resolution that says “no access” and advised that the town should meet with the property owner to see if he wanted to seek relief formally from the council.
“In the meantime,” Cirullo said, “I don’t think we need to enforce it, but I think it does need to be properly done at some point.”