Lox Council Asks County To Transfer Land To The Town

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved a resolution Tuesday directing town staff to go ahead with negotiations with Palm Beach County to waive payment for the transfer of ownership of property at F Road and Southern Blvd. where the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce building is located.

The chamber leases the property from the county for $1 a year, but the town, which is looking to purchase the building from the chamber, would like to own the property outright.

Town Manager Bill Underwood said the transfer of ownership was the last remaining obstacle for the town to purchase the building. The town has gotten two appraisals of $581,635 and $583,824, which does not include the land because that belongs to the county.

“The council has been providing guidance to the staff to negotiate with the chamber, but we ran into this little snag about the land issue, and this resolution is to solidify and make known that the council would like to get that free of charge,” Underwood said. “It is in the best interest, as indicated in the resolution, for both parties, county residents and town residents, as dollars would just be switching from the town to the county, and vice versa.”

He pointed out that the town would have a permanent residence in the county park and it would have some oversight of the property, including the park, during daylight hours when the offices are open.

“We could structure it so that the commissioner could have that as an office,” Underwood said, adding that he had received a call from County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay’s office setting a meeting for 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 26 with Mayor Dave Browning and himself to talk about a possible transfer of ownership. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to negotiate something.”

Councilman Jim Rockett made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 4-0 with Councilman Ryan Liang absent.

In other business:

• The council approved a resolution showing continued support for the completion of State Road 7 to Northlake Blvd. and opposing the Florida Department of Transportation’s decision last month to delay of the start of construction from 2016 to 2020.

Rockett made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 4-0.

Rockett, who is the town’s liaison to the Western Communities Council, which asked for passage of the resolution, said the WCC would probably be asking for more money to support its lobbyist in the fight for the continuation of the extension, but pointed out that it has asked the Town of Loxahatchee Groves for less money than other contributors.

“The bigger boys, so to speak, coughed up more money than we did, but they will probably come back,” Rockett said.

• During the manager’s report, Underwood said that an interlocal agreement with the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District for surveys of trails and roads was now with the LGWCD attorney and that the town was waiting for a response.

• He said he has sent a letter to County Administrator Bob Weisman asking about the funding mechanism for a traffic light at Okeechobee Blvd. and D Road, which under the current agreement, the town will construct and the county will reimburse through impact fees from Minto West. Underwood has spoken to an attorney for Minto West, who told him they were drafting an agreement for the town’s review.

• The council also approved the second and final reading of a non-binding referendum to be placed on the March 10 ballot asking voters if they would be willing to pay for the resurfacing of roads. Jarriel made a motion to approve the question, which carried 3-1 with Councilman Tom Goltzené dissenting.