The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission last week recommended that the village approve a request by Grandview at Crestwood to replace 81 mahogany and buttonwood trees with foxtail palms.
At the Dec. 23 meeting, Site Plan Coordinator Kevin Erwin said Grandview at Crestwood, located behind the Crestwood Square shopping plaza, was site-planned in the 1990s, and the applicant was seeking architectural approval to remove those trees, which are within narrow landscape islands throughout the community.
“The applicant is proposing to replace the trees being removed with foxtail palms,” Erwin said. “The existing trees were planted in areas which were much too small to accommodate proper growth habits, and they are also causing damage to the driveways and walkways, which require costly repairs.”
Erwin said some of the tree islands are narrower than 3 feet. “These are very large trees,” he said. “Mahoganies have a very large canopy, and green buttonwoods can get very sizable as well.”
He said the homeowners’ association had provided a notice to the Grandview at Crestwood residents informing them of the annual meeting when the proposed tree removal was to be discussed, and only one resident objected to the removal.
The applicant had supplied a landscape removal and replacement plan for the commission’s review.
Erwin also noted that the spaces where the trees have been planted would not meet the minimum standards for parallel divider strips under the current village code, nor would even be required.
“It should also be noted that this site plan was approved many, many years ago,” he said. “It probably was not a good idea to put these types of trees in these types of locations. Therefore, staff is recommending approval. We think the palm trees will have a better opportunity to grow and flourish in such a small area.”
Thomas Menzel, president of the Grandview at Crestwood Homeowners’ Association, said the HOA had replaced more than 40 driveways.
“It has cost us more than $40,000 in driveway repairs, and within a year, the roots have come back and caused more damage,” Menzel said. “It has just been a nightmare for the community.”
He asked for approval of the application to replace the trees before they continue with driveway repair and replacement.
Erwin also pointed out that any shrubbery material that is disturbed during the replacement will also be replaced.
Landscaper Luis Espino of Florida Green requested permission for the replacement palms to be about 6 or 7 feet in height, but Erwin said the minimum permitted height would be 14 feet. Espino asked permission that the replacement palms be adonidias, also known as Christmas palms, because they are easier to locate at those heights and have smaller root balls than foxtails.
Erwin said the foxtail palms would have a larger head and provide a bit more shade than an adonidia and suggested three adonidias in lieu of one foxtail.
Commissioner Joseph Boyle asked whether the replacement palms met the village’s mitigation requirements, and Erwin said the foxtails would be an acceptable replacement as long as they meet the minimum planting height of 14 feet, clarifying that the minimum height of 14 feet would be to the top of the fronds rather than the trunk.
Menzel said the community was aware that the foxtail palms would not provide as much canopy but also would not destroy the driveways.
Erwin added that the application should probably remain with the foxtails because that is what was discussed at the HOA meeting.
Commissioner June Perrin said she hated to lose the mature trees, but understood the circumstances. “It goes to show you that it’s always very important when you’re doing landscaping to plan for the present and the future,” she said.
Commissioner Michael Axelberd said his community of Royal Estates also had issues where trees were pulling up driveways and sidewalks.
“We were afraid it was going to pull up the roads, which it probably would have,” he said.
Axelberd also pointed out that one community wound up paying a six-figure settlement to a pedestrian who had tripped over a sidewalk that had been pulled up by a root system.
“I applaud you for taking action because you’re mitigating damages,” he said. “Not only that, but during hurricanes, mahoganies are a fall hazard.”
Axelberd made a motion to approve the application, which carried 5-0.
In other business, the commission gave architectural approval of wall signs for Home Away from Home at RPG Regal.
Erwin said the request was for the farthest back of five buildings in the RPG complex, where the proposed childcare center will be located.
“The applicant is seeking wall-sign approval for a proposed childcare center located at 1013 N. State Road 7,” Erwin said.
The site is zoned general commercial, and the applicant is proposing to use a modified version of its trademark for the proposed wall sign without ruling behind the sign, which staff felt made it less busy. Staff had recommended approval.
Perrin made a motion to approve the application, which carried 5-0.
The commission also gave architectural approval to the Mid County Veterinary Hospital at 11368 Okeechobee Blvd. to replace its roof. Erwin said the applicant wanted to replace its tile roof with a metal one.
Commissioner Felicia Matula made a motion to approve the application, which also carried unanimously.