The Royal Palm Beach Village Council has authorized a two-week extension with Lennar Homes for the purchase of the village’s old wastewater treatment plant site. The action was taken at the council’s June 18 meeting and was needed due to delays in Lennar receiving a traffic study approval.
The council approved the sale of the 154-acre property to Lennar for $35 million in February.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said the 60-day due diligence period ends June 29, but the timetable had been thrown behind because of a delay in the traffic study approval by the county.
“At the end of that period was the opportunity for Lennar to say whether they want to continue with the purchase or not,” Liggins said, explaining that currently, Lennar could default at no cost to them. “If they wanted to continue with the purchase, they had to put up another deposit of $600,000, and the refundability of that deposit is a little more restrictive.”
Lennar asked for a two-week extension to July 13.
“I know we’ve known about this date for a long time, and I don’t want to see any of our dates shift, but we worked hard to get a contract closing and a schedule that would happen in 2015,” Liggins said. “Lennar assured me that no other dates would be shifted because of this shift. The submittals for the site plan are not being shifted, and the closing is not being shifted. They are asking for two weeks to make that final decision and write that next deposit.”
Since none of the other dates are being shifted, Liggins recommended that the council give them the two weeks.
Councilman Jeff Hmara asked what the rationale was for the extension, and Brad Stanis with Lennar Homes said Lennar had authorized the Wantman Group to do a traffic study, which took 30 days to complete, including a review by the county.
“We were supposed to get the study back on June 5, but we didn’t receive it until June 16,” Stanis said. “We need to review it internally. We did that Wednesday morning, and yesterday I met with Ray Liggins to discuss a possible extension. The traffic study was two weeks later than we anticipated, thanks to our friends at the county, unfortunately, and that’s why we’re here asking for the extension.”
Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas said he was going to agree with Liggins’ recommendation but did not like granting contract extensions. “One of the things since I’ve been on the council that I got the most heat about was a contract situation we had on a construction project,” Valuntas said. “The issue was the contractor, and this was right up here on Royal Palm Beach Blvd. They didn’t comply with a lot of the dates, and the dates are there for a reason.”
Valuntas warned that he would not be supporting future contract delays. Councilman Dave Swift made a motion to approve the extension, which carried 5-0.
In other business:
• The council approved a one-year extension on a sign variance for the IHOP restaurant in the Coral Sky shopping center at 510 N. State Road 7.
Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained that the council had approved the variance in June 2014 and the applicant had the option of requesting a one-year extension. O’Brien said the applicant needed additional time to make façade improvements.
Jan Polson, representing Atlas Signs, said the applicant had recently been granted an architectural amendment to make some changes to the building.
“I understand that the building is now entering the construction phase,” Polson said. “My applicant wanted to move forward with the signage. However, it has not been able to do that due to the construction of the building needing to happen first. We’re here before you tonight to ask for that additional year so we can move forward with the signage.”
Polson also pointed out that the IHOP in Wellington had closed, and this new location would serve both the Royal Palm Beach and Wellington communities.
She added that when the original request came through, the applicant had asked for a monument sign, which was denied, and that a new sign code being written by the village had stalled.
“My applicant would like to see that continue because they are desirous of a monument sign on the site,” Polson said. “We’re hoping that you would take a look at your code and possibly accommodate monument signs for these types of establishments that are not actually an outparcel,” she said.
Valuntas made a motion to approve the extension, which carried 5-0.
• Liggins asked that the council’s July 2 meeting be canceled and that the few consent items on the agenda be moved to the council’s budget workshop, set for Monday, July 6.
• The council also approved the final reading of an ordinance requiring new or reconstructed gas stations to be equipped with emergency generators, and approved the final reading of an amendment to the zoning code providing a special exception for dry cleaning businesses with drive-through services in commercial areas.