Wellington Will Not Pay Developer For Cross Access

The Wellington Village Council rejected a settlement Tuesday with the Palomino Executive Park Property Owners’ Association. The settlement, proposed by village staff, would have had Wellington pay $90,000 to resolve Palomino Park’s dispute with the neighboring Wellington Parc development for cross access to join the two properties.

Village Engineer Bill Riebe said there have been issues with the cross-access easement agreement between the Wellington Parc and Palomino Park developments on the west side of State Road 7. Cross access was imposed as a condition of development and is intended to keep traffic off of SR 7. The cross-access point is at least partially finished, but a barricade has been put up.

“This attempts to resolve those issues by the Village of Wellington participating in a settlement agreement, whereby we would contribute roughly $90,000 to pay for the construction of an entrance into Palomino Park,” Riebe said.

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen pointed out that the proposed agreement was not a settlement of any legal challenge.

“We’re saying ‘settlement,’ but it’s not a settlement of any claim that’s been levied or any lawsuit that’s been threatened or pending,” Cohen said. “It’s really just a resolution of a disputed issue.”

Vice Mayor John Greene said he was ready to make a motion to deny the payment.

“I don’t feel the village has any financial obligation to participate in this,” Greene said. “We certainly want to do everything we can between these two parties, but I look at it as this is a private matter between two different groups. Everybody has done exactly what they were required to do in terms of the money that was spent, in terms of developing and constructing that cross easement. If these parties cannot come to some agreement on how they’re going to move forward with that, that’s not our problem.”

But Councilwoman Anne Gerwig asked how that action would resolve the issue. “Right now we don’t have the access,” she said.

Riebe said Wellington Parc had constructed the necessary culvert crossing.

“There is a crossing over that section of the Lake Worth Drainage District right of way,” he said. “There is a culvert in the canal and the roadway on top is paved, and there’s a sidewalk. It extends almost to the property line of Palomino Park.”

Gerwig asked why the access is almost to the property line. “They were supposed to go to the property line,” she said.

Riebe said the road goes as close as possible to the Palomino Park property line without touching it.

“Lennar actually paved that all the way to the fire access, and then there’s a section of shellrock to the culvert crossing,” he said. “When the commercial piece comes online, it is their responsibility to complete the roadway, bring it up to standards, curb and gutter, all of those improvements. When that commercial piece comes online, all of that connectivity will be in place.”

“So we already have that access,” Gerwig said. “What still needs to be done?”

Riebe said that in January 2009, the council approved a resolution that added two conditions that were not in Palomino Park’s master plan, requiring that it record a cross-access easement in a form approved by the village attorney, as well as a requirement for Wellington Parc to reimburse Palomino Park a pro-rated share of the cost to construct the entrance drive.

“The issue is Palomino Park recorded the cross-access easement,” he said. “It was approved by the village attorney at the time, and that cross-access easement requires Wellington Parc to reimburse. The only problem is that Wellington Parc didn’t have a like condition in their development order, so you can’t really place a condition on another party that’s not party to that approval.”

Riebe said that the cross access is currently barricaded and will not be opened until they come to some sort of agreement.

Gerwig asked who owns the barricades, and Riebe said he thought it was Wellington Parc.

“So Wellington Parc doesn’t want access?” Gerwig asked.

Riebe said the barricade is up currently because construction is not complete.

“The item that causes the issues is the reimbursement part,” he said. “In an attempt to kind of clean that up, we set off to see if we could come up with a solution, and this is the best solution that we were able to come up with amongst all the different parties — and we’ve been doing this for two-and-a-half years.”

Gerwig said the condition was put in place to get traffic off of SR 7 and complete the connectivity that was required by the comp plan.

“The problem is that we are the ones who want the cross access, and we have created a situation,” she said. “We want the traffic off of SR 7. If we don’t participate, I don’t see a resolution to it.”

Councilman Matt Willhite also wanted the cross access completed, and to use the new traffic light to its maximum capacity.

“I do want to see the safest route for any resident, visitor or traveler in that area,” Willhite said. “I have tried to persuade both sides to make this cross access amenable to everybody. I do think it’s inappropriate for Palomino to require previous costs to be incurred from the new person, however, that was in the plan.”

But Willhite did not favor using taxpayer dollars to solve the dispute. “I don’t support using someone else’s village tax dollars to mitigate a problem between two private landowners. That’s not our issue. We have tried to make sure that they would work together. We have talked to both sides… but it’s not my financial obligation or the residents’ financial obligation to fix a problem between two private landowners. They’re neighbors; they need to be good neighbors and work together to resolve this.”

Councilman John McGovern asked what would happen next if the village paid the money, and Riebe said the payment would go to Palomino Park.

“They and Wellington Parc have worked out the details for a new cross-access easement,” he said, explaining that the existing barricaded access is for a fire lane.

McGovern said that he felt that ultimately, the market would move the two parties to come to an agreement, particularly when the commercial portion of Wellington Parc is finished, but he did not see any monetary obligation by the village.

Greene’s motion to deny the settlement carried 4-1 with Gerwig opposed.


ABOVE: The Wellington Village Council.