The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved ordinances last week likely to lead the way to annexation of about 120 acres of land near the southwest corner of State Road 7 and Southern Blvd. known as Acme Ranches.
The annexation is in two parts because not all of the owners are in agreement with the annexation, according to Village Manager Ray Liggins.
In separate actions on Sept. 3, the council approved the first reading of an application by the Wantman Group seeking voluntary annexation of five parcels of land totaling just over 22 acres.
The other action was the second reading and adoption of an ordinance for the involuntary annexation of 21 parcels totaling almost 98 acres.
“The involuntary annexation is the eastern portion of the property, where not all of the property owners are in agreement to be annexed,” Liggins told the Town-Crier. “They will vote, and if a majority of the property owners agree, it will be annexed.”
The Big Dog Ranch Rescue site farther to the west was voluntarily annexed into Royal Palm Beach about a year ago. The nonprofit currently operates out of a converted wildlife sanctuary, and did not receive the necessary approvals from the county to reconfigure its design to be more amenable to housing dogs. It has since purchased property in Loxahatchee Groves to relocate its operation.
At the Sept. 3 council meeting, Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said the involuntary annexation request met county and state requirements, including contiguity and compactness. The parcel is completely surrounded by land that is now part of Royal Palm Beach.
The village will hold a special mail ballot election ending Tuesday, Oct. 27 to determine whether the 98 acres should be annexed. Persons eligible to vote are registered voters in the area proposed to be annexed. On Oct. 7, the Supervisor of Elections will mail ballots to those eligible to vote. Voters must mail or deliver the marked ballots to the Supervisor of Elections office no later than 7 p.m. on Oct. 27.
Developer Brian Tuttle, representing the applicant, thanked the council for letting the people decide whether or not they should join the village.
“We’re very excited,” Tuttle said. “We were here last week, and we had 11 residents. We understand now that there are a couple of residents who are not excited about the opportunity to come into the village. We think that Royal Palm Beach is one of the best villages in Palm Beach County.”
He said proper planning is the key to having a good community. Tuttle noted that the area has been in Royal Palm Beach’s future annexation area for at least 10 years.
“By having the entire area annexed into the city, then proper planning can be done for that area,” he said. “Proper planning hasn’t been done yet. There are a couple of ideas on the table.”
Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that she has been working with the Supervisor of Elections on the exact mail ballot language that will be sent to residents in the area.
“The supervisor had a few minor modifications to what I had proposed,” Ashton said. “They are very minor. They do not change the substance of the question.”
The second ordinance was the preliminary reading by the Wantman Group’s voluntary annexation of five tracts of land totaling just over 22 acres, west of State Road 7, north of Acme Road and immediately south of Southern Blvd. That property is to the northwest of the land up for involuntary annexation.
The property is currently in single-family residential use.
O’Brien said that the Wantman Group parcel also meets county and state requirements for annexation and will reduce the size of an existing enclave. “All the owners of the affected parcels have submitted petitions for this voluntary annexation,” he said.
Both items were approved by the council 5-0.