RPB Abandonment To Allow Turn Lane At Ponce De Leon

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved the abandonment of property on the north side of Okeechobee Blvd. east of Ponce de Leon Street last week that will eventually be converted into a deceleration lane for westbound traffic seeking to turn into the La Mancha neighborhood.

Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said that the intent of the property was originally to provide drainage on Okeechobee Blvd., but the drainage will now be provided within the road. “The purpose of the abandonment is to provide a dedicated right-turn lane off of Okeechobee Blvd. onto Ponce de Leon Street,” O’Brien said, adding that village staff recommended approval of the abandonment.

Mayor Fred Pinto said the abandonment will allow for a welcome right-turn deceleration lane into La Mancha. “I think that would be a vast improvement on traffic congestion, particularly during rush hours,” Pinto said. “I know we have been talking about this for a long time, and I’m glad to see this finally happening.”

O’Brien said that Village Engineer Chris Marsh has been working with Palm Beach County staff to coordinate construction.

“The sooner the better,” Pinto said. “I know these things take time, but I’m glad to see that this is really happening now.”

Marsh said that the county anticipates construction to begin in August and be completed around December.

Vice Mayor Jeff Hmara made a motion to approve the abandonment, which carried 4-0 with Councilman Dave Swift absent.

“As a resident of La Mancha, double thank you,” said Councilwoman Selena Smith, who seconded the motion.

The council also heard a presentation on the upcoming expansion of the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center.

Bob Hill with DHGA Design said changes had been made in the design after a public workshop conducted by the village. “It gave us a little more direction on where to go with it,” Hill said. “We added a foyer and pre-function area, [which is] probably the biggest thing that we changed. The rest stayed pretty much the same.”

He said the addition changed the design from 4,800 square feet to 5,320 square feet.

A 51-space parking lot with four ADA spaces will be added to the north of the facility.

“Some of the feedback we got on the parking was that it’s going to bring parking closer to the facility, especially for the handicapped and the elderly,” Hill said, adding that money is in the budget for landscaping and other outdoor improvements.

The indoor redesign will have two meeting rooms and additional office space, as well as two additional restrooms and an ADA/family restroom where elderly patrons can assist their spouses.

The kitchen will be renovated, but will still be designed for catering rather than full service, Hill said. Rental space will be added for clients who regularly rent the facility.

The existing auditorium will remain as it is essentially, he said, but with the raised platform removed, making it more open and conducive to meetings.

“We’ve done away with the raised platform area,” he said. “Now you’ve got the same level for the meeting area as the auditorium area. No more ramp, no more steps. By taking that platform out, we can increase the numbers because we don’t have to work around that platform area.”

He said the new design will be more upscale for weddings, with chandeliers and controlled lighting.

The total cost of the additions and renovation is estimated at $2,263,980.

In other business, the council approved the final reading of an ordinance amending the zoning to allow vehicle sales indoors in the industrial zoning district.

O’Brien said the amendment updates text to be consistent with state statutes defining motor vehicle services.

“This amendment will remove the ability to display vehicles as part of the brokerage use, but add a new use, vehicle sales indoors within the zoning districts,” he said, pointing out that that type of use is permitted.

Hmara made a motion to approve the ordinance, which carried 4-0.

The council also approved a resolution naming an access road Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery Road.

Marsh said the cemetery requested the name change, explaining that the road is currently an unnamed access road, but since it is a signalized intersection onto Southern Blvd., used for funeral processions, it will be more easily recognized.

He added that the cemetery owners are supporting the village’s new RV parking lot, which is located west of the cemetery.

Councilwoman Jan Rodusky made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 4-0.

Finally, the council approved resolutions rescinding unity of title for portions of Acme Ranches owned by Brian Tuttle where a 392-unit development will be built.

O’Brien said the purpose of unity of title applications are to give clear title to the properties. “This is essentially a housekeeping item,” he said.

Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that the actions would have been the responsibility of the county before the property was annexed into the village.