The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council shot down a request by Atlantic Land Investments to amend the use of an outparcel at Loxahatchee Groves Commons from restaurant to medical office last week.
Mayor Dave Browning was absent from the Sept. 8 meeting, and Vice Mayor Tom Goltzené recused himself due to a business arrangement he has with the company.
The quasi-judicial hearing required three affirmative votes for approval, and Councilman Todd McLendon cast the sole dissenting vote that made the proposal fail 2-1.
The council approved another amendment request at the shopping center by a pool supply company for a 1,000-gallon chlorine storage tank, and tabled a variance request by Dunkin’ Donuts for a larger-than-permitted menu board for its drive-through until the council had all members present.
Attorney Thomas Mullin, representing Atlantic Land Investments, pointed out that the medical office is a permitted use in the town and a less intensive use, with fewer hours of operation.
Joe Lelonek of Atlantic Land Investments said the request was for an urgent-care medical office. He noted that he has a client ready to move into the 3,400-square-foot building. Lelonek also pointed out that the traffic impact would be less than that of a restaurant, and that town staff had recommended approval.
But McLendon said he thought that the medical office was not needed because there are already several others nearby. He wanted to keep the restaurant use. Councilmen Ron Jarriel and Ryan Liang supported the change.
Lelonek said that his company was not looking for a land use change, and that competition shouldn’t weigh in on the decision.
“We have a viable user that wants to come into Loxahatchee Groves,” he said, adding that the developer clearly has a right for a medical office as a permitted use.
Town Attorney Michael Cirullo said that at a quasi-judicial hearing, any decision the council made had to be based on the law.
“If it meets the criteria, it has to meet the site plan,” Cirullo said. “If you don’t approve it, [the reason] has to be that criteria have not been met. I ask that you consider that. You need to proceed accordingly based on what was presented.”
Jarriel made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Liang, but the motion failed with McLendon opposed.
Lelonek said that the second request was for a chlorine tank at American Blue Pool Supplies, which was set to open between Tractor Supply and Publix this week.
He said part of American Blue’s business model is to provide chlorine bleach for pools, and the 1,000-gallon tank would be to the rear of the store, built on concrete block and surrounded by a chain-link fence and landscaping.
Jarriel made a motion to approve the request, which carried 3-0.
Regarding the Dunkin’ Donuts sign, the council tabled the request after disagreements broke out over its size. McLendon made a motion to continue the request to the next meeting, which carried 3-0.
In other business, the council approved preliminary hearings of its budget and solid waste assessments.
The solid waste rate was set at $256.27 per customer, which will raise an estimated $348,015.
Liang made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0. Browning was attending at the time by conference call, but later disconnected.
The council also approved an annual tax rate unchanged from the current year at 1.4717 mills. Ad valorem revenue for the 2016-17 budget is estimated at $361,093. The total revenue estimate for the general fund is $1,385,923. Transportation is $416,571, and $1.9 million is set aside for the capital improvement program.
Liang made a motion to approve the tax rate, which carried 5-0.
The final hearing for the solid waste assessment and tax rate is set for Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
The council also approved requests for the appropriate agencies to approve the annexation of the county-owned Pines Natural Area, as well as portions of rights of way along Southern Blvd.
Goltzené said the effort to annex the Southern Blvd. easement was to prevent roadside sales and billboards on the roadway.