Royal Palm Council Approves Changes For Cypress Key

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council last week approved two text amendments regarding the Cypress Key mixed-use development on Southern Blvd.

One was a comprehensive plan text amendment, while the other was a zoning text amendment, both making changes to the village’s mixed-use development (MXD) land use district and zoning category. Cypress Key is the only property in the village with an MXD designation.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity sent a letter to village staff accepting the comprehensive plan amendment in the form it was received.

“It identified no comments related to important state resources and facilities within the agency’s authorized scope of review that would be adversely impacted by the amendment,” Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said at the Thursday, July 6 meeting. “The village has also received [no comments] about potential adverse impacts about this petition from any other review agencies.”

The comp plan amendment, requested by Cypress Key’s developer, did not change from its first approval at the May 18 council meeting, adding institutional uses to the office use category and letting institutional uses be counted toward the floor area ratio (FAR) requirement.

The commercial portion of the mixed-use development includes institutional, restaurant with drive-through, office and retail uses. The residential component is already under construction.

Councilman Jeff Hmara made a motion to give final approval to the comprehensive plan text amendment, seconded by Councilwoman Jan Rodusky. It passed unanimously.

The zoning text amendment was given a new preliminary reading because of an update to the request by the developer’s agent, Urban Design Kilday Studios. It proposed separation of drive-throughs by a minimum of 475 feet from the nearest single-family home.

Councilwoman Selena Smith wanted to know the distinction regarding the distance between the drive-through and single-family homes versus the drive-through and residential areas.

“Aren’t there home dwellings that are close that are not single-family, that are multi-family?” Smith asked. “Why did we use that terminology just for single-family?”

Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton explained that town homes are more urban in nature, with the expectation they would be closer to commercial areas, so the focus was on single-family homes.

“The town homes are so close to the commercial area in that parcel that you would be looking at a distance of 70 to 100 feet to accommodate the town homes and their locations,” Ashton said. “And, the discussion at the last council meeting was focusing on the single-family homes, because you do expect a little bit more buffer for those types of uses.”

Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas, who lives in the area and voted against the previous reading of the zoning amendment in May, supported the change to the distance that would be set between drive-throughs and single-family homes in the area.

“I would like to commend the applicant for coming back with a change that I do think is a change for the better,” he said. “I still don’t think that this is something that should be in this, or that the ordinance should be changed to accommodate this, but I can count, and last time, a proposal that, in my opinion, was worse, was approved 4-1, so I do appreciate the applicant working with the people in the community and for putting this, one of my main concerns, to rest with the 475-foot buffer.”

Hmara brought up a previous discussion about the number of drive-throughs in the Cypress Key project. “One of the concerns that I think we discussed at the last council meeting about this was the number of drive-throughs that could be permitted,” Hmara said.

Ashton said there is only one drive-through in the revised site plan. The applicant did submit a variance request for a second drive-through, but it was voluntarily removed from the proposal before the July 6 meeting.

Hmara made a motion to approve the zoning text amendment, seconded by Rodusky. It also passed unanimously.

In other business, the council took action to extend a moratorium on the acceptance of applications involving small cell or micro-wireless communications facilities from July 31 until Sept. 30. The Florida Legislature recently passed House Bill 687, which Ashton said will force the village to make certain updates to its code. The bill was signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

“As Councilman Hmara mentioned, this was one of the really bad things that happened to municipal home rule this year,” Ashton said. “We are going to have to substantially rewrite our code to address it. We’ve essentially lost authority to regulate wireless communications facilities within our rights of way, if they’re the small cell or microcell type.”

A full presentation on a revised ordinance will come back to the council, explaining the changes in the law. Last week’s action only extended the existing moratorium from July 31 to Sept. 30. “That way we can have sufficient time to rewrite the code,” Ashton said.

Mayor Fred Pinto asked the attorney whether she believed she’d be able to “protect the interest of the citizens” regarding the new changes at the state level.

“The way that I’m reading the code, we have the ability, when we get an application in, to enter into what they’re calling a negotiation phase, where maybe we have some ability to say, ‘OK, not here, but maybe move them over here because of health, safety and welfare issues,’” Ashton said. “But, other than that, we do not have much control.”

Hmara made a motion to approve the extended moratorium, which passed unanimously.