CarMax Receives RPB Council Approval For Vehicle Auctions

Councilman Richard Valuntas, Vice Mayor Selena Smith, Building Code Administrator Robert Hill, Mayor Fred Pinto, Councilwoman Jan Rodusky and Councilman Jeff Hmara with the Building Safety Month proclamation.

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council granted a special exception and a zoning amendment last week that will pave the way for a planned CarMax dealership on Southern Blvd.

As part of the ongoing development application, the changes approved Thursday, May 3 were regarding the rules for vehicle auction sales in the village.

Specifically, attorney Bonnie Miskel, representing CarMax at the meeting, requested that the council create a new definition for vehicle auction sales, provide specific regulations relating to vehicle auction sales and add vehicle auctions as a special exception in the general commercial zoning district.

“CarMax has a different business model than your typical dealership,” Miskel said. “As part of that business model, they have two declarations. One is that [no one] is required to buy a car from them in order to trade in [their] car, and two is that they will not turn away any legally obtained car. Those principles create a demand that is not typical for a new car dealership, and they result in the need to have these auctions.”

CarMax is the largest used-vehicle retailer in the United States, and aims to build on a 13.5-acre vacant parcel between the Village Shoppes plaza and Al Packer Ford West on the north side of Southern Blvd.

Miskel added that, because CarMax does not turn people away who want to trade-in their cars, they depend on occasional auctions to keep inventory fresh. The auctions get rid of some of the older cars that have a low chance of being purchased. The CarMax vehicle auctions, though, are limited to licensed bidders and are not open to the general public.

In order to facilitate vehicle auctions, the specific requested regulations include limiting the length of vehicle auctions to be, at most, 25 percent of total hours of operation, allowing a maximum of two vehicle auctions within a seven-day period and only one night auction within a seven-day period, and that a minimum of five acres be required to host such auctions.

Further, daytime auction sales will only be permitted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while evening auction sales will only be permitted from 7 to 10 p.m.

Possible noise pollution from night auctions was a concern for the council, especially when considering the residential areas surrounding the location.

Mayor Fred Pinto was concerned that night auctions held outdoors could be bothersome to residents, so the council decided to specifically include that evening auctions are to be strictly held within an enclosed building.

With the changes specifically regarding the evening auctions, the council approved amending the zoning code to include the regulations in regard to vehicle auctions.

These auction regulations are subject to the council’s approval of the overall CarMax application within the next couple of months, and, also, on how fast the dealership builds its inventory.

“They do not intend to have auctions on the property initially,” Miskel explained. “It will take them a year or two to build inventory. When they are ready to have an auction on the property, they will be on the phase-two part of the property, and we will have to come back with a site plan, but the activity will occur within a building.”

The CarMax application is expected to go before the Royal Palm Beach Village Council for its first official reading on Thursday, May 17.

In other business:

• The council proclaimed May 2018 as Building Safety Month in the village. The proclamation is intended to help raise awareness about the importance of safe building planning and constructing.

“The theme for 2018 encourages all Americans to raise awareness of building safety and resilient construction, which ensures that the places where we live, learn, work and play are safe. It also recognizes that countless lives have been saved due to the implementation of safety codes by local and state agencies,” Pinto explained.

The Building Safety Month proclamation recognizes code officials for allowing structural development and economic growth within the Royal Palm Beach community.

• The council proclaimed the week of May 20 as the village’s National Public Works Week. The proclamation is in honor of the public works officials who devotedly work to enhance residents’ health, safety, comfort and quality of life.

“The efficiency of the qualified and dedicated personnel who staff the Public Works Department is materially influenced by [the public’s] attitude and understanding of the importance of the work they perform,” Pinto said.