Royal Palm Beach Zoners Approve New Metro Diner Site Plan

A new Metro Diner location received site plan approval at the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission held Tuesday, May 22.

The restaurant will be located in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza at the northwest corner of Southern Blvd. and Lamstein Lane.

Also on the agenda, local Chevron and Exxon gas stations received approval to upgrade their monument pricing signs to red and green light emitting diodes (LED) that are uniform with other locations of the brands.

Village staff recommended approval of the three projects, determining that the applications meet the village’s standard. All passed unanimously and will now go before the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

Metro Diner, along with an adjacent dental office, will be built on the last remaining outparcel pad of the 348,000-square-foot shopping complex anchored by a Costco store. Originally, the development’s master plan had called for a single eatery at the location, so grease traps were installed as part of previous infrastructure construction.

The plan calls for the relocation of the trash bins so as not to impede traffic coming in from the deceleration lane off of Southern Blvd. This will necessitate the removal of an oak tree that will be replaced, and the landscaping that has died or been damaged by storms over the years will be restored to original code requirements.

There was some discussion as to whether the tree could be moved. “It is a small tree and not a specimen tree, and [such trees] often die if replanted,” said Michael Carr, representing the applicant.

Royal Palm Beach Development Review Coordinator Kevin Erwin said that it would be cheaper to replace the tree with another tree that met code requirements, adding that all the vegetation would be improved as part of the overall project.

Architect James Cohen presented the color palette and material samples, explaining that Metro Diner’s building will be consistent in color and architecture with the existing buildings in the shopping center, with the addition of green awnings that are a signature feature of the restaurant. The restaurant will also offer outdoor seating.

Founded in Jacksonville, Metro Diner prides itself on making everyone “feel like a local.” With locations in 11 states, it advertises a commitment to creating dishes from scratch using local ingredients, unique recipes, imaginative twists on favorites and an award-winning presentation. With 25 locations in Florida, it is just beginning to expand into Palm Beach County.

Commissioner Ray Nazareth commended the project and welcomed the business to the community, and Commission Chair June Perrin agreed. “You stole my thunder,” she said, reiterating Nazareth’s comments.

The gas station signs, one located on Royal Palm Beach Blvd. and one on Okeechobee Blvd., will remain the same size as they are currently. The intensity will be adjustable should there be complaints that the LEDs are excessively bright. Landscaping will also be restored as part of these projects.

The final half of the meeting was devoted to training for the board members. Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that she would spend about 20 minutes covering valuable information at each of the next two meetings, so it wouldn’t become too monotonous. “I need a quorum, so you can’t leave. You are a captive audience,” she joked.

She explained the role of the board.

“You have two main functions: a legislative function and a quasi-judicial function,” Ashton said, commenting that her objective was to make sure that the decisions of the board were not ever overturned in legal proceedings. “You sit as the Local Planning Agency and as the Planning & Zoning Commission.”

She highlighted the duties for the newly seated members and explained that their recommendations then go before the Royal Palm Beach Village Council, which makes the final decision to accept or reject their findings.