Outgoing Indian Trail Improvement District Supervisor Ralph Bair recently asked for a consensus of the board for support of an incorporation effort underway for The Acreage community.
Bair, who has served on the board on and off since 1996, did not file for re-election in November, but said he has taken up a new cause, to support incorporation of The Acreage as a private citizen. He is supporting the efforts of a local group, Preserve the Lifestyle of The Acreage Now (PLAN).
“This could be passed by the legislature and then brought back to the people for a vote, because only the people can do it,” Bair said at the June 20 meeting. “It’s not something that Indian Trail can do.”
Bair added that an independent municipality would be eligible for far more revenue than ITID.
“The city or the town, whatever it is called, can only help, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “Just give it a chance, so people can know what’s going on, because not many people have actually seen the plan.”
ITID President Betty Argue said she did not oppose incorporation, but did not see anything new in the material that Bair had supplied to board members.
“What’s in this backup, it has not been validated by our engineer or staff,” Argue said. “I don’t disagree. I’ve had the same discussions, and I have some of the same concerns. What I have a concern with, with respect to the proposed plan, and I have been very vocal about this, is as it relates to Indian Trail. Indian Trail is not just The Acreage. Indian Trail is 110 square miles, and right now we are talking to someone in each one of the other areas that are not activated about activating their units to provide services to them. This incorporation plan, the comments that came back from the legislature, proposes that the boundaries of the district need to be the same as the boundaries of the proposed incorporation area.”
Bair responded that the units not in the proposed incorporation area are contract units and not activated.
Argue said what she understood was that the board would need to amend its boundaries to correspond with the present size of The Acreage, minus units 16, 17 and 18, which are located within the Village of Royal Palm Beach.
Bair added that the municipality would retain the retail at Orange Blvd. and Seminole Pratt Whitney Road as a municipal tax base. He said that a number of details have been worked out by PLAN and incorporation supporters.
“I’m not talking about excluding from the board any information,” he said. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know; anything I come up with as a solution.”
Bair was an early supporter of the first Acreage incorporation effort in 2002. He pointed out that since that time, the area had lost a lot of revenue, as well as the ability to have more control over local development issues.
“We’ve lost probably million[s] in taxes and road fees and stuff like that,” he said. “This is something that can help the district do what it is supposed to do.”
The 2002 effort ended when incorporation supporters were voted off the board in an anti-incorporation backlash.
Bair added that being a municipality entails other advantages.
“I’m not proposing that this is a fix for the district,” he said. “But we can change things like golf carts, small things that make the life of some of the people a lot better.”
Argue pointed out that Bair had said at an earlier meeting that it was outside the authority of ITID to pursue incorporation.
“The only issue that I see for board support is the boundaries issue,” Argue said. “In order for the current plan to move forward, it requires a companion bill that would amend the boundaries of the district to match what The Acreage is.”
Bair said all he was asking for was consensus of the board so that he could investigate further.
Argue felt that incorporation of The Acreage within its current boundaries is not sustainable without including the inactivated units.
“I also don’t think that it solves some of the potential development issues,” she said. “We’ve been talking with GL Homes about them becoming an activated unit of Indian Trail. If you exclude them from our boundaries, how do we address that in terms of our negotiations right now?”
Argue added that including the units not activated yet would give a new municipality the ability to control what develops there.
Supervisor Tim Sayre pointed out that he has opposed incorporation, adding that he has been receiving conflicting information on potential revenue to a municipality. Sayre added that he was also concerned about plans to cut the municipality down to 38 square miles when the area of the district is 110 square miles.
“If we’re going to do this, do it for the entire [area] so we can control zoning and future planned communities to the west of us,” he said.
Argue said that she would like to discuss all the issues of incorporation in a more informal workshop.
“Potentially, it is going to have to come before the board for support. We can’t talk about this outside this room,” Argue said. “I think we need to have a forum, a workshop, or something that we talk about this.”
Bair said that would need to happen soon if there was going to be action on incorporation by 2020.
Argue asked if the board could schedule a workshop with details to be coordinated by staff, and the board agreed.