Royal Palm Finalizes Budget And Cracks Down On Nightclubs

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council gave final approval to its $44.5 million budget for fiscal year 2018-19 on Thursday, Sept. 20.

There were no public comments on the budget, and as staff made no changes to the budget since the last public hearing, there was little discussion among council members.

The tax rate of 1.92 mills is unchanged from the current year. However, due to rising property values, the figure is 5.86 percent above the rolled-back rate of 1.8137 mills.

There was a lengthy discussion about the status of nightclubs in the village between the council and staff. At present, there is no definition of “nightclub” in the village code, which complicates the matter.

The village attorney reported that the line between a restaurant and a nightclub had become increasingly blurred. Several businesses within the village have been operating as a restaurant during the day and then clearing tables at night for a dance floor with live entertainment and no food.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had received several complaints about these establishments in terms of both noise and public behavior. They were described as a threat to the health, safety and welfare of village residents.

The consensus among the council, staff and the PBSO was that such establishments were inappropriate for areas zoned for neighborhood commercial.

The council unanimously adopted the first reading of an ordinance that provided a definition in the code for “nightclubs,” which would allow them to be prohibited. Only facilities that offer a full menu and seek approval will be permitted to have live music going forward.

In other business:

• Councilwoman Jan Rodusky championed an Art In Public Places resolution that would set standards for public artwork to be included with new large-scale industrial and commercial development within Royal Palm Beach.

Both the resolution to approve Art in Public Places and the following resolution to appoint the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission as the Public Art Advisory Board passed unanimously.

There was one public comment against the Planning & Zoning Commission being appointed as the advisory board, questioning the board’s ability to judge artwork due to the lack of artists on the commission.

• The council voted unanimously to approve a request by Cypress Key to divide a 9.82-acre plat at the northwest corner of Cypress Head Avenue and Southern Blvd. into four smaller plats. Nothing changed in terms of zoning or what could be developed. Proposed developments for the site include inline stores, as well as healthcare, memory care and day care facilities.

• The council unanimously approved a request by Potter’s House of West Palm Beach to move into a larger space within the Royal Plaza South shopping center. This required modifying a council-imposed condition.

• Mayor Fred Pinto spoke about the presentation from the Florida Department of Transportation’s long-range transportation plan (LRTP). He said it calls for a $750 million widening of Florida’s Turnpike, including express lanes with tolls. He added that Royal Palm Beach was one of only four communities to vote against the proposal. “We should not be focusing on spending dollars to put more cars on the road,” Pinto said. “We need to change our thinking to other modes of transportation.”

Keeping on the subject of transportation, Pinto encouraged village residents to embrace Palm Tran’s new route optimization known as RPM, which goes into effect on Sunday, Sept. 30. RPM increases frequency on Route 52, which serves Royal Palm Beach.

• Councilman Jeff Hmara was appointed to the Florida League of Cities transportation board. He informed the council that although it was not on the agenda, he had begun pressing the board on multimodal transportation, which met with approval from Pinto.

• The council discussed whether the newly renovated and expanded Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center should have a name. Village Manager Ray Liggins said that after consultations, he believed the best policy would be to leave the name as it was. Pinto suggested calling it the “new” Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center. The facility’s largest room will be called the grand ballroom. The smaller banquet rooms will be named for the village’s original developments of Willows, La Mancha, Colony and Crestwood. No date has been set for the Cultural Center’s opening, but an event has been booked for New Year’s Eve. On a related note, the banquet room at the Commons Park Sporting Center will be named the Sunset Banquet Room at Commons.

• Rodusky promoted walk to school day on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Among the schools holding events that day will be H.L. Johnson Elementary School.