The Wellington Village Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9 featured the village’s annual grant awards to local schools.
Principals from 10 of the community’s 11 Palm Beach County School District schools were on hand to receive their Keely Spinelli Grant awards. A total of $330,000 in grants were awarded, with each school receiving $30,000. This is up slightly from the $297,000 awarded by the village last year.
A video package introduced by Community Services Director Paulette Edwards highlighted the school projects that past grant money was used for. Those in attendance gave a loud cheer when the focus of the video turned to Principal Darren Edgecomb and Palm Beach Central High School.
Palm Beach County School Board Member Marcia Andrews addressed the council, thanking them for their continued support on education and praising the legacy of Keely Spinelli. Spinelli was a former principal of Binks Forest Elementary School who passed away in 2008 at age 46 after a long battle with cancer.
Each Wellington principal was introduced by Palm Beach County School District Central Region Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriguez. Rodriguez informed the council that he would return at a council meeting prior to the election to discuss the proposed one-mill levy for the school district on the Tuesday, Nov. 6 ballot.
The council also used the evening to honor the year’s Top Cop and Top Firefighter as chosen by Wellington’s Public Safety Committee.
Chosen from the ranks of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was Detective Dan Delia. Delia previously served with the New York Police Department before “retiring” to Wellington and joining the PBSO. He was active in juvenile policing, which aided him when he solved several prominent cases, such as a home burglary and a jewelry theft at the Mall at Wellington Green.
Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue was represented by Capt. Bob Dawson. Dawson was selected due to his years of service to the department with the emphasis that he spent four years training others. Among those Dawson trained were part of a unit currently deployed to the Florida panhandle to assist with Hurricane Michael.
“[The firefighters] and the police are our heroes,” Mayor Anne Gerwig told Dawson prior to presenting him his award.
The council also received an award at the meeting. David Dearth, park manager at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, was on hand from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to present the council with a Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grant. The purpose of the money is to improve Scott’s Place Playground, which is one of the most popular parks in the village. Among the proposed upgrades to the playground include improved shading.
The single agenda item to be voted on was a resolution on the approval of the revised Chapter 7 of Wellington’s land development regulations. Chapter 7 deals largely with signage and maintenance issues, such as tree and vegetation removal.
Planning, Zoning & Building Director Bob Basehart and Development Review Coordinator Cory Lyn Cramer were on hand to give a presentation about the proposed changes.
At the Sept. 12 meeting of the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board, Basehart and Cramer gave a similar presentation. At that time, they requested that the board approve Chapter 7 with one noteworthy change.
At present, if a property owner wishes to remove 30 percent or more of the vegetation from the property, they are required to seek permitting approval. Basehart told the council that they rarely receive requests for this type of permit.
However, a hedge on Forest Hill Blvd. was recently removed that constituted less than 30 percent and, therefore, did not require permitting or approval. In order to prevent further such occurrences, Basehart and Cramer requested that the 30 percent threshold be lowered to 10 percent. The PZA board agreed and voted unanimously to adopt Chapter 7 with the revised 10 percent included.
When the same matter came before the council, Gerwig, Vice Mayor Michael Drahos and Councilman Michael Napoleone expressed concern about the change.
“I’m thinking of the hypothetical scenario where I hire a landscape company to come redo my front yard — they’re going to take out a couple crotons and some palm trees,” Drahos said. “How does the landscape architect know? I guess he’s got to figure out what 10 percent of the total or 30 percent of the total is, and he’s going to charge me a permit for it? I’d never heard of this.”
Napoleone added that the change could get unnecessarily complicated.
“I’d like to not add another layer of complication and bureaucracy to the private homeowner who has to take out some hedges, and they’ve got to go from 30 percent now to 10 percent, which seems like a pretty small number to have to deal with and to have to worry about a permit,” he said. “So, if we can limit that to landscape buffers along thoroughfares and still drop that to 10 percent, that’s fine, but I don’t want to be burdening homeowners with potential permit fees and another layer of hassle.”
Napoleone made a motion to approve the new Chapter 7, but with a change to require the new 10 percent vegetation removal threshold only on landscape buffers. The modified resolution was approved unanimously.