The Royal Palm Beach Village Council held its annual reorganizational meeting on Thursday, March 23, and the first item of business was the official swearing-in of Councilman Richard Valuntas and Councilwoman Jan Rodusky for their new terms on the council, which now extend to March 2021.
Rodusky was selected to serve as vice mayor over the next year, a largely ceremonial position appointed annually from amongst the council.
Items discussed on the evening’s agenda ranged from modest design changes to an automotive dealership and the approval of a contract for removing floating canal debris to a series of rezoning ordinances approving density increases to various parcels of the Tuttle Royale project along Southern Blvd. west of State Road 7 that some have called “the City Place of the western communities.”
Mayor Fred Pinto brought the organizational meeting to order by congratulating the newly installed council members. “I want to congratulate Jan Rodusky and Richard Valuntas for winning their hard-fought campaigns. Each deserved victory,” he joked.
An audience of family members and well-wishers laughed, as both incumbents won their seats back unchallenged when no one stepped forward to run against them. It was the first time in a decade that the village has not had an election.
“I am honored to serve on the council for another two years on behalf of my fellow residents in Royal Palm Beach,” Rodusky said. “I take this responsibility very seriously to represent the citizens on matters coming before the council, especially as they align with the mission and strategic plan of the village.”
Next on the organizational agenda was the assignment of each council member’s liaison duties with various village boards and external organizations.
The first decision of the evening was to return Councilwoman Selena Samios as liaison to the Recreation Advisory Board, a position she has held for the last several years.
“Before asking for reassignment to this board, I went to Chair John Riordan and asked whether I am doing well for them or whether they wanted another council member to represent them,” Samios noted, adding that Riordan supported her continued role with the board.
Rodusky was selected to continue her role as liaison to the Planning & Zoning Commission/Local Planning Agency. This commission acts as the local planning agency for the village in accordance with Florida Statutes. It also reviews and makes recommendations to the council on all proposed comprehensive land use plan amendments, site plans, plats, special exceptions, applications for variances and rezoning applications.
Councilman Jeff Hmara retained his position with the Education Advisory Board, which addresses educational issues pertaining to the Village of Royal Palm Beach, reporting back to the council. The board also coordinates the village’s scholarship program for high school seniors. Hmara will also serve as the village’s representative to the Palm Beach County League of Cities, where he is in line to become the next president.
Valuntas will continue to serve as the village’s point person with the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, while Pinto will continue to coordinate with the Western Communities Council.
In other business:
• The council accepted the Fiscal Year 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report after a presentation of its highlights by independent auditor Mark Veil. “Your ample cash reserves would make Royal Palm Beach the envy of many municipalities,” Veil noted in his report.
• In addition to approving a site plan modification to the Mazda dealership on Southern Blvd., the council heard first readings on a series of ordinances that will change zoning on about 47 tracts of land south of Southern Blvd. and west of State Road 7. The former Acme Ranches site of about 50 semi-rural homes and a wildlife sanctuary is being developed into a residential and commercial district known as Tuttle Royale. Many Royal Palm Beach residents are still unclear on the scope of the development, portions of which are only now becoming visible along Southern Blvd. west of Lowe’s.