Without objections, the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation accepted the Indian Trail Improvement District’s local bill to allow the study of incorporation on Thursday, Jan. 7 at a hearing held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
State Rep. Rick Roth (R-District 85), who sponsored the bill, noted that it was the second year that the bill has been submitted.
“It was approved unanimously by our delegation last year,” Roth said.
The bill died in committee last year and never made it to the floor for a vote.
“This is an incorporation bill, and we did make a change in order to require 10 percent of residents to sign a petition in order to be able to have a referendum to incorporate,” Roth said. “This is a good bill, and I believe an appropriate way to move forward for the Indian Trail Improvement District.”
ITID President Betty Argue said her board had approved resubmission of the bill. She pointed out that ITID has grown since it was created in 1957 for water management purposes.
“Indian Trail now maintains not only 162.4 miles of canals, but also nine rural and equestrian parks and more than 458 miles of roads,” she said.
ITID was created for the purpose of reclaiming the lands within its boundaries for water control and water supply, as well as protecting the boundaries from the effects of water by using construction and maintenance of canals, ditches, levees and dykes, pumping plants and other works and improvements, Argue explained. The legislative boundaries include about 17,000 lots encompassing 110-plus square miles, along with citrus groves and sugar cane production. As a special district, ITID provides drainage, road grading, road improvements, and parks and recreation programming.
“We are the local government for the taxpayers in The Acreage. We have approximately 45,000 residents,” Argue said, explaining that ITID is filing the bill to make necessary boundary revisions to remove, not add, certain lands from the boundaries.
The district also wants to propose a procedure to study the feasibility of an elector-initiated conversion of the district to a municipality, subject to the execution of interlocal agreements with the Village of Royal Palm Beach and the City of Palm Beach Gardens.
She added that over the past several years, there have been attempts by neighborhood groups or individuals to create a municipality. But there has never been a referendum conducted on incorporation.
“After careful consideration, our board felt that the district is the appropriate entity to study the feasibility of the conversion, to review the feasibility study and develop a draft charter with an incorporation committee that includes members of our public, and then to conduct a referendum based on facts and community input,” Argue said. “The referendum could not be done without a 10 percent petition of the registered voters.”
A motion was made to support the bill, which carried without opposition.