The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval Tuesday, June 29 of a zoning text amendment to allow birthing centers in the community. The commissioners also approved new pavers and lighting for the Tuttle Blvd. Bridge.
Birthing Center applicant Nelson Posada said his amendment upgrades requirements for birthing centers, requiring a medical doctor to be on hand, although licensed nurses and midwives could perform the service for noncomplicated pregnancies.
Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said the applicant proposed an amendment to the zoning code to allow birthing centers as a special exception use in the general commercial zoning district, specifically for Posada’s location at 1490 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., as well as any other birthing centers that apply.
Posada explained that his center will be a medical facility, but with special requirements for birthing centers.
“It’s a medical clinic,” he said. “We have contracts with the hospitals, the closest hospital being Palms West. Our physicians are contracted with Palms West, and we belong to the hospitals through contract. We will only be doing low-risk births on a select few patients that have no abnormality of any kind and are fairly healthy women. Anything above that is, obviously, going to the hospital.”
Posada said his birthing model is medical doctor driven.
“We are going to have medical doctors at our birth center,” he said. “Most of the time, birthing centers or home deliveries are done by midwives, which we are going to have, but more so, this is going to be an MD model with more security and more safety standards to the practice.”
Posada said he had been working on the concept for quite some time.
“We really want to get this going, and I think it’s going to be quite phenomenal and an opportunity for people in this community to have as an alternative source of birthing, rather than having to go to the hospital,” he said.
Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate Lauren McClellan asked if this was a category that could fit under a medical office use, and O’Brien said staff had researched the birthing center more thoroughly because it is new.
“Whenever we have these requests, we do not want to go out too far on a limb,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to evaluate this use to see if there were any hidden pitfalls.”
He added that staff recommended approval under the condition that it be a special exception use approval, with each application receiving individual evaluation.
Planning & Zoning Commission Alternate Gerald Brown asked Posada if he was a medical doctor himself, and Posada said that he was a non-physician owner.
Brown asked why Posada had not asked a physician to come with him to help him with the presentation, and Posada said he was with the administrative side of the facility.
McClellan made a motion to recommend approval of the application, which carried 4-1 with Brown dissenting.
In other business, the commissioners recommended architectural approval for new pavers and lighting on the Tuttle Blvd. Bridge.
O’Brien said the applicant was requesting the change for the bridge, which crosses the C-51 Canal about 3,500 feet west of State Road 7.
“The applicant is requesting carriage-style light fixtures, both pier-mounted and pole-mounted, with aluminum railing with bronze finish, and tiles on certain areas of the walls,” he said. “The applicant is also proposing a decorative pattern of brick pavers designed to emulate palm fronds.”
O’Brien said staff is recommending a condition of approval to require a permit modification from the South Florida Water Management District to make the application consistent with the village’s approval plans.
Project Manager Yoan Machado said the light fixtures are consistent with the lights on the bridge and throughout the development, and pointed out that the changes had received recommendations of approval from village staff.
Brown asked if any structural adjustments had been made to the bridge, and Machado said there had not.
Vice Chair Philip Marquis made a motion to recommend approval, which carried 5-0.