RPB Council Takes First Step In Creating New Land Use Category

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

The Village of Royal Palm Beach is planning for the future with the creation of a new land use category called Mixed Use Social Center (MSX). The new MSX designation is envisioned for the central gathering area of the new Tuttle Royale neighborhood.

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved the first reading of a comprehensive plan text amendment on Thursday, June 16. It was the first step in allowing developers to design taller buildings that will utilize the upper floors for residential space and the ground floor for commercial use, such as retail shops.

Vice Mayor Selena Samios dissented in the 4-1 vote for approval.

“My concern, three of them for a fact, were noise issues for the residents, so that tips me off. The height density, the traffic — one thing that residents tell us all the time is the influx that is already on that intersection and what more this will bring,” Samios said. “The size of it scares me, so I’d like to hear why [planning and zoning staff] approved it.”

Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained that the density of MSX projects would be limited in their locations to be used based on the size requirement of 40-plus acres.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said that growth will happen. The village’s job is to create smarter growth.

“Yes, this brings more traffic. A hundred people a day moved to Palm Beach County last year; 1,500 people a day moved to Florida. There is not a law out there you can pass to keep this from happening. They are coming here,” Liggins said. “There’s 22 million people living in Florida now. There will be 35 million people living in Florida 50 years from now. They will come here. Providing them an alternative place to live versus half-acre or quarter-acre lots in the Everglades Agricultural Area between here and Belle Glade might help minimize that from happening. In the urban areas between us and the coast, projects like this are being done by all the cities to give people, the seniors, the young people an alternative. It is more efficient for Florida. It does have the potential of protecting more sensitive lands by doing this. In the meantime, you will get more traffic.”

Other council members were convinced and supported the MSX land use category, as long as it is applied for specific, limited uses.

“I love when we have these discussions,” said Mayor Fred Pinto, who likes the idea of providing transportation options to people outside of cars. “To put another context on this situation, this traffic is not going to be generated from the core of our village. It’s on the outskirts. We are embarking down a path where we need to put in the groundwork to achieve [alternative transportation]. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

In other business:

• The council also approved the final reading of an ordinance requiring residential landlords to provide 60 days’ written notice before terminating a lease or raising rent more than 5 percent. The new ordinance went into effect Thursday, June 26.

• Before the council could finalize an agreement to allow Kool Runnings LLC to lease space and provide ice cream vendor services at Veterans Park, the council heard opposition to the decision from Delsia Brooks Hamilton, CEO of Pangea Grill. Brooks Hamilton felt her company was not given a fair shot in the bidding process for the contract, including points for being a minority and woman-owned business.

The council, staff and village attorney explained that a protest could not be filed until after the agreement was approved. In addition, the village’s purchasing procedures do not differentiate bidders or award points in any categories.

Pinto assured Brooks Hamilton that she would be provided the documents defining the bidding and contesting procedures.