Within minutes after two new members were sworn onto the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors at the Wednesday, Dec. 7 meeting, incorporation for the sprawling, semi-rural community was back on the front burner.
On a 5-0 vote that included recently elected supervisors Elizabeth Accomando and Patricia Farrell, the board set as one of its legislative priorities to support a bill in Tallahassee that would allow the district to involve itself in talks regarding a referendum on the issue.
“This allows the board to speak about it with other entities,” ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said at the meeting. “It allows the district to get back into the process.”
It also would allow Hanson and other staff members to spend time on the issue.
John Rivera, a strong anti-incorporation candidate who lost to incumbent Michael Johnson in November, said Wednesday he was not surprised by how rapidly the referendum push returned to the board’s agenda once the two new supervisors were seated.
“My main opposition to incorporation has been rooted in the push by ITID,” Rivera said. “I don’t think ITID should be involved at all. I don’t think we need more government.”
When a similar bill did not advance last year, the referendum push was turned over to a three-person committee, of which Accomando is a member. The group is in the process of submitting a request to the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation to support a referendum bill during the 2023 session of the Florida Legislature.
As part of the same 5-0 vote, the supervisors officially voiced their support for the bill.
Accomando said she’s happy to see the board back the bill, and she noted that ITID’s attorney has opined that her serving as a supervisor and as member of committee is not a conflict of interest.
Acreage Landowners’ Association President Bob Morgan, who also is a member of the committee, told the supervisors that he plans to attend the Jan. 12 meeting of the legislative delegation in Jupiter to urge their support of the referendum bill. He hopes to get several of the legislators into the district for a tour prior to the meeting, he said.
“I’m hoping the local delegation will give us the right to vote on our future,” Accomando said.
Other legislative priorities adopted by the supervisors include:
• A resolution that would “reiterate and reaffirm” the board’s commitment to seeing State Road 7 extended to Northlake Blvd. Supervisors and residents have often voiced their concern about an excessive number of vehicles using roads in The Acreage as a cut-through between Southern, Okeechobee and Northlake boulevards. “It’s only going to get worse,” ITID Vice President Betty Argue said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
• Seeking $1 million for improvements to the East-West Conveyance Canal. Some $3 million is already available through a grant, making it more likely that the legislature might fund the rest, Hanson said.
• Seeking $200,000 to study how to best use the 640 acres donated to the district for water storage in 2018 by GL Homes. It was part of a deal with ITID and the county to allow development of some 3,600 acres in the northwest portion of the district, including 3,897 homes and 350,000 square feet of commercial space. Development by GL has yet to begin. This fall, the company proposed a land swap supported by ITID that would have cut the number of homes, but the plan has so far failed to gain approval by the Palm Beach County Commission.
• A letter of support to for $16 million in funding to complete the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area levee in the northwest section of the district. The levee project now is under the purview of the South Florida Management District and Palm Beach County.
In other business:
• Accomando and Farrell were welcomed to the board, and Johnson took the oath for a second term. Johnson was re-elected president, Argue was re-elected vice president, Accomando was named treasurer, Farrell was chosen as secretary and Supervisor Keith Jordano was tabbed as assistant secretary.
• The board heard from Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Craig Turner that the county has been “getting hammered” recently by an organized group of car thieves and car burglars.
Turner said during one recent night, five car thefts and nine car burglaries were reported in The Acreage area, noting that three guns left in cars were taken during the spree. Several of the cars were left unlocked with keys inside, he said.
He said the gang has been rotating between The Acreage, Royal Palm Beach and Wellington and “grabbing whatever they can get.”
Turner urged vehicle owners to lock their cars, not leave keys in their cars or anything in plain sight that would catch a thief’s eye. He also noted that PBSO statistics show automobile accidents in the district are up by 8 percent — or 49 events — over this time last year.
Turner also told supervisors that because of a change in state law, all “no trespassing” signs in the county will have to be replaced over the next several months.