At a meeting Thursday, Sept. 21, the Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved plans for a new daycare center in the community and gave final approval to Royal Palm Brewing Company’s expansion plans after more than a year of discussion.
Kingswood Academy is looking to open its fourth location in Palm Beach County, and its first in Royal Palm Beach. The daycare operator recently purchased the vacant former CVS Pharmacy building at 10245 Okeechobee Blvd. in the Cobblestone Village shopping plaza and was seeking the necessary architectural approvals and site plan modifications to retrofit the one-acre site with an 11,200-square-foot existing building for use as a daycare facility.
Kingswood was represented at the meeting by Jon Schmidt of the land planning firm Schmidt Nichols.
Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained that not all criteria at the property were up to the village code. Staff recommended adding a condition of approval that included all signage meet dimensional and setback requirements. The applicant agreed to those conditions without issue.
The child daycare center will serve up to 240 children, and a waiting list for enrollment has already begun. One highlight in the reconfiguration is the creation of a 16,000-square-foot outdoor play area.
Councilwoman Selena Samios, however, was unsure about the proximity of the play area to Okeechobee Blvd.
“My concern is what is south of the building, because then that is parallel from Okeechobee,” she said. “From a parental standpoint, I know it’s fenced in and everything, but with the amount of traffic that goes through there, I’ve seen car accidents on that corner.”
Schmidt responded that in addition to the fencing, an additional 50 to 60 feet separates the space from the road. Samios also expressed worries about the exhaust and air quality from the busy roadway.
“Actually, that was a staff concern, so we went into pretty intensive air quality reviews,” Schmidt said. “There’s an air quality review station here in Royal Palm Beach on Lamstein Lane. We’re about 1.8 miles from that location, but staff was still concerned with it, so I went and bought an air quality monitor, and we’ve been monitoring those ever since.”
The data collected was included in the submission to village staff, and readings were all fairly low and show very good air quality standards, Schmidt said.
“The kids only spend an hour at a time outside, and we are committed to that and happy to add it as a condition of approval that they will continue to monitor it,” he said.
The site plan modifications to the location, along with building paint color, landscape additions and signage were approved 5-0.
Also at the meeting, Royal Palm Brewing Company breathed a sigh of relief after 546 days of working to get final approval for the company’s request for the opportunity to expand its square footage, including the permanent addition of outdoor seating, which had previously been allowed during the pandemic.
“We are at almost $9,000 in what it has cost us to get to this point and, quite honestly, we are just ready for a resolution,” owner George Shetka said. “We are a nano brewery, which means we make less than 2,000 barrels of beer annually. We have a restaurant license. Microbrews make 2,000 barrels or more. We are not a microbrew.”
Royal Palm Brewing Company is located at 543 N. State Road 7, Suite 103, in the Commons at Royal Palm shopping plaza. Its proximity to a residential neighborhood is one of the items that has held up the outdoor seating approval.
Shetka presented a letter from the neighboring Bella Terra community in support of the request to keep the outdoor seating, along with details on how the business operates and earns revenue.
“Everybody will tell you that you can’t survive on distribution alone. Again, the reason we distribute is we want to keep the beer fresh. People want variety. You can only sell so much out of the tap room,” Shetka said.
When Samios inquired why more square footage wasn’t requested, he responded, “We were told ask for what you need, not what you want. It’s a smart thing to do because I could go out of control. I’m not opposed to being held in check.”
When it was time for a final decision, the requests for permanent outdoor seating and an increase in square footage passed 4-1 with Samios dissenting. A companion request to specially allow the 189 feet of outdoor seating passed unanimously.
In other business:
- The council heard a set of requests from Centerpoint Integrated Solutions LLC, regarding the expansion of the existing CarMax dealership located at 10501 Southern Blvd.
The first request for a landscape waiver was not supported by the Planning & Zoning Commission or village staff at a meeting in August, and the applicants received little support from the council either.
“Staff is not in support because staff believes that there are multiple other car dealerships with similar circumstances that have provided these landscape terminal islands, and that they argued many of the same contentions as CarMax, but ultimately decided to provide the striping and terminal islands,” O’Brien explained.
Attorney Christina Bilenki with the firm Dunay, Miskel and Backman LLP was one of the representatives for CarMax. She argued that the land was vacant for 30 years until CarMax purchased it. Mayor Fred Pinto was not impressed.
“Quite frankly, I don’t know why you went into this context about how many years it has been vacant. One of the reasons why that property was vacant so long is because we chose it to be,” Pinto said. “We had many developers wanting to rezone this land here. We said no, we want it to be used the way it’s zoned. That’s the primary reason for why it was vacant for that long.”
Despite additional presentations from CarMax representatives John Thatcher and Brian Pulsifer explaining there would be more landscaping overall, just that the vegetation would be pushed to the perimeter of the property, the council was not moved.
Before the other companion request for site plan approval was officially heard, Bilenki asked the council for permission to pull the items and work with staff on alternative site plans. The council agreed to table the requests but did not set a future hearing date.
- At a brief budget hearing before the regular meeting, the council gave final approval to the village’s spending plan for the new fiscal year, keeping the property tax rate set at 1.92 mills. The rate has not changed since 2010.
- Gina Levesque, intake and compliance manager for the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, provided a brief presentation about the goals of the department to monitor and support the 12,000-plus elected officials, public employees, advisory board members and lobbyists in the county.
- Councilman Jeff Hmara announced that the next Read for the Record event is set for Thursday, Oct. 26. The national event where thousands of volunteers read the same book to children across the country on the same day is locally hosted by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. This year’s book is With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez.