Truckers Running On Hope Alone After Commission Vote

The end of the road may be in sight for big-rig truckers in The Acreage after the Palm Beach County Commission voted against a plan that would have allowed them to park two tractor-trailer rigs on their property.

After a preliminary vote on Thursday, Jan. 25, a final vote is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22.

“It’s a big disappointment,” said Natalia Melian, one of the chief organizers behind the area’s “Save Our Truckers” movement. “They’ve been talking about a path forward for two years, and then nothing… We’re going to give it one more shot.”

Melian said some 150 truckers and supporters met Saturday, Feb. 3 at Palm Beach County’s Samuel Friedland Park, located at 18500 Hamlin Blvd. Another meeting is planned for this Saturday, Feb. 10 at the same location, beginning at 10 a.m.

Burgess Hanson, executive director of the Indian Trail Improvement District, which includes The Acreage, said this week that he feels for the truckers, but allowing big-rig parking throughout the district would have an enormous negative impact on the area’s roads, drainage and finances.

In November, commissioners voted to advance the ordinance that would have allowed two vehicles over 16,000 pounds to park on residential properties in The Acreage. Typically, tractor-trailers rigs weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

At the Jan. 25 meeting, commissioners Marci Woodward and Mack Bernard changed their votes. Commissioner Gregg Weiss was out of town but made his feelings clear in a statement released by staff that said, in part, “It’s bad policy… It sets a terrible precedent.”

Commissioner Sara Baxter, who has championed the truckers’ cause, said this week that she’s not giving up ahead of the Feb. 22 vote.

“I’m holding out hope that my fellow commissioners don’t put truckers at risk by taking away their livelihood,” she said.

Baxter said there is “compelling evidence” in the records of the county’s Unified Land Development Code dating back two decades that includes semi-trucks in the definition of commercial vehicles (2003-67, pg. 229) allowed to be parked at homes in agricultural-residential areas such as The Acreage. The code also states that commercial vehicles, as previously defined, are specifically allowed in agricultural-residential districts, Baxter said, citing ULDC 2008-037, pg. 28.

Much of the confusion comes from what Baxter describes as a “typo” on page 4 of the 2008-003 ULDC update that inadvertently adds the word “not” when referencing semis and other large trucks, contradicting the other language in the amendment defining commercial vehicles.

“I think if the county refuses [to allow the semis], we’re opening ourselves up to a lawsuit,” she said, while conceding that the county attorney’s office does not agree with her conclusions about the ULDC language.

Hanson said that, depending on the outcome of the final vote, either side could take legal action.

ITID is responsible for 96 miles of paved roads, 283 miles of dirt roads and 57 miles of milled roads.

If the area’s 17,000 lots were to become a trucker haven with hundreds or even thousands of big rigs on its roads, the cost of upgrading and maintaining roads to handle them could be as much as $1.5 billion, according to ITID officials. That would average out to an assessment of approximately $55,500 per acre for all ITID property owners, since the district gets no federal, state or county money for its roads.

“I’m not trying to shock people or be sensational,” Hanson said. “That’s the real number. And it doesn’t include changes to drainage… [or] the ongoing maintenance of existing roads while the new construction is done.”

Part of the proposed ordinance ups the weight limit for commercial vehicle parking from 12,500 to 16,000 pounds and allows for two vehicles instead of one. The change should allow most large delivery vehicles and lawn maintenance haulers to park on their residential lots.

ITID President Elizabeth Accomando disputes Baxter’s contention that tractor-trailers have been permitted by code in The Acreage for some 20 years.

“It hasn’t been allowed since 1992,” she said.

Despite that, Accomando said, the number of residents with tractor-trailer rigs has been increasing in The Acreage since state officials began pushing truckers out of Miami-Dade and Broward counties a few years ago.

It has increased from approximately 50 in 2018 to at least 600 today, and perhaps more than 1,000, she said, adding that she expects that number to rapidly grow if The Acreage becomes the only location in South Florida where truckers can park their rigs at their residence.

“We cannot as a district accommodate 30,000 semi-trucks,” she said. “I feel for the truckers… [but] I have a responsibility to make decisions for the entire district.”

Accomando said she also is concerned that while many of the trailers will come in empty, some will not, and what is in those trailers could pose a danger to neighbors or to the entire area. She does, however, support two commercial vehicles per lot with a 16,000-pound weight limit for each.

“Everyone has property rights,” she said. “I’m not trying to shut down someone’s business, but we cannot allow The Acreage to become industrialized.”

For more on the ordinances cited by Baxter, visit