Werner Presses Minto Attorney On Westlake Development Plans

The area of Westlake discussed at the meeting.

Westlake Councilman Gary Werner is again pushing for more disclosure about the future uses of privately owned property being platted within the community.

The parcel in question is a 57.5-acre tract on the west side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road between Town Center Parkway North and South. The area is located north of Westlake Plaza Phase II and James Business Park.

“Why are we looking at it at this time?” asked Werner at the Tuesday, May 7 meeting of the Westlake City Council. “It seems to me that the developer might be further along in planning, designing or negotiating. Is that possible?”

Attorney Kathryn Rossmell, representing Minto Communities USA, told the council, “We’re not empowered to speak to you tonight about our client’s plans.”

City Attorney Donald Doody said that under Florida law, there is no requirement for landowners to disclose future uses of property at this stage.

“A preliminary plat in Florida is just that — preliminary,” Doody said. “Further review will come before the city if [there are] subdivided lots, identified parcels or identified infrastructure.”

If a proposed plat meets code requirements, “we don’t have the right to impose conditions or even to deny it,” Doody said.

According to the staff report, “Two reviews of the plat occurred, which resulted in an acceptable plat. The review was done for compliance with… Florida Statutes, and the City of Westlake’s codes and ordinances. All comments have been adequately addressed, and the plat is in compliance. We, therefore, recommend that the plat be approved for recording.”

Councilman Julian Martinez made a motion to approve the plat, which was seconded by Councilwoman Charlotte Leonard. Werner attempted to abstain but was told by Doody that he had to vote yes or no. He voted no. The motion carried 4-1.

“I think it’s premature without knowing what’s going to happen there,” said Werner, a retired city planner from California.

City Manager Kenneth Cassel encouraged interested residents to visit the city’s web site at www.westlakegov.com to view a map of the land use plan as shown in Westlake’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan. The parcel in question was zoned for mixed use.

Mixed use includes “all types of commercial, light industrial and mixed residential,” Cassel explained. “There’s a combination of what can be there… to allow flexibility as the market demands.”

So far, the market in Westlake remains good, Cassel said.

He reported to the council that 394 building permits were issued within the community between Jan. 1 and April 1. That’s slightly below the number issued during the first quarter of 2023. “But we’re still tracking between 1,400 to 1600 [permits] every year,” Cassel said.

In 2023, 1,474 building permits were issued. If the current pace remains steady, the city will issue 1,576 permits. Aside from homes and businesses, permits include such things as construction of fences and pools.

Cassel said there now are more than 2,500 homes in Westlake with a current population of approximately 5,500 residents, including 3,093 registered voters.

This week, Cassel also noted that the KFC restaurant is expected to open this month in the Westlake Landings shopping center and that Planet Fitness is breaking ground. He said a Starbucks, Taco Bell and Tractor Supply also are coming soon.

In other business, the council heard that Feb. 1, 2025, has been set as the date for the second annual Westlake 5K Run/Walk to promote wellness and community spirit.

Martinez, who promoted the walk, said that the inaugural March 16 event raised approximately $2,000, which is being donated to the city’s Education & Youth Advisory Board.

Vice Mayor Greg Langowski reported that the revamped board recently met and chose Anita Kaplan, a retired dean of Palm Beach State College’s bachelor’s degree programs, as its chair.

The board was formed by the council in June 2020 to facilitate communication and coordinate activities between Westlake and the School District of Palm Beach County; to promote awareness of programs, opportunities and initiatives at local schools; to recognize and promote accomplishments of students and administrators; and to monitor school district activities and report back on anything impacting Westlake.

However, the board gained a reputation for lethargy, meeting only nine times in three years. The board was nearly dissolved in September, but a public outcry and a recommendation from Langowski, who serves as the council’s liaison to the board, saved it.

The reconstituted board “was very active” during the recent meeting, Langowski said. “They had lots of ideas,” he added.