By Steve Plunkett
The Boca Raton City Council will tweak a citizen-initiated ordinance that restricts city-owned land on the Intracoastal Waterway to “public recreation, public boating access, public streets and city stormwater uses only” so utilities can work on existing underground conduits.
The issue arose when an unidentified telecommunications company sought a permit to relocate conduit in Spanish River Park.
One reading of the ordinance would be that only “stormwater” and no other utilities are permitted, City Attorney Diana Grub Frieser told council members at their April 9 workshop session. Alternatively, she said, the code could be interpreted to primarily regulate uses at the ground level rather than restricting underground uses.
Council members could give staff direction, Frieser said, either by interpreting the ordinance or amending it.
Deputy Mayor Scott Singer said council members are the ones entrusted with interpreting city code.
“We’ve already had them there. No one ever mentioned, ‘You’ve got to dig up the utilities,’” Singer said, arguing against an amendment.
“I think a reasonable interpretation, based on what we have, is that this is just allowed, staff can proceed augmenting what’s been there and will remain there,” he said.
But council member Monica Mayotte said the council could both interpret the ordinance for the telecommunications firm and amend it for future projects.
Mayor Susan Haynie embraced the amendment option.
“I think clarity’s best,” Haynie said.
Frieser said city staff would proceed with the company’s permit application and that she would bring back a proposed amendment for consideration. The proposal will require a public hearing, she said.
Residents voted 67 percent to 33 percent in 2016 to reject a plan for a restaurant at the city-owned Wildflower parcel on Palmetto Park Road and instead restrict that and similar green spaces to public uses. Consultant EDSA Inc. is developing a plan to make the 2.3 acres a full-featured park.
By Steve Plunkett