By Steve Plunkett
Following the sweeping November victory of a citizen initiative to reserve all city-owned land on the Intracoastal Waterway for public uses, the City Council has introduced an ordinance to change the Wildflower parcel’s land use and zoning.
The referendum, which voters approved by a 2-1 margin, limits use of such land to “public recreation, public boating access, public streets, and city storm water uses only.” City staff initiated the land-use and zoning changes as a result.
“I recommend that the City Council introduce and thereafter approve the accompanying city-initiated ordinance amending the future land-use map of the comprehensive plan from C to PR for the subject property,” City Manager Leif Ahnell wrote council members for their May 23 meeting. “Concurrent with this proposed request is a city-initiated rezoning of the amendment site from Local Business (B-1) to Public Land (PL).”
C is the comprehensive plan’s label for commercial land, while PR is for recreation and open space.
Meanwhile, a group led by a former Chamber of Commerce president dropped its challenge to the referendum. ForBoca.org first filed a lawsuit to upend the initiative, then said it would complain to a hearing officer.
“ForBoca.org has decided not to pursue an administrative hearing,” Gerald Richman, its attorney, said May 23.
This is the second time in less than a year council members altered the designations for the vacant land at 551 E. Palmetto Park Road, which Boca Raton bought in 2009 for $7.5 million. In July, they changed part of the parcel from residential to commercial to accommodate a long-planned restaurant.
The Nov. 8 vote derailed that idea. The city now is planning a passive park for the site.
In other business:
• Council members gave city staff the go-ahead May 9 to draw up an interlocal agreement to issue up to $24 million in municipal bonds that would allow the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District to buy the 214-acre Ocean Breeze golf course.
Before finalizing the deal, however, Mayor Susan Haynie said she wants to know how much Palm Beach County paid to build its very profitable Osprey Point golf course.
At a joint meeting of the Beach & Park District with the council May 8, Arthur Koski, the district’s executive director, said $24 million “may seem like a lot of money, and it is.”
“What I can assure you is that in 20 years it will seem like a bargain,” Koski said.
• The council approved hiring Applied Technology and Management Inc. to develop architectural plans for the restoration of Lake Wyman and Rutherford parks.
• It also gave the Florida Inland Navigation District an ingress agreement to a FIND spoil area inside Spanish River Park in exchange for a 25-year lease of FIND’s spoil island in the Intracoastal just east of Lake Wyman.
Boca Raton will pay $100 a year in rent.
By Steve Plunkett