By Thomas R. Collins

Since Boynton Beach brought up the idea of annexing pieces of unincorporated barrier island land, several residents have made it known that they’d prefer to be part of Gulf Stream instead.

As a result, Gulf Stream town officials have asked Boynton Beach to cancel a 6-year-old agreement with the town, an action that would pave the way for the town to usher an incorporated pocket into its borders.

But the town is getting some resistance from Boynton Beach.

In 2004, Gulf Stream agreed to allow Boynton Beach to annex the land as long as the city kept new development to six units per acre and about three stories in height.

After receiving letters from residents who say they want to be part of Gulf Stream, the town became interested in considering annexation, Gulf Stream Town Manager Bill Thrasher said.

“It would be inappropriate for any real conversation to take place about annexation without first rescinding this agreement,” Thrasher said, cautioning that whether actually to seek annexation still hasn’t been decided by the Town Commission.

Interest from the county in divesting itself of the pockets was heightened after a barrier island resident died following a slow county emergency response. Boynton Beach then considered making the barrier island part of an annexation study now under way, although it eventually dropped the island land from its current review.

Boynton Beach Commissioner Steven Holzman said the city should not simply sign away its rights to annex the barrier island property, saying oceanside land would improve the city’s image.

“I would like for Boynton Beach at some point to look at the viability of annexing the properties on the other side of the Intracoastal,” he said. “I think it is a growth area of the city.”

At his suggestion, Boynton commissioners asked for a written report from Gulf Stream on its plans for the property before they consider doing away with the 2004 agreement.

Boynton Mayor Jose Rodriguez said at Boynton’s last commission meeting that he wasn’t inclined to put up much of a fight. “Ultimately, I don’t know if the legal battle is worth the gain.”

Annexation would have to be approved by the residents in the pocket.

Gulf Stream resident Bob Ganger, of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, said the group would feel more comfortable with the land in Gulf Stream’s hands because of the town’s tendency toward low-rise development. He said the coalition prompted residents in the pocket to make their wishes known.

With Gulf Stream Town Hall so close by, many residents already thought they were Gulf Stream-ers, he said.

“It never occurred to them that they don’t live in Gulf Stream.”

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