Gulf Stream: Information key to annexation vote

By Steve Plunkett

Should Gulf Stream annex the portion of the county pocket just to its north?
Voters in both areas may be asked the question on March’s ballot. Town Manager William H. Thrasher was told to report back to the Town Commission in December on pluses and minuses of the proposal.
At stake are property taxes from $93 million in assessed value and official say-so over what developers can and cannot build in the pocket area between St. Andrews Club and Sea Road on both sides of State Road A1A.
The county wants municipalities to annex unincorporated pockets and enclaves; and because it, too, borders this pocket, Boynton Beach is eligible to annex it.
“Ballentrae has for some time been very interested in annexing into Gulf Stream, even though their taxes might go up a little bit,’’ said attorney Ken Spillias, representing its condominium association.
Town commissioners reviewed the steps they would have to take to annex the pocket at their November meeting. First, the town would have to prepare an annexation report showing how the proposed annexation area would receive municipal services. Then it would have to hold two public hearings and adopt an ordinance proposing the annexation. Then the referendum would take place.
Consulting planners Urban Design Kilday Studios said preparing the report with accompanying maps and graphics would cost $17,500.
Time is short. Town Attorney John Randolph said the county Supervisor of Elections Office would need to know the referendum’s wording by February. Spillias, who also is town attorney for Ocean Ridge, said he had been told the deadline was January.
“If we’re going to do it, we want to get it done [quickly] so we can get it on the tax roll,’’ Mayor William F. Koch Jr. said.
Spillias told commissioners taxes aren’t the only benefit of annexation.
“There are areas in the county pocket that without question down the road are going to be looking at redevelopment,’’ he said. “One big advantage to annexation is that you then will have control over how that property is redeveloped.’’
Bob Ganger, president of both the Florida Coalition for Preservation and the Gulf Stream Civic Association, said the county’s current zoning rules would allow multifamily structures as high as 100 feet, despite a county policy not to increase population density on the barrier island.
The Civic Association would be happy to help educate the town’s voters on the merits of annexation, Ganger said.
“The worst we can do, as we learned from the ethics issue, is to have an uninformed electorate voting their gut and not their brain,’’ he said.
Town officials had hoped Gulf Stream voters would say no to the county’s ethics watchdog proposal on the November ballot, in part to avoid the extra expense of the new office.
Commissioners agreed that voters would need good information to make a decision.
“I would ask that the town manager and his staff thoroughly vet the pros and cons of this and put it in concise form that we can then disseminate to the residents so they’re informed when they vote,’’ Commissioner Chris Wheeler said.
Danny Brannon, the town’s consultant on burying its utility lines, pointed out another plus: Pocket residents will benefit from the underground project but would not have to pay their share, about $160,000, unless they are annexed. “That’s just one more reason to do it,’’ he said.
After the meeting, Ganger said he was “very encouraged’’ by the commission’s push to explore annexation.
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
42 minutes ago
Pippi posted an event
yesterday
Pippi posted an event
yesterday
Mary Kate Leming posted photos
yesterday
Pippi posted an event
Thursday
Pippi posted an event
Jan 13
Pippi posted an event
Jan 12
Pippi posted an event
Jan 12
Pippi posted an event
Jan 10
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
Jan 8
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BRINY BREEZES
Jan 8
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jan 8
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jan 7
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jan 6
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jan 5
Pippi posted an event
Jan 3
Pippi posted an event
Jan 3
Pippi posted an event
Jan 3
Pippi posted an event
Jan 3
Pippi posted an event
Jan 3
More…