By Margie Plunkett
Gulf Stream is following the town of Palm Beach’s lead in opposing certain actions of the Intracoastal Waterway master plan, both deeming some items in the plan “a wasteful and unnecessary expansion of government.”
“I think this is something we want to be proactive on,” said Gulf Stream Mayor William F. Koch Jr. during the October commission meeting. Commissioners agreed to authorize a letter from Koch to the county opposing parts of the plan.
The master plan, put together by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, covers 43 miles of Intracoastal and more than 1,000 waterway-related businesses, homes and residential neighborhoods, recreational and eco-tourism opportunities, and connects 23 of the county’s 38 municipalities, according to the plan’s executive summary. The plan lays out a vision, goals and methods of reaching the goals, and — like the master plans of other major cities’ waterways — guides such areas as economics, transportation, environment and land use.
The town of Palm Beach’s letter opposed items including the creation of an Intracoastal Waterway commission to oversee plan implementation; a planning analysis to further evaluate the Lake Worth “Jewel Cove” marina village concept; the identification of street-end park opportunities and development of regulations to require their establishment and maintenance; development of a public access program for spoil islands and development of a storm-water utility that would cover properties within a half mile of Intracoastal shores. The letter cautioned other municipalities that they may have different concerns because of their individual situations.
Gulf Stream opposes the same items as Palm Beach, Except for Jewel Cove.
The Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization has adopted the plan, and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council is finalizing small changes, said Kim Delaney, TCRPC growth management coordinator. It’s been presented to the county, the Marine Industries Association and the Florida Intracoastal Navigational District.
The plan is advisory, providing recommendations to towns, which can decide whether to implement them, Delaney said, adding the Intracoastal Commission is a marketing entity, not a regulator.
The plan is a roadmap to anyone who wants to implement those projects, said Randy Whitfield, director of the county Metropolitan Planning Organization. “It is a basis for how what you’re doing will fit in with the overall plan.”
Gulf Stream Town Clerk Rita Taylor said that, as in all plans, towns have a period of time in which to respond in favor or opposition. She also pointed out that the Florida Intracoastal Navigational District owns two parcels in Gulf Stream that are spoil islands and could be developed.
“It’s best to bring attention before it’s too late,” said Tom Bradford, deputy town manager of Palm Beach. Palm Beach copied its letter to the county, MPO and TCRPC and the mayors of every municipality that abuts the Intracoastal. “It’s not that all the things are bad things, but that they’re already being done. Why add more potential cost?”
The item that disturbed most people, Bradford said, was the creation of a storm-water utility that could charge assessments. “All the functions to protect the Intracoastal Waterway from runoff issues are done from a nationwide program that we’re all required to participate in. So it’s a duplication of effort,” he said.
In the instance of the town’s objection to Jewel Cove, Bradford said, there is a segment of Lake Worth on Palm Beach island, next to residences. “To build a marina is not conducive to the residential community,” he said, adding that Lake Worth, not the town of Palm Beach would be the deciding entity on that item.
In other business:
• Gulf Stream commissioners voted to add a 10 percent utilities tax to electric and gas, a move that would increase town revenue by $160,000 annually, bolster reserves and slip in ahead of a possible ballot initiative that could cap municipal revenue. The tax, which is on actual electricity, not add-ons such as fuel charges, wouldn’t go into effect until April. Commissioners declined to adopt a similar tax on water.
• The town pushed through ordinances on first reading to prohibit firing a firearm and to regulate use of PODS and other on-property portable storage. The portable storage ordinance requires a $150 permit for units placed on properties for more than 48 hours and limits their stay to seven days. Both ordinances will be the subject of public hearings and final votes in at the November meeting.
• Commissioners also worked through an ordinance regulating the use of golf carts as transportation within the town, which will be up for discussion at a public hearing and preliminary vote in November.