Enticements to develop Milani land aim to scuttle county’s plan

By Rich Pollack

Highland Beach town leaders have offered the Milani family several favorable land-use adjustments in exchange for their vocal opposition to development of a beachfront park on land they sold to the county specifically for a park.

In their continuing efforts to persuade Palm Beach County commissioners to halt development of the 5.6-acre Milani Park at the south end of Highland Beach, town leaders sent Lucia Milani a multi-pronged proposal that would make it easier for her family to develop adjacent property in exchange for the family publicly speaking out against the plan.

“If you’re naming a park after someone and you now say you no longer want the park, that has credibility,” said Highland Beach Town Manager Marshall Labadie.

Labadie said the Milani family and the town have yet to come to agreement on all of the terms.

The town’s effort came in advance of a planned public meeting about the proposed park with Palm Beach County Commissioner Marci Woodward set for Feb. 1.

Included in the proposal would be an extension of a 30-year-old settlement between the town and the family that expires in 2025 and essentially grandfathers in land use improvements on two parcels owned by the family. A five-year extension on Milani property east of State Road A1A would enable construction of three homes on the parcel that under current code is only permitted to include one single-family home.

The proposal includes a three-year extension of the settlement agreement on the west side of A1A, with two one-year additional extensions. The town is also offering to allow the family to build townhouses on that property that would exceed the height limit set under the settlement agreement but is acceptable under current height limits. Those proposed land use adjustments have been previously requested by the Milani family.

Also included in the proposed agreement is a zoning change the town would offer on the property, now zoned for public use, should the county agree to sell the property back to the Milani family if it abandons plans to build the park.

What that zoning change would be and what it would allow have been sticking points in the discussions, town leaders have said.

The town would also transfer the Cam D. Milani naming rights from the park to the old fire station, which will be used as a public meeting facility once construction of the new fire station is complete.

In exchange for the land use changes, the Milanis would be required to attend public meetings and voice opposition to the development of the park, put their opposition in writing and put together a good faith offer to the county for purchase of the park property based on appraised value.

The family sold the property to the county more than 30 years ago for $4 million.

“I think this is a real good start,” Town Commissioner Don Peters said. “We have to build up trust with Mrs. Milani.”

In a recent email to The Coastal Star, she said she preferred not to comment on “ongoing public processes.”

Public input meeting
County Commissioner Marci Woodward is hosting a community meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Highland Beach Library to address the proposed development of Milani Park. Overflow parking at St. Lucy Catholic Church. Follow the issue at
thecoastalstar.com

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