By Dan Moffett
A relationship that has flowed faithfully for 60 years abruptly ended on its anniversary in September.
The long-running water partnership between Manalapan and the Town of Hypoluxo died for the foreseeable future, after Hypoluxo switched to Boynton Beach Utilities for services.
About 2,200 Hypoluxo residents, roughly 550 accounts, are getting their water from Boynton now. The change has been in the works for the last three years, since the Hypoluxo Town Council unanimously voted not to renew the Manalapan contract — originally signed in 1960 — when it expired on Sept. 1.
“We just can’t compete with what they’re offering,” Manalapan Town Manager Linda Stumpf said.
Boynton is promising Hypoluxo users a 25% reduction in their monthly bills and charging them the same preferred rate as in-city residents.
The fast-growing Boynton utility serves close to 120,000 customers and is looking to expand further. Manalapan has about 250 accounts remaining and is searching for a replacement for the roughly $1.2 million annual revenue stream Hypoluxo brought to the town.
“We’re looking for someone, and there’s been some interest,” Stumpf said.
Meanwhile, both towns are trying to settle on a price for the infrastructure Hypoluxo is taking over. Manalapan still owns the network of pipes west of the Intracoastal Waterway and wants roughly $1.2 million to give them up. Hypoluxo has submitted an appraisal that puts the value at around $490,000. An independent appraisal is in the works. “Hypoluxo has put $1 million in an escrow account for us while the appraisers are trying to agree on a value,” Stumpf said.
In other business, the Town Commission has unanimously approved two ordinances with provisions that shift review authority for building projects from Manalapan’s appointed boards to commissioners.
The changes give the commissioners the discretion to sign off on dock design plans and other building code issues without waiting for recommendations from the Planning and Zoning or Architectural commission. Input from the review boards is no longer mandatory.
The intent is “to streamline the review processes for both applicants and the town,” according to language in the ordinance passed to restructure the role of the planning board.
Another purpose is to prevent delays caused when a review panel is unable to meet because of absences that prevent assembling a quorum.
“It’s because of the way we’re structured and the way people are in or out of town,” Mayor Keith Waters said before the July 28 vote. “We’re trying to expedite to some extent the things that come before the commission. Sometimes it may take two or three months to get everybody together because people are not necessarily here 12 months a year.”