By Steve Plunkett

    Ocean Ridge Town Attorney Ken Spillias has extended his resume with a job he’s held before: lawyer for the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

    Spillias, who represented the CRA from 2004 to early 2007, was chosen over three other firms that sought the work. The CRA put $85,000 in its 2014 budget for legal services.

    “We are one of the premier environmental and land-use law firms in the state,” Spillias told the board Oct. 8. “We know Boynton Beach.”

7960473085?profile=original    Spillias, managing partner of West Palm Beach-based Lewis, Longman & Walker, will be backed up by Tara Duhy, a firm partner who also helped in his earlier stint. Spillias has been Ocean Ridge’s attorney since 1999.

    He replaces Boynton Beach City Attorney Jim Cherof, who began representing the CRA in July 2007 when city commissioners seated themselves as the CRA board instead of having an independent panel. 

    Cherof spent a year as temporary CRA attorney before being named permanent lawyer.

    Cherof also represented the CRA before it was an independent panel.

    Mark Karageorge, a property manager and one of the CRA’s two citizen members, asked in June that his colleagues consider someone besides Cherof. The CRA has a rule that all services costing more than $25,000 must go out to bid, he said then. And the Florida Redevelopment Association suggests having separate lawyers to avoid any appearance of impropriety, he added.

    “I don’t see you being the attorney for Ocean Ridge as being a positive,” City Commissioner Joe Casello told Spillias at the Oct. 8 CRA meeting. “We like to think we’re going to have a good relationship with them, but you never know what the future’s going to be.”

    Spillias said Ocean Ridge commissioners saw no conflict when he applied for the CRA job in 2004 and that there have been no issues between the bodies since then. 

    But City Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said one day Boynton Beach will want to build at least a two-level parking garage at its beach park, which is in Ocean Ridge across from Town Hall.

    “I see that as being a major conflict,” he said.

    Spillias was chosen on a 5-2 vote with Fitzgerald and City Commissioner David Merker dissenting.

    Others who sought the job were former Broward County Attorney Susan Delegal, now with Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro & Ramsey in Fort Lauderdale; Derek Rooney, an associate at Tampa-based Fowler White Boggs who represents the Charlotte County and Lee County industrial development authorities; and Hallandale Beach CRA attorney Steven Zelkowitz, who is also managing shareholder of Miami-based GrayRobinson.

    CRA Executive Director Vivian Brookes advised board members that they might want to consider the applicants’ locations in choosing a lawyer, highlighting that Rooney works out of his firm’s Fort Myers office.

    Spillias’ bid said he would bill $250 an hour for his and other partners’ time, $200 an hour for associates at the firm and $150 an hour for paralegals.

    A lawyer since 1974, Spillias also has been a Palm Beach County commissioner and chairman of the West Palm Beach planning board.

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