By Tim O’Meilia
A petition drive to banish a high-rise hotel permanently from the South Palm Beach landscape was rejected by town officials Jan. 26.
More than 20 percent of the town’s 1,300 registered voters signed petitions to put three charter questions on the March 9 ballot. But Town Clerk Janet Whipple ruled that the paperwork did not meet town charter or state law requirements. If approved by voters, new buildings would have been limited to a 60-foot height, voters would have decided comprehensive plan changes instead of the Town Council and no non-residential uses could be expanded.
The signature drive, headed by resident Stella Jordan, was aimed at preventing any expansion of the two-story Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn, the only non-residential building in town.
Although more than the required number of signatures were obtained (15 percent according to the town charter, 10 percent according to town ordinances), the petitions were not filed the required 90 days before the election.
Whipple also ruled that organizers did not follow other requirements, including forming a five-person committee. She also said they conflicted with state law on comprehensive plans.