County pays premium price for airport land

Palm Beach County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to purchase land adjacent to the Palm Beach International Airport for over $200,000 more than the market value determined by the Property Appraiser’s Office. Commissioner Paulette Burdick was the lone dissenting vote challenging the $830,000 sales price .

While the property’s price tag is comparable to other recent sales in the area, Burdick said this piece of land had “limited value to anyone but the airport.” With the budget hearing looming later in the day and taxpayer sentiment against the county spending more money, Burdick questioned the rationale for the purchase. The property has long figured into the county’s airport master plan, but this was the first time the seller had been open to accepting an offer.

The parcel, which is smaller than an acre, includes a leased commercial building for which the county will continue to receive rental payments. A Florida Department of Transportation grant will pay for half the cost of the property, with the remainder funded by the airport’s Passenger Facility Charge revenues.

In other business, commissioners agreed to pay Miami-based GLF Construction Corp. more than $30 million  to rebuild the Ocean Avenue Bridge in Lantana. As in previous meetings, Commissioner Burt Aaronson said he already knew the answer, but questioned why a Palm Beach County contractor was not selected for the project. County staff responded that no local contractors had bid on the project. Aaronson suggested that they find more ways to get the word out to Palm Beach County businesses when these opportunities arise.

With little discussion, the commission also adopted four ordinances and two resolutions repealing rules or regulations pertaining to firearms or ammunition, as required by a state law that will go into effect Oct. 1. While Commissioner Karen Marcus lamented that the board must “pass it or go to jail,” commissioners also adopted a resolution requesting that the Legislature reconsider its position and allow local governments to pass their own gun ordinances. All votes were unanimous.

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