West Palm Beach City Commission takes positive votes for business

The West Palm Beach City Commission on Monday gave fast food restaurants a little breathing room by relaxing their parking space requirements.

For more than 25 years, the city made no distinction between eat-in and drive-thru restaurants for parking space requirements. A new ordinance passed by commissioners cuts the parking space requirements for drive-thru restaurants by nearly half, which would allow eateries like McDonald’s to expand their services.

Commissioners agreed to relax the rules, at McDonald’s behest, after a study commissioned by the fast food giant showed the nature of its drive-thru business generates minimal demand for parking. A comparison by city staff found one space per three fast food seats is consistent with drive-thru parking requirements in other cities and counties across the state, so commissioners agreed to adopt that ratio. The new parking limits, passed on first reading, will come back to the commission for a final vote on October 31.

In other business, some commissioners questioned whether the lack of proposals to handle the city’sinsurance services signaled a problem with the bid process, since only two companies submitted proposals and one was the same firm that held the contract for the past 20 years.

“Nobody else stepping up and competing says we might not have done this well,” Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell said, referring to language in the city’s request for proposal.

Commissioner Ike Robinson agreed it was a problem if companies weren’t bidding because they believed they had no chance of getting the contract. The resolution will be reconsidered at the commission’s Oct. 31 meeting, after the selection committee has a chance to revisit the process.

In a move that may help the city’s bottom line some, commissioners also voted on first reading to expand the city’s boundaries a tad, annexing the Oxbridge Academy’s 1.48 acres upon the private school’s request. The parcel and an adjacent 12 acres was also rezoned to a community service designation to accommodate the sports and recreational activities planned there. Commissioners will finalize the vote at a later date when all application requirements are complete.

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