Century Village fights city hall, decision made on wedge property

Commission chambers overflowed onto three other floors at Thursday’s zoning meeting, when busloads of people came to weigh in on a proposed development next to West Palm Beach’s Century Village. After more than five hours of public comment and discussion, the commission voted to postpone a decision until October.

The development, Reflection Bay, is to be built on a golf course adjacent to Century Village at Okeechobee Boulevard and Haverhill Road. The golf course has been in disrepair, and the owner no longer wants to continue to operate it as a course. The controversy stems from a provision in the original documents that promised Century Village the golf course would be available to its residents “in perpetuity.”

County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor was absent from the meeting, causing several motions — from denial to postponement — to result in a tie vote. The final vote to postpone was unanimous, and will give Century Village residents an opportunity to either find a buyer who will revitalize the golf course or find a compromise with the developer.

Commission micro-managing sale of ‘wedge property’

The Palm Beach County Commission voted Tuesday to move forward with contract negotiations on property involving a controversial development in downtown West Palm Beach. Several commissioners indicated the plan was too big for the “wedge property” located next to the train station on Tamarind Avenue, but all voted to proceed with an appraisal to determine an appropriate sales price.

The property is part of the Transit Oriented Development District, an area the county and West Palm Beach determined should be developed to promote mass transit. The county requested bids in 2010 for prospective uses, but Transit Village was the only developer to submit a proposal. The county will sell the property to be developed, but it has requirements that must be agreed to before a contract can be executed.

Clint Glass, senior vice president of Balfour Beatty Construction, asked the commission to move forward with the contract, calling it “an important project for the industry,” one that would provide thousands of much-needed construction jobs.

Several other property owners spoke in favor of the project, saying the development would be good for the area as a whole and would improve property values. Raphael Clemente, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said the city was eager to see development on that side of town.

Many property owners along the Clearlake corridor, though, said the project was too big, would add too much traffic and would take tenants from existing buildings. Speaking on their behalf, Harvey Oyer III, an attorney with Shutts and Bowen, said his clients were not opposed to the development, just to its size and scale. Oyer referred to traffic studies that indicated Palm Tran could see operational delays due to congestion in the area.

County Commissioner Karen Marcus agreed that Transit Village needed to reduce the project’s size. Commissioners also expressed concern about the $100,000 purchase price proposed as part of the project, saying it was too low.

Michael Masanoff, manager of Transit Village, presented letters of support from the Treasure Coast Planning Council, Florida Department of Transportation, the city of West Palm Beach and the Regional Transportation Authority. He agreed, though, to seek a solution that would satisfy the commission’s objections.

The property’s financial appraisal will be completed over the next few months, and before the contract can be executed, both the county and West Palm Beach will have to give their approval.

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