Friday, October 20, 2006

City Commission Special Meeting 10/23

As e-mailed from the City of Lake Worth on 10/20:

The City Commission will hold a special meeting this Monday, October 23, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the Casino/Beach Redevelopment Plan. The meeting will be held in the Auditorium at Lake Worth High School located at 1701 Lake Worth Road. On the
agenda at the meeting is the approval of a ground lease, approval of a development agreement and approval of a construction contract with Greater Bay, LLC.

The agenda and accompanying back-up material may be found by visiting Lake Worth's official website at Click on Casino/Beach located in the drop down menu to the left of the home screen. Once there, click on the link located directly under the search box on the right-hand of the screen. When the agenda is uploaded, click on the appropriate item on the agenda to be linked to the applicable back-up material.

Quick Facts:
* This is a public/private partnership with NO public debt
* Public access to the beach and pool will be maintained throughout the project
* As plans develop every step of the process will be brought back to the City Commission

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Results from Special Planning and Zoning Board Meeting - 10/19

The Planning and Zoning Board acted last night (on a vote of 6-1, with Anne Hoctor dissenting) to recommend that the following language be transmitted by the City Commission to the State of Florida, Department of Community Affairs. This language would be added to our Comprehensive Plan, create a new future land use designation of "Beach and Casino" and amend the future land use map accordingly. (see inset)

The Commission Chambers might have been half full last night. I was expecting a larger crowd and some there thought that there was not adequate notice of the meeting and wondered if the meeting were advertised appropriately, which it was. We decided to move the meeting to a night that was one night later than our usual meeting, in the same place and at the same time as we usually meet. We wanted this to be the only item on our agenda for a couple of reasons. One is that our typical agendas for our regular meetings run to about 10 p.m., on average. An item such as a text amendment to the Comprehensive Plan would have been discussed during the last part of our meeting. We felt the need to make sure we discussed this at a "reasonable" hour of the day, when people were alert, etc. All of this was in the name of providing the most accessible way for the public to comment and discuss the land use and zoning changes to the beach property. Starting early would also allow us to process a lot of input from the public without a real time constraint.

I guess no good deed goes unpunished sometimes. However, the future land use plan change will be considered in a public hearing at a future regular City Commission meeting and that will be to consider our recommendation to transmit the proposed language to the State of Florida for their review. There will be future opportunity to comment on this item.

We also discussed the draft zoning code language related to the creation of the Beach and Casino zoning district. More on this soon...

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vistalamar Townhouses - 800 block of South Federal - west side

One of the items on the Planning and Zoning Board agenda last night was a project along South Federal Highway, just south of 8th Avenue South on the west side of the road. The property is not in a historic district - the historic districts along Federal Highway begin as you go north of 6th Avenue South.

It consists of a three story, four unit townhouse building with separate garages off the alley. A courtyard area is designed for the area between the main structure containing the residential units. I am trying to up load some photos of the project, but Blogger seems to have indigestion this afternoon. I will attempt those later.

There are a couple things that are particularly important regarding this project. It contains a significant about of architectural detail and is nicely modulated in relation to the street. It is also situated between two existing buildings that are about of equal height, but clearly from a different time and place. Access to the garage is off an alley - to be paved and improved by the developer - including utilities.

But, the most important aspect is that it is not a "double-loaded" (two back to back residential structures) townhouse project. The City Commission discussed this issue when considering the extension of the Zoning in Progress (ZIP). The Commission ended up approving the item on first reading, but following the initiative of Commissioner Jennings, will look at compatibility issues between three story townhouses along Federal and their impact to adjacent single family neighborhoods (that are predominantly one and two story). This is being addressed by the Master Plan and extending the ZIP merely continues the regulations that revised the required setbacks along this corridor. Since the adoption of the ZIP, we have only seen one application for a double stacked townhouse and that one was turned down related to Certificate of Appropriateness request for demolition - and also in consideration of what was planned to go in its place.

So, what do we learn from this? We know that the current ZIP is working and that attractive residential projects are still possible, even in this un-even residential marketplace. When we receive the proposed language for our revised zoning code (land development regulations), we can do additional tweaking of the language. It is also important to note that the existing double-stacked townhouses were all approved under the previous regulations.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

Special Planning and Zoning Board Meeting - 10/19/06, 6 p.m., City Hall

There is a special Planning and Zoning Board meeting (6 p.m., City Hall) to discuss a land use plan change for the beach property. This is necessary in order to recognize the existing commericial uses at the beach/casino property as well as establish a framework for the appropriate zoning designation for the beach in light of the redevelopment plan. The Planning and Zoning Board will also discuss aspects of the proposed zoning changes, but these require more work and will be considered later.

If the Planning and Zoning Board choses to act tonight on the land use plan change, it would be in the form of a recommendation to the City Commission to transmit the suggested changes to the State of Florida for their review. That would result in a transmittal hearing to be held by the City Commission in the near future.

Below, you will find images of the back-up included in the Planning and Zoning Board packet.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"

PBC - Board of County Commissioners Approve Interlocal Agreement

On Tuesday, October 17, the Board of County Commissioners approved the Interlocal Agreement between the City and the County - allowing the City to access $5 million of fund from the 2002 Cultural and Parks Facilities bond. This money will be used in concert with City, State and private funds to improve the public infrastructure needed to renovate the City's beach park.

About 20 or so Lake Worth people attended the meeting - all speaking in favor of the funding contribution from the County, with some mentioning the need to safeguard public access and parking. The following are my remarks made at the meeting:

Good morning, Commissioners, my name is Wes Blackman - a Lake Worth resident and candidate for the Lake Worth District #3 Commission seat.

I would like to give a couple of "thank yous" this morning. First of all, thanks to the citizens of Palm Beach County for approving the Parks and Cultural Facilities Bond referendum in 2002. I happen to be involved in the Courthouse Restoration project going on next door that also received funds from the bond issue. Secondly, thank you for reserving $5 million of the bond issue for redevelopment of the City of Lake Worth beach park. The Lake Worth beach can be an even greater contributor to the quality of life for residents and visitors alike with these funds.

Do we, as a City, have more work to do? - Yes.

Do we, as a City, have issues to address? - Yes.

What you have before you today represents one important step in the overall process.

But I am confident that we can do what we have set out to do as a community, put this project behind us and get on with other things.

I urge you to approve the Interlocal agreement today. Thank you.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"