Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Enclaves, unincorporated County “pockets”, and annexations: Very big issues for municipalities in Central Palm Beach County.

Please Note: The TCRPC’s Preliminary Agenda is now available online. This next meeting is on May 19th at 9:30. Items of local interest are:
  • 3D. City of Greenacres Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 17-1ESR.
  • 7. Legislative Update 2017 - U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Office - Michelle Oyola McGovern, Director of Outreach.
  • 9. Florida Department of Transportation Complete Streets Policy.

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) has addressed the issue of “enclaves” several times recently, the last time at their March meeting this year, “Presentation by Richard Reade, Village Manager, Village of Palm Springs”. Here are two excerpts:

Mr. Reade indicated because his community is built-out and there has been a large population growth they do a lot of infill redevelopment and annexation. He stated there are a number of ways to annex property that are allowed by statute, but in areas that are more developed the involuntary annexation process is a key economic development tool.

and. . .

Mr. Reade indicated the involuntary annexation process is critical for annexing in the small pockets of land, because within these pockets there are code enforcement and policing issues that the municipality cannot handle until the areas are made part of the city.

Below is an example of an unincorporated area of the County within the City of Lake Worth. The 2100 block of Collier Ave. off Lake Osborne Drive is in the City of Lake Worth BUT one block east the 2000 block is unincorporated Palm Beach County.

Going east on Collier, make a right turn onto Sunset Dr. and you’ll find the vacant lots of the “Sunset” property (within the City limits), another looming issue.
The topic of County enclaves (also called “pockets” or “fingers”) was discussed at the TCRPC meeting last October as well. Read more about that below.

Reading the last published minutes of a TCRPC meeting is like reading news that hasn’t been written yet. It’s a good look into the very near future, issues to be brought before local commission and council meetings. Strongly encourage everyone to peruse these minutes and agendas to get a feel for the big issues being grappled with by leaders, counties, and cities here in South Florida.

On page 7 from the minutes of the October 2016 meeting was more discussion about unincorporated County areas within municipal areas. The concern is whether these County residents are getting services for which cities and towns are not getting reimbursed:

Staff provided an overview of annexations and enclaves. Staff indicated annexation is the process whereby property that lies outside of the boundary of a municipality is brought within municipal limits; and an enclave is unincorporated land surrounded by a municipality or a barrier such as a canal that prevents access to the area, except through the municipality. Staff indicated there are five types of annexation: voluntary is when the property owner requests to be part of the city; majority voluntary is for non-residential properties whereby a majority vote of the owners determines annexation; referendum where the citizens of the affected area vote on the annexation; legislative when the Florida Legislature adopts a special bill to make that area part of a city; and enclave interlocal where the municipality that surrounds an enclave, and the county work together to transition the area into the municipality. Staff noted some of the concerns with enclaves is an inefficient service delivery for the city and county; difficulty in planning for orderly development; jurisdictional confusion; and unfair benefits without tax payments.

Stay tuned as they say. Expect to see this issue on an upcoming agenda for the City Commission here in Lake Worth.