Not Without Coffee

August 17th, 2011 Agenda Packet

That’s right, it’s time to ingest considerable quantities of caffeine again! You’ll be needing it in order to maintain an upright position throughout the course of what follows (should you choose to engage) and as you continue with your own further reading on the subjects up for discussion this Wednesday night.

Another Town meeting is coming up and will be held at 7:30 in town chambers at Town Hall on Wednesday night, August 17th. There are several things on the agenda. Please click the link above and make note of items you feel need attention and involvement.

During the meeting there will be an open public hearing on an ordinance of the Town Commission amending and updating the capital improvements element of its Comprehensive Plan. Please see Tab 4 in the agenda packet to familiarize yourself with this ordinance.

This ordinance outlines the plan for present and future capital projects the town intends to seek grant funding for, from 2011 through 2016. (There is a date discrepancy between the projected date listed on the Summary page (it states it goes through 2015) and the projected date listed on the pages with the tables (through 2016). A notation is also made stating that the majority of the projects can only be accomplished if grant funding is obtained. (Grant funding is contingent upon Palm Beach County guidelines and our adherence to agreements with them and their organizations.) Read on for details below.

The project elements mentioned in the updated Plan range from infrastructure, to tennis court resurfacing, arts projects, a community center, ball field expansion/renovation, improvements to Park Avenue and 10th Street (drainage, lighting, paving, trees), Marina projects (including parking), Mirror Ballroom renovation, vehicle replacement (why is this not covered in the budget for vehicles already in place?), Lakeshore drainage, Lakeshore Promenade, etc. You can see the 8-17-11 Agenda for details on this ordinance.

The items for revision on Wednesday may or may not seem important to you. However, my focus here is rather a quest to know the background of the Plan which our town has laid out for us to pursue and the process by which they intend to attain those goals.

But let’s back up a minute. Rewind to June 1st (a very telling meeting which we will take note of again in another post) when it was stated by our Town Grant Writer, Ms. Martin, that we did not have the money to create a Comprehensive Plan of our own. Yet we do have a plan and are now amending and updating elements of  this  Comprehensive Plan 2008. (Found on the town website). According to Ms. Martin, as stated in the June 1st meeting minutes, Palm Beach County is the one who develops the plan and dictates what we can and cannot do (if I am reading this right, in light of our involvement with them through interlocal agreements – see further below),

Ms. Martin stated the following in an exchange with the Town commission regarding grant money and some stipulations within a certain grant which was being discussed during the June 1st meeting:

“…one of the problems with our going directly to the state for this money is that we would have to develop one – every three years we would have to develop a comprehensive plan for different areas of Town. And we have not got the resources to be able to do that. The County develops a plan with our input, so we have the comprehensive plan that has been developed with our needs in mind. We haven’t got the abilities at this point in time with our resources and with our staffing the way it is to be able to develop one of these plans for ourselves.”

So apparently the county was involved in the creation of The Comprehensive Plan 2008, based on what we suggested as our target areas of need or want. What we target, however, seems to be limited by the dictates of and the opportunities the County allows by way of grant money, which seems to put us in a compromising position. For we are then bound to their plans, demands and the stipulations which they write into those grants… the grant money our town seems eager to to secure (and in a hurry). More from the grant discussion on June 1st:

A little food for thought to go with that coffee

It certainly appears we are beholden to the County and directed by them. The County has a say in what we do and don’t do because they craft our plan and we rely on grant money they dangle in front of us, in many cases, to fund this plan and our town’s projects. A cozy relationship. So we seem to remain in lockstep with them and their organizations and agencies to be eligible for these grants which we have come to depend upon. We have to acquiesce and comply as stated in the following, also from the June 1, 2011 meeting minutes:

“The County develops for Housing and Urban development a comprehensive plan for the unincorporated areas and for all of the communities in Palm Beach County that participate with them in these interlocal agreements.”

Since these interlocal agreements are designed by the County, they are conditional and follow their mandates. (Remember, there is no such thing as “free money”.) I invite you to take a gander at the Comprehensive Plan which can be found on the Town Website (also linked below). What follows are just some of the items that struck me as I spent some time reading the 88 pages. Reading the bulk of it provides a very good idea of the mindset our Town has adopted (and which has been fostered by the county and big government lovers within our administration) in recent years. It is enlightening and points to Sustainable Development at every turn. We will get to know the insidious creature, “Sustainable Development” better very soon.

Right now, grab another “cup of Joe” and keep reading for some insight into The Plan…

Comprehensive Plan 2008

I am curious as to when this document was last updated and by whom. There are many items that appear to be added (underlined with no previous strikethroughs) and many which reflect rather sweeping changes to previous text which has been struck through but I’m not sure when they occured. On the first page of the document, Introduction and Executive Summary, the authors of these revisions are alluded to but not named:

“These revisions often occur as the result of outside development applications. In the daily hustle, it is unlikely that the Town has an opportunity to step back and take a holistic look at how well the Plan is working and how it might be refined to address community-specific issues and challenges…” 

Oh, really? Well, who or what then are these outside development applications and why would they be better suited to look at how the Plan is working and how it might address specific issues and challenges in our communities than we would? And may I ask, Who wrote this Executive Summary? Is anyone overseeing the whole of this plan?

3.4.1 Future Land Use Element – This whole section is “interesting”.

3.4.3 Future Land Use Classification System – Mixed use and clustered single family residences and multiple family residences. (Clustered single family residences: a form of cluster development, where multiple single-family residences are constructed on one property and a certain amount of open space is specifically set-aside.)

#32 – This is about the Town’s plan to concentrate the bioscience industry here with incentives and to develop a cluster of the industry here.

#33 – This states a need for a supermajority of the commission to change a bioscience designated area to include any other uses.

#34 – Mixed use projects to be implemented in residential areas.

#39 The Town Plan for the area of US 1 and Lakeshore

#42  Development along Lakeshore Drive shall maintain pedestrian oriented architecture, landscape and access.

Application #2 – Traffic Circulation Element:

#9 – The Town shall continue to coordinate with Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to ensure that innovative ideas regarding transportation planning in Lake Park are forwarded.

#10 – The Town shall encourage mixed-use development and/or Transit Oriented Development in appropriate locations in order to reduce the need for vehicular trips.

#11 – More of the same

Application # 3 – Housing Element

#7 – Coordinate with appropriate agencies to secure grant funds to assist  income-Qualified renter households in becoming homeowners. (According to this document, our town doesn’t have as many homeowners by percentage as the state does, so they feel we should level the playing field and assist renters who can’t afford to buy so they can become homeowners.)

Application #7 Comprehensive recreation and open space

#1 – The Town shall require a minimum of 2.5 acres of developed recreation and open space per 1,000 residents.

#2 – The town shall consider the feasibility of establishing an impact fee schedule within the town in order to ensure that the recreation and open space facilities at the adopted level of service are available and concurrent with the impacts of development and in accordance with the Capital Improvements Element.

#3 – The Town will identify properties available for acquisition and/or vacant or underutilized properties, and consider acquiring these properties in order to expand its inventory of useable recreation and open space.

#4 – More of the same requiring open space for development and redevelopment

(Sustainable Development ideology runs throughout this Plan. It adds up. Taken individually some of these may seem harmless or as if they are being done with good “ecological” intentions, but as you consider the reasoning behind them and what will be created with the sum total, and the private property rights that will be affected, another picture of Our Town Plan comes to light.)


Plan to provide opportunities for group homes

Commitment to economic development shall be considered when conducting town business including interlocal agreements

Market studies will be done to determine types of businesses needed in the downtown, mixed-use, industrial and commercial areas.

More requirements about bioscience opportunities and securing against the allowing of other commercial or residential land-use designation where bioscience might otherwise go. (Why the pervasive interest in and push for bioscience? Requirements in regard to bioscience are rampant throughout the Plan, and seem to set the table for specific projects in the future over others, perhaps paving the way to favor certain interests and developers in the future? Just a question.)

Town of Lake Park Future land use map shows all of Lakeshore Drive as per the Town Plan, as a commercial/residential area and recreation with mixed use overlay.

Please take the time to read through The Plan and the ordinance and agenda for Wednesday’s meeting so you can hold our town accountable. The Plan itself is not up for discussion, but provides the backstory for the ordinance elements which will be voted on. I provide this discussion of the The Plan so that we begin to understand our Town Leadership’s mindset and goals. It is with each of these ordinances and decisions being voted on that our town will continue to be reworked.

Keep standing guard

There are other items on the agenda to consider and another item I want to make note of, but I will save those for tomorrow’s post.

Thank you for standing guard.