Palm Beach Post Story: Royal Palm council to make decision on RaceTrac at special meeting
Matt Morgan – Palm Beach Post
| Filed in: Wellington, westpbc.
The “No” shirts and anti-RaceTrac signs will be back in full force Thursday night as at least 150 Royal Palm Beach residents are expected at a special council meeting to determine the fate of the gas station proposal.
The decision was originally postponed on Oct. 15 at a contentious meeting, which was frequently interrupted by jeers and outbursts from the group that doesn’t want to see the nearly 6,000-square-foot gas station and convenience store at the corner of Southern and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.
When possible Sunshine Law concerns were raised because not everyone could fit in the room, the council decided to delay the vote to a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center.
Expect the same level of passion from the anti-RaceTrac group, but hopefully more decorum this time, said attorney David Markarian, who represents the dissenters.
“I’ve worked very diligently with the city attorney and the mayor to ensure that the process is respectful and productive,” he said.
The council will decide if the proposal fits into 10 criteria which are laid out in the village’s comprehensive plan, including not having negative environmental impacts, not negatively affecting traffic, not creating significant noise and not devaluing nearby properties.
If the RaceTrac team, led by Wantman Group engineer Brian Terry, provides evidence that the plan fits the criteria, the council is obligated to approve it. The plan’s schematics already fit all village codes, and the staff has recommended approval.
At the first meeting, Terry said the RaceTrac would fit seamlessly into the community along the road.
“This is high-end,” Terry said. “This is what the Village of Royal Palm Beach deserves to have along Southern Boulevard to serve the residents.”
The plan also calls for adding another turn lane on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, which he said would help mitigate traffic concerns. The convenience store would feature 20 pumps, fresh sandwiches and a frozen yogurt station.
RaceTrac worked with the village to modify its proposal to fit the area. The building would have more muted tones instead of bright reds that would stick out.
But for Markarian and the opposing group, it wasn’t enough.
He plans to argue that the plan violates some of the criteria, including fit in the community, environmental issues and traffic concerns.
“Our focus is going to be on how the project diminishes the character of the community,” he said.
The opposing group looks at the area as the gateway to the village and would like to see it as a park with features welcoming people to Royal Palm Beach.
Village manager Ray Liggins said the council will be ready to hear everyone and weigh thoughts before making a decision. One way or another, he expects a final vote to occur Thursday night.