A small community in northern Palm Beach County has filed a lawsuit to avoid being annexed by Palm Beach Gardens.
Owners of property in Hidden Key, a 60-year-old community, are asking the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County for help in the matter, filing a petition for writ of certiorari.
Hidden Key, located east of the Intracoastal Waterway, is in an unincorporated area of Palm Beach County and uses a North Palm Beach postal address.
Read the filing below:
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 5, said that none of the 70 homeowners in the community “wishes their neighborhood to lose its identity” and be annexed by Palm Beach Gardens.
“This is not hyperbole; opposition to annexation into Palm Beach Gardens is literally unanimous,” the court filing stated.
Residents in Hidden Key contend that if they become a part of Palm Beach Gardens their taxes will increase significantly while also decreasing their municipal services.
“The City knows this. It wants to annex Hidden Key anyway because many of the homes in Hidden Key are of considerable worth and the City wants to tax their value,” the lawsuit stated. “What is more, Hidden Key offers Palm Beach Gardens a ‘contiguity bridge’ to the far more affluent, unincorporated communities bordering the Atlantic Ocean to Hidden Key’s east, north, and south.”
The homeowners of the community believe that they “have found themselves a pawn in the chess game” as Palm Beach Gardens plans more annexations.
Attorney Nicholas M. Gieseler, who was among the lawyers who filed the lawsuit for the petitioners, released the following statement:
“By creating this massive annexation zone comprised of dozens of different communities, the City of Palm Beach Gardens has brazenly attempted to circumvent the requirements of clear Florida law and eliminate the ability for the residents of Hidden Key to have a meaningful vote on who will govern them.”
Hidden Key is in a location known as Area 1 that Palm Beach Gardens is seeking to annex, which also includes Cabana Colony, Frenchman’s Landing, Captain’s Key, Juno Park among others.
Palm Beach Gardens wants to add five areas of land into its city limits, which includes about 8,600 people. Ultimately, people will get to vote in each zone to join or reject Palm Beach Gardens in a vote to be held March 19.
The city has described the annexation as a “win-win” proposition, saying the growth will allow it to lower people’s tax rates in Palm Beach Gardens because the tax base would grow. The city also said it will help Palm Beach Gardens understand the capacity it requires for services, like the size of its police department.