Several homeowners in unincorporated Palm Beach County could be annexed by two local governments in 2024.
The city of Palm Beach Gardens and the village of North Palm Beach are trying to annex four different communities in unincorporated Palm Beach County. North Palm Beach’s Village Manager Chuck Huff said the town decided after Palm Beach Gardens released its plans to annex five zones in October.
Voters in the communities will cast ballots for their preferences in the March 19 election. Palm Beach Gardens has 59,449 residents and North Palm Beach 13,103, according to U.S. Census data.
“Gardens has taken the opportunity to start annexing everything and we’re just responding with our rights for future annexation,” Huff said.
He also said its looked at adding these areas into its village for years in previous comprehensive plans and it’s just trying to offer people an additional choice.
WPTV contacted multiple people within the city of Palm Beach Gardens but didn’t hear back by publication.
Palm Beach Gardens said the growth would allow it to lower people’s tax rates because its tax base would increase from the acquisition, according to WPTV reporting. Palm Beach Gardens said it has annexed nine areas over the past five years as property values are increasing across Palm Beach County.
Any potential annexation wouldn’t become official unless people within those areas vote to join the city, according to city staff. Each area would have its own vote and a 50% plus one majority would be required to join a community.
Celeste and John Colliton live in Hidden Key, one of the four communities the two governments are competing to add within their city limits. Their votes will count in two jurisdictions, which means they could get added into both communities, one community or none.
Celeste said she’s currently against joining any community because she doesn’t understand the benefits of joining a community. She’s also said she’s frustrated her home is grouped within a jurisdiction of about 7,600 people for the vote to join Palm Beach Gardens.
“It’s just frustrating because they say, ‘You can just vote no,'” Celeste said. “…But, our vote is not going to vote when you group us with all these other homes.”
The Collitons are also concerned about the potential costs of possibly joining a community requiring a connection to a sewer system rather than a septic tank.
WPTV reporter Ethan Stein saw signs urging people to vote “No” throughout their community Monday. Palm Beach County commissioners will get an opportunity to voice their opinion on the annexation Tuesday at their board meeting.
The town of Loxahatchee Groves and the village of Wellington are also in a dispute related to Wellington’s efforts to annex land north of Southern Boulevard, according to a letter WPTV obtained.
Jim Barnes, who is Wellington village manager, said the village was approached by property owners or their representatives about the feasibility of joining Wellington. He said the village believes it’s the best suited to serve property owners.
“We believe we are best suited to serve the property owners and future residents of the subject annexation area should they elect to annex into a municipality,” Barnes said in an email. “In many cases, we already serve as a main service provider for many residents in the mid-western communities, both in municipal limits and unincorporated areas due to our location, programs, and services.”
Francine Ramagila, the town manager for Loxahatchee Groves, said Wellington’s plan is “detrimental” to Loxahatchee Groves. She said it would conflict with the town’s rural character due to increased density and intensity.