The Palm Beach Civic Association announced today its opposition to the proposed large scale comprehensive plan amendment for Peanut Island to allow a restaurant to be built by the Maritime Museum. The following letter has just been sent to the Palm Beach County Commissioners.
Board of County Commissioners
Palm Beach County
P.O. Box 1989
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402-1989
Re: The Palm Beach Civic Association Opposes a Large Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Peanut Island
Dear County Commissioners:
TOP OCEAN LLC, the company that runs events and special projects on Peanut Island for the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, has submitted an application to Palm Beach County to amend the Palm Beach County Large Scale Comprehensive Plan.
The TOP OCEAN LLC proposal, among other things, would allow a new 4,500 sq. ft. stand-alone restaurant with seating for 150 people on Peanut Island. This would create a major expansion of the Museum with substantial impacts on the Peanut Island park concept which has been not to allow commercial activity.
This massive new building will cater to larger crowds and special events on Peanut Island in the Intracoastal Waterway on land the Maritime Museum leases from the Port of Palm Beach. It will reopen a controversial ten-year long debate about erecting an eatery in a natural tropical island park that provides public access for boaters.
Moreover, the Large Scale Comprehensive Plan amendment would change some of the key provisions in the recently updated Strategic Plans of Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and Palm Beach Shores, especially as they relate to the preservation of pristine natural settings along our shoreline and oppose commercialization of this kind.
The Palm Beach Civic Association is strongly opposed to the TOP OCEAN LLC Plan amendment for the following reasons:
1. A new restaurant on Peanut Island will lead to dramatic unwanted over-commercialization of an area that is prized for its natural beauty and pristine environment.
2. The proposed restaurant on Peanut Island will create increased congestion on the Intracoastal Waterway in an already hazardous commercial shipping channel for the Port of Palm Beach.
3. There is a well-documented 10-year history of local government opposition to a restaurant on Peanut Island from the neighboring cities of Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and Palm Beach Shores. Yet, on March 22, 2011, when the County Commissioners agreed to allow this proposal to be reconsidered, the surrounding municipalities were given little or no advance notice of the pending discussion. In fact, County Commissioner Karen Marcus, in whose district this project resides, was not even present when the vote occurred.
4. The Palm Beach Town Council recently reaffirmed its opposition to the over-commercialization of Peanut Island. Council members unanimously agreed that Peanut Island should remain a natural tropical island park with public access for boaters.
5. TOP OCEAN LLC Plan amendment does not meet Palm Beach County’s requirement that the applicant be the property owner. It is the Port of Palm Beach that should be making the application or provide consent to its lessee, the Palm Beach Maritime Museum to make the application.
6. A restaurant of this size will require sewer service to the mainland using the Riviera Beach system through a County pipe. Riviera Beach says their limited sewage facilities at the point of connection cannot handle restaurant loads.
7. A restaurant this size needs reserved mainland parking. Public safety, support services and infrastructure on the island are not in place to handle commercial activity.
8. The Marine Industries Association has opposed and continues to oppose the construction of a restaurant or other significant commercial activity on Peanut Island as it detracts from the public access boating goals of the island park.
9. Florida Inland Navigation District which provided the grant money to develop the Park is opposed on the same basis as the Marine Industries Association.
For these reasons, the Palm Beach Civic Association opposes TOP OCEAN LLC’s application for a Large Scale Comprehensive Plan amendment to build a new restaurant on Peanut Island. We urge Palm Beach County Commissioners to turn down this request.
Chairman and CEO
R. Michael Brown