When City Planners Oppose Elected Officials

What happens when the professional planning staff advising an elected board disagrees with the conclusions of the elected board, and is required to submit a proposal that the planners opposed to a state regulatory agency for approval?

Palm Beach County's planning director told county commissioners on November 13th that he and his staff would not "compromise our professional integrity" by supporting commission development plans with which they disagree. County Commissioners say Director Lorenzo Aghemo and the county's Planning Department are undercutting their agenda when it comes to land use amendments that require approval from the State Department of Community Affairs, such as an 11-acre office park that commissioners endorsed on November 13th.

"...it makes us look ridiculous, because we've approved something and you sent up [to the state agency] all the reasons we shouldn't have," Commissioner Mary McCarty said. "I think it puts us in a very bad light...you need to take out and reword staff's part of it, to support what the commissioners are saying when they're making their votes."

County staff had urged commissioners to reject the proposal, saying it isn't compatible with the surrounding rural community and would add too much traffic to nearby roads. Commissioners had approved the proposal. The decision virtually ensures a court battle with the state agency, which had raised objections to the project initially. A Deputy County Administrator said she would check to see how other counties handle the issue.

Thanks to Sheryl Stolzenberg

Full Story: Palm Beach County officials at odds with their planners on developments


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