A united front at the Palm Beach Gardens City Council has paved the way for a significant city expansion, as officials approved annexation plans that now rest in the hands of local voters. The decision, which garnered a unanimous thumbs-up from council members, brings five zones under the city's ambit, potentially swelling the population by more than 8,300 people, according to CBS12.
The zones lie east of I-95 and form a patchwork of neighborhoods currently under country governance, ranging south of Donald Ross Road, east of Alternate A1A, and north of PGA Boulevard. However, support for the move isn't widespread, a sentiment that was clear at Wednesday night's city council meeting. "Nobody wants this. I mean you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the people out here, who love it the way it is,” voiced a resident during public commentary.
Concerns abound regarding the implications of annexation, particularly on taxation. Residents from areas like Pleasant Ridge have expressed nervousness about potential tax hikes, with a homeowner asserting, "We’re really concerned about our taxes going up," and adding, “Sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.” The city, however, addresses these concerns, emphasizing that a sizable chunk of properties could actually see tax reductions if the annexation plan goes through.
According to WPTV, Palm Beach Gardens’ officials argued that the actual percentage of properties facing increased taxes varies by zone, and they've pinned their annexation campaign on the premise that as many as 70% of properties in the encompassed areas might benefit from lower assessed values. Yet, some residents insist the push for expansion is primarily to buttress the city's coffers. "They are trying to take our tax dollars," Deangelo told WPTV in an interview. The debate is set to be settled in a series of elections likely taking place on March 19, 2024, when the fate of these potential new city zones will be in the hands of the voters.
The narrative doesn't end here, with neighboring North Palm Beach also eyeing some of the same properties for its own expansion, adding a layer of complexity to the tug-of-war over land and loyalty. In the midst of this, homeowners like Celeste Colliton of Hidden Key have escalated their opposition to the annexation, with Colliton placing a sign outside her residence that rallies against the proposal. "They listen to us, they say. But they don’t care what we say."