Objection to Publix Zoning Application sign now

Town of Palm Beach, Town Council
Town of Palm Beach, Architectural Commission
Town of Palm Beach, Planning and Zoning Board
Mr. Paul Castro, Zoning Administrator
c/o The Honorable Jack McDonald, Mayor
c/o Joanna Cunningham, Town Clerk
360 South County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480

RE: OBJECTION TO PUBLIX SUPERMARKETS ZONING APPLICATION NO. 4-2010

We, the undersigned, are residents and owners of the 212 condominium units at the Palm Beach Hotel, a Town and now National historic landmark located at 235 Sunrise Avenue directly opposite the site for the proposed new Publix supermarket. We strenuously object to Publixs zoning application for the following reasons:

EXISTING TOWN RESIDENTS AND CHARACTER ILL-SERVEDA big box super-store with a massive parking lot and little in the way of landscaping or pedestrian amenities will indisputably alter the character of the surrounding area. It is the first step toward making the Royal Poinciana mixed-use overlay area a suburban commercial strip. What Publix is proposing will upset the areas scale and historic value and will burden existing town residents, small businesses and municipal services.

LOCATION AND SIZE OF THE BUILDINGPublix seeks to almost double the size of their existing structure to three times the size allowed by town code; its overkill. We have no issue with an updated store with wider aisles, but what theyre proposing would be more appropriate to Okeechobee Boulevard than to the Town of Palm Beach, and it ignores the abundant market research indicating that consumers are already overwhelmed at the supermarket shelf.* Moreover, while they call it a single-story structure, it will be almost double the height allowed by town code.

The new mega structure, complete with two noisy external generators, will be shifted east to a site directly opposite and within 60 feet of the main entrance to the Palm Beach Hotel, which was just listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Publix has indicated that its semi-trailer trucks will exit the parking lot on Sunrise Avenue, a narrow residential street, rather than via Coconut Row onto Sunset Avenue, a commercial thoroughfare, where trucks presently enter and exit.

NOISE, LIGHT, AND AIR POLLUTIONTwo new emergency generators (500 KW and 100 KW) will be located on the southeast corner of the proposed store directly opposite our front entrance and within earshot of the dozens of residential units that face Sunrise Avenue. Add to that the vastly expanded semi-trailer traffic and loading/unloading (also proposed for the east side of the building) and the increased consumer traffic from West Palm Beach, and noise levels as well as air pollution will certainly escalate. On the roof will be eight towers (four times that allowed by code) designed to shield the HVAC equipment from the view of Biltmore residents, but there is no indication that these towers will be constructed of noise-dampening material, and there is no precedent for such towers, so decibel levels cannot be tested. As for light pollution, Publix is proposing the installation of 23 foot-high light poles8 feet higher than allowedwhich will almost certainly shine directly into Palm Beach Hotel residential units and make the whole block look like a Wal-Mart parking lot.

NEGATIVE IMPACT ON TRAFFIC FLOW AND PARKINGPublixs plans eliminate 114 off-street parking spaces, including the 44 currently leased and used by Palm Beach Hotel residents. Publix has steadfastly refused to entertain accommodations such as a shared parking easement or the construction of a two-story parking facility, for which it blames the Town of Palm Beachs building code.

Publix boasts of the 218 parking spaces its customers will now enjoy when casual observation any day of the week would show that its current parking lot is rarely, if ever, full. Meanwhile, the lack of parking currently available to residents and small businesses in the area is well-documented. Publixs plans will result in a constant flow of cars circling the block seeking street parking, which will compromise automotive and pedestrian safety and congest traffic, impeding access in the case or fire or catastrophe.

PUBLIXS BAD FAITH NEGOTIATING POSTUREThe Palm Beach Hotel Condominium Association has met with Publix representatives twice and on both occasions Publix has been intransigent in addressing our concerns. Not only have they made no accommodations, they have offered little in the way of explanation for the rationale behind their ill-serving decisions. Publix offers as a consistent defense of its current plan the irregular shape of the overall lot, but they themselves are responsible for that shape, having elected not to pursue the purchase of the one remaining lot (which is available for sale despite their attorneys assertion to the contrary) that would have resulted in a regular, rectangular shape and the ability of the supermarket to stay where it is currently situated

Our hope in submitting this petition is that you consider these compelling arguments in ruling on Publixs request for multiple variances and that you compel Publix to give more careful attention to the genuine needs of their immediate neighbors in devising a plan that best serves the Town of Palm Beach. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

*FOOTNOTE - According to the Food Marketing Institute, by 2008 a typical food retailers shelf contained approximately 50,000 items, up 50 percent increase from 1996. A recent Booz & Company study highlighted that shoppers biggest frustrations were finding and selecting products quickly, a lack of differentiation among products, and the length of time they had to spend in stores . Retailers are now finding that they have too much store capacity. This realization has led to a wave of store closings across the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

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