Town Hall Meeting – Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Thank you to everyone who took time from their schedules to attend Tuesday’s meeting regarding the purchase of the 1205/1206 property located next to Town Hall. Thanks, too, for being patient with the limitations of our Town Hall building and the resulting overflow of attendees. An official Town Meeting where votes are being taken requires specific audio/recording capabilities that are not available in off-site locations. Lastly, thanks to all who conducted themselves in a courteous, professional manner, which fortunately was nearly everyone.
This meeting was the sixth public meeting that included discourse on the purchase of the 1205/1206 property. The primary focus of this meeting was to determine the assessment method to be used for funding the purchase of the property.
The financial advisors and attorneys hired by the Town considered three assessment methods for the purpose of providing guidance: 1) 90%/10% hybrid of Equivalent Residential Unit/Front Footage, 2) 100% Front Footage, and 3) ad valorem property tax.
When discussions relating to the property purchase began, the method of funding initially being considered was a general obligation bond (ad valorem tax). After the financial advisors completed their analysis, the Commission was informed that due to the extreme spread of property values in Town, this would have meant a handful of properties (2%) would have been burdened with the lion’s share of a purchase which in fact would be benefiting everyone in Town. To provide a more equitable distribution, the advisors recommended using a revenue bond based on a special assessment methodology.
The primary purpose for the purchase of the property is to facilitate beach nourishments. The methodology recommended by consultants is the same type of methodology used for the 2011 beach nourishment – a 90%/10% hybrid of Equivalent Residential Unit/Front Footage. Click here for a spreadsheet showing examples of the three methods of financing considered. This comparison of the different methods illustrates why the 90%/10% method was ultimately recommended.
Questions and Concerns from the Meeting</strong
Following are questions/concerns that were raised regarding the property purchase. The answers shown were provided at the meeting.
What are the financial implications for each owner?
- This information is posted on the Town’s website by folio number. Anyone can see exactly what their assessed amount would be. The data has been posted since January 21.
- Hard copies of the entire tax roll for the Town are available at Town Hall or can be viewed online at this link, beginning on pg 9.
- The spreadsheet mentioned above shows examples of assessment methods and provides specifics for various unit types. This spreadsheet was presented at the meeting.
- That’s like asking if the Red Sox had won the pennant, would they have won the World Series, and by how many runs? It’s anybody’s guess.
- Note: This is a misstatement of fact. The Town forgave $205,075 in liens, not $300,000. In the information circulated by a group of residents as “Hillsboro Beach Information,” the total was exaggerated to $300,000, and by the day of the meeting, the total lien amount was being referred to by some of these people as “half a million dollars.”
- One thing has nothing to do with the other.
- Liens are levied in an effort to get derelict property brought up to code, NOT to generate revenue. It is very typical that in a purchase transaction where liens are involved, liens are forgiven to facilitate the transfer of property to what is hopefully an owner who will improve the property. The liens could potentially be forgiven no matter who buys the property.
- The $350,000 put in escrow is a typical required “deposit” to show good faith while the details of a contract are being finalized.
- Definitely, yes. For the most part, people who suggested that other properties should be used pointed to someone else’s property simply because open space exists.
- The Dezer/Kennelly property was considered, however, the developer wanted to leverage four 20+ story high-rises and quadruple the density currently permitted.
- A Recess property (1207) was considered after a resident offered to sacrifice her driveway. The driveway was by far too small for what’s required.
- The Sea Club (1221) was considered, however, when it was made clear that the Sea Club Board would need to grant a permanent easement to the Town to accommodate construction access as well as staging space, and the easement would have to be disclosed to potential buyers of Sea Club property, the offer was withdrawn.
- Property at 1105 was considered, but it is outside the nourishment template area and has a higher asking price on a per square foot basis than the 1205/1206 property. This served to support the appraisals used to determine the purchase price of 1205/1206.
- An area south of 1237-1239 (Port de Mer) was considered. This location offered only limited staging space. More importantly, the engineers advised that the infrastructure under the area includes a parking garage and would not support the weight of equipment needed.
- Property at 1231 was evaluated. It offered no space for staging, limited truck access, and the existing structure exhibited stress fractures.
- It should be noted that no Condo Board or property owner has offered their property for a permanent Town easement.
- Everyone knows the importance of location, location, location when it comes to real estate.
- The location of this property is spot-on for the needs of the Town. Specifically, it is right in the middle of the DEP-approved beach template for sand nourishments.
- In addition to needing direct beach access for nourishments, a staging area of at least 1/2 acre is required. This property has both.
- It has been five months since discussions about the purchase started, and public meetings have been held for the past three months. This timeframe doesn’t make it urgent, only efficient.
- Interest rates are currently EXTREMELY low, and may possibly go lower as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
- The 2011 sand loan assessment will finally be finished next year.
- A special assessment does not require a referendum, per State law.
- Approximately half the property owners in Town are not registered voters; a referendum would not give those taxpayers a voice.
- NOTE: The confusion here is entirely my fault. When discussions relating to the property purchase began, the method of funding being considered was a general obligation bond, which requires a referendum. In an effort to get information out to people as quickly as possible, I prematurely referred to a March referendum before the financial advisors and lawyers had completed their analysis. My apologies for the confusion.
- Not using the current formula. Coastal science tells us that much of the sand placed on the beach in the north mile will eventually benefit the central and south miles as well.
- The layout of the space can limit access. There are multiple ways to accomplish this, such as how landscaping is used and/or how the property is accessed (or not) from A1A.
- Cameras monitored by the Police Department would be installed.
- There will likely be fewer trespassers if the Town owns the property than there are now with a parking lot in front of a derelict building.
- The Commission has repeatedly said that it is not the plan.
- NOBODY in Town wants to open our beach to the public.
- Resolution No. 2020-13 was passed at Tuesday’s meeting stipulating that before public access to get State funding could be considered, an official town-wide survey would be taken for input from taxpayers. (View Resolution 2020-13)
- The Town has offered to work with neighbors to design a buffer zone on either side of the lot.
- There would be disruption once every few years, however, if we prevail with the Deerfield lawsuit, the disruption would be far less frequent.
- A nourishment is disruptive to someone, no matter what. The neighbors to 1205/1206 are in dire need of sand; this lot is right in the middle of the sand nourishment template.
- For years at a time, between nourishments, the property would provide greenery and open sky to the neighbors, as opposed to having a three-story (or more) condominium building next door.
- The lot currently has a derelict building, a derelict pool, and derelict scruffy landscaping, which the neighbors have complained about for two years. The dereliction would be replaced with tended space.
- Two arms-length appraisals were done. The purchase price is a combination of the two. These appraisals are available on the Town’s website. Link to Appraisal 1; Link to Appraisal 2
- The cost per square foot of 1205/1206 is lower than the 1105 property located outside the template area suggested by the same people who say 1205/1206 is too expensive.
- When the Town considered buying the property on the west side (1206) five years ago, the price was $6 million, just for the west side – no beach access, next to a water tank/police station/etc.
- Eminent domain still requires the Town to pay market value. The Town does not have the right to just steal property.
- There would most certainly be a lawsuit and corresponding legal fees.
- According to engineers, this would move the trouble-spot further into Hillsboro Beach.
- Wherever the terminal (last downdrift) groin is located, trouble starts.
- 500’ goes just south of Sunrise Suites. Palm Hill, Sea Club, Ocean Vista, and other buildings immediately downdrift would not be happy.
- Our section of the Atlantic coastline is extremely dynamic with intense wave action, and not easily compared to other coastlines.
- The suggestion for rectangular breakwaters has been forwarded to our coastal engineer.
- The PEM system was tried in 2007-2009 at a cost to the Town of nearly one million dollars. It failed, as evaluated by two premier coastal engineers.
- Other experimental options/devices have been explored by our engineers, but none have passed muster.
- There are hundreds of experts who work on this problem every day up and down the Florida coastline. We are in contact with a tremendous number of people all dealing with the same problem. If/when an alternative solution becomes available, we will be informed.
Rest assured, a decision of this magnitude was not undertaken lightly. It would have been far easier for the Commission to say thanks, but no thanks, and avoid any kind of controversy in the process. This Commission has vowed, however, not to kick the can down the road any longer when it comes to our beach.
Again, thank you to all who have sincerely offered input on this difficult decision, while keeping in mind that the primary consideration must be what is best for our Town today and into the future.