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March 8, 2017 / CorpWell

The Inlet Village

“The Scoop on Jupiter’s Town Candidates.”

By Lara Moore                                                                                               Read or print article:  Epub

Uncommon History, Potential Unique Future and the Scoop on Jupiter’s Town Candidates for March 14th Election.

It seems as if ‘The Inlet Village’ in Jupiter is a sought-after fine wine or an area where everyone including residents, conservationist, developers, and history buffs want to be.

Last week the Celestial Road Marker was inaugurated. The mayor spoke and was followed by Jamie Stuve, president of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, who presented the history of this site, which marks so much of the Inlet Village history.

In 1885, the Town of Jupiter depended on the Indian River Steamboat Company to bring passengers and freight south from Titusville. When the passengers reached Juno Beach, they could board another steamer named the ‘Lake Worth,’ to continue to Palm Beach or other points farther south. The train, however, made the connection between Juno Beach and Jupiter. A line of freight wagons pulled by oxen—called bull trains—that shuttled passengers and cargo over the 7.5 miles of rough and rutted road was only transportation available between these two ports. (1)

The narrow-gauge line was planned to run for those 7.5 miles, from Juno through the wilderness waystations of Venus and Mars, and finally, end in the shadow of the Jupiter Lighthouse. The J. and L.W. Railway began operation on July 4, 1889, and traveled from Jupiter Inlet to Juno at the north end of Lake Worth. The line carried passengers and freight cargo and replaced a wagon route that used oxen for transporting people and goods. In an 1893 article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, the railroad was nicknamed the “Celestial Railroad” because of its stops at Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Juno. (1)

Nicolette Asselin, a board member of Corpwell.org(5),  attended the ceremony and recounted: “As I stood there listening to Jamie speak, I could visualize and almost hear the old steam train pulling in the middle of the wilderness and suggestive images of that time came rushing in my head.”

I echoed at her vision. “This has still the jungle look. Guanabana is right on for that idea? I don’t know about the royal palms, but perhaps a visionary Seminole planted them!” She smiled and added, “Yes, and a pretty tall one as well! What a remarkable chronological past for this district? It is a historical village. How are we going to turn this area so rich in ancient narratives into an unusual and extraordinary destination, not a small playground akin Coney Island or other spoiled parts of Florida by untamed growth and developers?” I replied, “I am with you on that.” She continued, “Later, I met Josh Liller, a historian at the Light House. As a native of the area, he is very enthusiastic. Next Andrews Foster joined us, talking about his great-grandfather Captain Charles H. Coe. As an amateur archeologist, Andrew Foster described how Captain Coe was able to recognize old Seminole encampments, miles away. Coe authored the book ‘Red Patriots’ the Story of the Seminoles, published in 1898. He was also the Editor of the Florida Star, 1877 Newspaper that appears to be very concerned about wise land development.” “This is fascinating.” I chimed in. She added” “As I left the event, I felt again full of hope for the Inlet Village.”

Love Street project and Teri Grooms

According to the many articles in the local press, residents moved to the area for the sleepy village setting, not for a tourist town. Their determined opposition to new developers has marked the past year. Everyone who has followed the debate has probably heard of the courageous effort of Jupiter native Teri Grooms.  A District 1 (4) Town of Jupiter council candidate for the March 14th election, and of her supporters who stood against the Love Street land, and filed a moratorium to put a stop on development during the summer of 2016.

Lighthouse Cove Mini-Golf

What people may not have heard about is the less publicized saga about Lighthouse Cove Mini-Golf. In 2012, the owners applied to zoning for a permit to open their business. Jupiter Dune residents and Ocean Park residents presented significant opposition. However, despite the strong opposition, Mayor Golonka voted to approve the plan, but with an important, sensitive, and mindful compromise: The creation of a conservation land portion on the east side that would benefit the Jupiter Dune community.

As I understand, after this event, everyone went home and tried to live with the new arrangement. Some residents on that side who were subjected to music and lights called to complain, yet for some strange reason, none of the complaints were passed on to Dean Fowler from code compliance, Carol Watson, another District 1 (4) Town Council Candidate, reported.

What residents did not know is that, while they were spending summers with their families out West or up North, something was brewing in Jupiter: Owners of the Light House Cove Mini-Golf had hired the town-favorite landscape company, Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Associates, who filed an amendment to the 2012 resolution.

Posted zoning signs misled those who saw them as the notice called for a playground and pavilion. Some local news talked about the business offering birthday parties—nothing different from the original plan. Furthermore, since it was presented as an ‘amendment,’ owners had no obligations to send a written notice to abutting properties. Was this an underhanded approach by owners, their consultant, Gentile, or zoning, who knew that a variance would have required a written notice that may have produced opposition by abutting properties Jupiter Dune and Jupiter Park?

Rather than risk bring on oppositions, by sending a notice, their application presented letters of recommendation from nearby businesses. A significant part of the story is that owners purchased the right to build on conservation land for the small sum of $150,000— a third of its value. A good deal for the owners, but a new ignitor to the residents’ prior fury and resignation.

Homeowners realized something was wrong when the bulldozers pulled in to clean out the conservation land, and they looked back to determine how this had been possible. They had missed not only the discussion at a town hall of September 20th but also the 30-day appeal period. Advocate for conservation land, Nicolette Asselin, approached the town to discuss replacing the conservation land with nearby vegetation, but after January’s articles, she said, “Every resident I spoke to was furious. The outrage reached its peak, the article was not describing a birthday outdoor pavilion but a 15-TV restaurant. People went over asking what this was about and were told, ‘It will be like a Duffy.’ The next question, of course, was: Is this a sports bar in an open pavilion?”

Asselin said that zoning was called and callers were assured: “It is according to plan or resolution signed on September 20th.” People objected: But the description of the Resolution signed that fall was of a pavilion for rental and a playground! How can you be talking about a ‘restaurant’?

Next Dan Zucchi, a board member of Jupiter Dune, called someone he knew at town hall, Town Councilman Wayne Posner. His written response to his inquiry was: “(1) There was an extensive outreach to the public before the hearing… (2) They were forced to put up $150,000… (3) There will not be any alcohol served in the new pavilion.”

To clarify his statement, Jupiter Dune Golf Course Association President Steve Shain, HOA President Gary Sommer, and Treasurer Jack Adderly met with Posner who had voted for the expansion. A board member asked, “…but if there was an extensive outreach, how is it that no one knows about it? There are four legal entities representing owners of abutting properties, 150 units or over 300 residents and not a single soul has ever heard of this change?” Posner had no answer to the point.

The next question was from Adderly, “You said: They were forced to put up $150,000, which I thought was an expensive cost, could you clarify that statement? The requested initial amount was $500,000. Isn’t that an excellent deal for these owners, but a terrible one for our property owners? The owners knew when they purchased the land of its existing covenants. How could this be legal?”Town Councilman did not have an answer to his pointed question and declined to answer, and said he would get back on that.

During another deliberation on the issue, someone who was present during zoning board discussions explained. “The owners were struggling with slow summers. It was the position of the department to help them.” Someone in the audience asked: “But since when does this administration favors business owners over residents? Our community contributes significant taxes, probably more than a struggling business.”

Going back to the board meeting with Posner, Asselin explained: “the last point Wayne Posner made was the one that completely appalled everyone: “(3) There will not be any alcohol served in the new pavilion.” Again, a representative of the board, Jack Adderly asked, pointing to the legal document, “but in this resolution, it does not say that. It says no alcohol East of the Pavilion, and perhaps you missed that?” Councilman Posner looked at the legal document and said, “What? I could swear they said no alcohol at the meeting. We had a very long conversation about it. Well, I suppose I was confused, you know so many papers are presented in front of us…. It’s hard to keep up with all the decisions made at town council.” A board member added, “But, you had promised to look after us, how could you let this slip?” Posner replied, “I am going right now to town hall to ask for an explanation and have this corrected.” Gary Sommer added, “You do that, we will be waiting for your solution,” and gave him a deadline.

The next week after that meeting, “Zoning sent an email explaining the difference between due notice requirements with amendment and variation. The deadline came and went, with no word from Posner. Someone followed-up and finally a note was received. The letter confirmed that the town and owners had done everything according to the amendment signed in property owners’ absence. There was no mistake, Councilman Posner was only asleep, or confused, I suppose.“

As it turned out: Mr. Posner admitted he had misspoken on all three affirmations. Reportedly, the town’s decision for the resolution hasn’t been approved by residents, and we will hear more of the situation in the future as they feel deceived and have apparently lost confidence in the town’s honesty, as did the Love Street opposition to land swaps.

In conclusion, from a sleepy district, the Inlet Village has become a new battleground for developers, residents, and individuals representing the historical society, nature conservancy, and more. As I sipped on a lemonade at Guanabana, I looked at paddle boards and envisioned old wood boats  n educational park where Suny Sand stood  rich with light powdery sand and native plants—an integrated wildlife museum, natural salt water pools on the water edge, historical artifacts, and a rebuilt boathouse. I would be willing to pay an entry fee or be a supporting member. If you want to hear more about this vision and receive information go to Inletvillage.org

About the author: Lara Moore lives in Palm Beach County and writes about topics involving people’s lives and history. She has written for magazines and newspapers. She is currently a Senior Editor at CorpWell Media.

References:

  • The Celestial Railway The Inlet Village.” org N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017
  • Celestial Railroad Marker | The Inlet Village.” org N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017
  • Captain Charles Henry Coe By Andrew M. Foster (Great Grand Son)
  • Inlet Village is in District 1
  • CorpWell.org is a not-for-profit organization involved in educational projects.

Photo: Courtesy of Nicolette Asselin, (Center) Todd Wodraska, (Right) Wayne Posner

 

 

 

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