Lake Worth removes building heights limit from November vote

City commissioners decided Tuesday not to place a building height referendum on the Nov. 6, but a signature-gathering effort still could place the proposed charter amendment on the ballot.

After supporters of building height restrictions chanted "voters' rights on building heights" outside city hall, commissioners voted 3-2 to remove from Tuesday's agenda an ordinance that would have placed the Respectful Planning Lake Worth Political Committee's charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Commissioners Suzanne Mulvehill and Christopher McVoy voted in favor of placing the building height amendment on the ballot. Mulvehill proposed the amendment in June after commissioners approved on first reading a comprehensive plan amendment that allows 65-foot buildings east of Federal Highway.

The proposed amendment would limit building heights along Lake and Lucerne avenues to 45 feet from the Intracoastal Waterway to F Street and to 35 feet from F Street to A Street. The limits would extend north to Second Avenue North and south to First Avenue South.

As of Tuesday, PAC volunteers said they had gathered about 1,300 signatures in favor of the placing the building height amendment on the ballot. They need about 1,500 signatures of city voters, certified by the supervisor of elections, by Aug. 10 to place the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The petition drive could lead to a ballot question at a later date, forcing a special election that would cost taxpayers about $30,000.

McVoy encouraged the commission to put the building heights amendment on the ballot. "Then, we will have listened to our public," he said.

Mayor Pam Triolo said the building heights debate was related to the November city election, when the seats held by McVoy and Mulvehill will be open.

"It's an election year, and someone needs to have something to hang their hat on," Triolo said. "It's become a big spectacle. I'm very concerned, and I'm very disappointed."

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