WELLINGTON, Fla. — The Wellington View homeowners association is taking legal action against Palm Beach County over their approval of a nearby group foster home for kids.
"The nonprofit has all of Palm Beach County in which to relocate. The residents only have one parcel and the government has taken it from them," the document states.
A plot of land off Lyons Road and 5th Street South near Wellington, south of Southern Boulevard, was recently rezoned by Palm Beach County commissioners to accommodate HomeSafe's plans to build a foster home for 12 children ages 8 to 17, either boys or girls.
“Kids that have seen some significant trauma in their lives," said Matthew Ladika, chief executive officer of HomeSafe.
The facility is set back from the street and would have landscaping around it.
"It’s a beautiful piece of property. It’s secluded. It’s surrounded by water on roughly three sides," Ladika said. "My goal is to be the best neighbor."
The 12 children living at the facility would be under 24/7 supervision and have full-time therapy available.
"Every child is going to have their own bedroom, their own bathroom, their own air conditioning control. It will be set up so these kids have what they need to hopefully be a success," Ladika said.
However, according to the legal action, that land was promised to people living in the Wellington View neighborhood across the street for some kind of public civic use, like a park or a fire department. The HOA continues to take care of maintenance for the property, the document states.
The Wellington View HOA is petitioning the county in Appellate Court because people in the neighborhood believe they weren't afforded due process during the county commission's meetings and eventual approval of the rezoning.
"The zoning process below was not fair or respectful to the Residents," according to the legal action. "It broke rules and trampled over their procedural due process rights. The whole defective process culminated in an unlawful Zoning Resolution that deprives the Residents of constitutionally property interests, interests that they paid for and relied on when they bought their homes."
Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay, who is named at the bottom of the legal document, said: "It saddens me to see a family-oriented neighborhood like Wellington View suing to prevent twelve children from having a home in a safe community. These kids deserve the same opportunities my children and their children have. Through no fault of their own, the State removed these young boys from their parent’s care so they would be safe. We need housing for them. HomeSafe’s project was unanimously supported by the County Commission to provide this housing at this location. There were no legal barriers which prevented us from approving this and I am confident our decision will hold up in court. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas next week or put the boxes away from another Hanukkah celebration, I would hope people could open their hearts a bit more and have compassion for our kids in foster care."
HomeSafe said the project is still in the design phase, but the goal is to have it constructed and running in the next two years.