Mayor of Westlake runs printing business, looking forward to serving

The newest mayor of Palm Beach County’s newest city doesn’t live there, and he’s not sure he will move there even after taking the oath of office.

But Roger Manning, who lives in unincorporated Lake Worth and has run a printing business there for more than 30 years, said he is looking forward to serving as Westlake’s inaugural mayor.

Nothing about Westlake’s founding has been standard, and Manning, 62, didn’t become mayor by kissing babies and earning votes.

He said he was asked to serve as the infant city’s mayor by John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, the builder that plans to construct 4,500 homes and develop 2.2 million square feet of commercial space in an area of The Acreage that is largely fields and groves.

Carter and Manning serve as board members for the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.

Minto is the largest landowner in Westlake and supports its incorporation, much to the chagrin of area residents, who don’t want the hustle and bustle they believe the developer will bring to their quiet area.

County officials who endured intense criticism two years ago when they worked with Minto to set limits on the size of the development – only to have Minto support an incorporation that could open the door to even more development – aren’t thrilled, either.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes Westlake, has called Minto “greedy” and said it’s backing of incorporation was “a dishonest business practice.”

In an exclusive interview with The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Manning said he is aware of the frustration surrounding Westlake’s start as a city.

“Some things are shocking for a start, but, once people work together, things can work out,” Manning said.

Manning said his decision to stand as mayor wasn’t a snap choice. He said he visited the area and determined that it could use much of what Minto plans to bring.

“There is a real need for services in that area,” he said. “The area looks like it needs more services.”

Read more about Westlake’s new mayor – including his views on a jailed former Westlake council member and on how he plans to work with Minto – later today at http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com.

Westlake Mayor Roger Manning
Westlake Mayor Roger Manning

 

 

Jailed Westlake council member resigns

Anthony Fritz, one of Westlake’s founding city council members, resigned on Tuesday in letter addressed to the new town’s mayor.

“Mayor,” Fritz wrote in the undated letter. “This letter serves as my formal notice of resignation from the City Council of the City of Westlake effective immediately. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the City of Westlake.”

The letter, stamped as being received on Tuesday, was sent to The Palm Beach Post on Thursday by the manager of the Seminole Improvement District, which, with the votes Fritz and four others, was converted into Palm Beach County’s newest city on Monday.

Fritz, 27, has an extensive arrest record and is currently in jail in Belle Glade on a charge of battering his live-in girlfriend.

Minto Communities, the developer who plans to construct 4,500 homes in Westlake, has supported incorporation, which has drawn opposition from area residents and some county officials.

Efforts to reach Fritz or any of the voters or council members involved in the founding of Westlake have been unsuccessful. Minto, whose vice president was quoted in a statement announcing the city’s incorporation, did not respond to requests for information about the voters or council members.

The Seminole Improvement District manager, Ken Cassel, also did not provide information about those involved in the incorporation when asked on Wednesday.

Anthony Fritz
Anthony Fritz

 

“1000 Friends of Florida” appeals rejection of attempt to block Minto West/Westlake

080914-Minto-West-1The group fighting to overturn approval of the sprawling development now called Westlake said Wednesday it’s appealing last month’s ruling to dismiss its case.

“”We believe this ruling is inconsistent with numerous comprehensive plan policies regarding development and road design in and around rural communities,” 1000 Friends of Florida attorney Robert Hartsell said in a statement.

After the county approved the project, formerly known as Minto West, environmentalists, preservationists and residents of The Acreage sued, arguing that the project violated state laws against sprawl and that the county had ignored its own comprehensive plan.

Last year, an administrative law judge ruled that the county did not violate state laws against sprawl in approving pro-Minto changes to the county’s comprehensive plan. After the state Department of Economic Opportunity affirmed that ruling, the only legal challenge remaining was whether the county ignored its comprehensive plan in approving the project.

Acting Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Edward Garrison ruled April 26 that the county did not do so.

The ruling was the latest setback for environmentalists and preservationists, who argue Westlake and other large development projects will lead to sprawl and damage the environment.

Meanwhile, Minto, using a state law passed in 2012, is backing efforts to have the project area incorporated as the county’s 39th city.

 

Minto, PBC prevail in legal challenge to development project

Minto Communities and Palm Beach County have prevailed in a legal challenge to the 4,500-unit development project in The Acreage.

ALERTS of Palm Beach County, a Loxahatchee community group, 1000 Friends of Florida and two Acreage residents sued Minto and the county, arguing that the county did not adhere to its comprehensive plan in approving the project.

But on Tuesday acting Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Edward Garrison ruled in favor of Minto and the county.

The ruling was one of several that have cleared the way for construction to take place.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company's controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company’s controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County judge hears call to toss Minto lawsuit

A judge Monday heard arguments in a call to throw out a lawsuit trying to block the massive development once called Minto West and now known as Westlake.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Edward A. Garrison made no ruling Monday, saying he’d study the case a080914-Minto-West-1nd get back to the lawyers.

In December 2014, the environmental group 1,000 Friends of
Florida, and a grassroots coalition of Loxahatchee and Acreage residents, filed separate motions, seeking to overturn the Palm Beach County Commission’s October 2014 green-lighting of the sprawling mixed-use development.

It would feature 4,500 homes and 2.1 million square feet of offices and retail on 3,800 acres that once raised citrus trees in the heart of The Acreage. The plaintiffs said it would snarl traffic, invite urban sprawl and alter the area’s rural way of life.

Robert Hartsell (l) and Ralf Brookes, attorneys for plaintiffs (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)
Robert Hartsell (l) and Ralf Brookes, attorneys for plaintiffs (Staff photo/Eliot Kleinberg)

In its motion for summary judgment, the county had argued law doesn’t allow 1000 Friends or the residents to get the relief they seek. Plaintiffs had filed a response disputing that.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Ruling knocks down legal hurdle to Westlake development

Opponents of the 3,800-acre development project formerly known as Minto West were dealt a major blow Thursday when a ruling from the 1st District Court of Appeals cleared the way for the project to proceed.

The project, now known as Westlake, was approved by the Palm Beach County Commission in October 2014 despite opposition from those who felt it would snarl traffic and invite urban sprawl.

Those opponents filed a series of legal objections, including one challenging the state Department of Economic Opportunity’s decision that the county’s approval of the project did not violate state laws against sprawl.

The 1st District Court of Appeals affirmed the DEO’s decision.

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Post on Growth
Post on Growth

Images show massive scale of planned Westlake project near Acreage

Minto Communities Vice President John F. Carter said his firm’s giant development project on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road will create thousands of jobs in Palm Beach County and have an economic impact of $1 billion over the next two decades.

Westlake6
This layout shows the plans for the town center portion of Westlake, a Minto community. (All images provided by Minto)

The project, formerly known as Minto West and now to be called Westlake, has been the subject of intense debate about growth in the county.

Carter offered updates and details on the project during an Economic Forum luncheon Thursday at the Kravis Center.

Complete coverage of Carter’s presentation can be found here.

Westlake5
Plans for Westlake include commercial, residential and recreational areas.

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