Four-year old law, five people bring PBC a new city

The law that led to the creation of Westlake, Palm Beach County’s newest city, was never supposed to be used.

Find out how a four-year old law, five people – and one powerful developer – brought the county a new city.

Check out Westlake’s back story here and stay with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com for full coverage on this topic.

Indian Trail Improvement District joins call for review of Westlake

The Indian Trail Improvement District has joined a call by Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay to have Gov. Rick Scott investigate the incorporation of Westlake.

“As the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors, elected to serve the residents with regards to drainage, parks and roadways of central Palm Beach County commonly known as The Acreage, we are extremely concerned about the circumstances surrounding the recent conversion of the Seminole Improvement District to Palm Beach County’s 39th municipality called Westlake,” board members wrote to Scott on Friday.

Board members raised many of the same concerns highlighted by McKinlay, who reached out to Scott on Thursday.

Westlake incorporated on Monday when the five votes in favor of conversion were certified by an elections canvassing board.

Minto Communities, the largest landowner in the Seminole Improvement District, backed incorporation, with its vice president, John Carter, saying the developer was having a hard time working with the county as it moved forward with plans to build 4,500 homes in the area.

McKinlay and the Indian Trail Improvement District have raised questions about the legality of the five votes in favor of the conversion plan.

“We respectfully ask that you investigate this issue to ensure the voting process was lawful and free of fraud and that it coincides with the intent of the governing special district conversion legislation,” Indian Trail board members wrote.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott

McKinlay asks governor to investigate incorporation of Westlake

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has asked Florida’s governor to investigate the incorporation of Westlake, a city that sprang to life on Monday with the support of only five voters.

McKinlay raised questions about the new city’s charter, which only requires that two of the five transitional council members reside in Palm Beach County. McKinlay, whose district includes Westlake, also noted that each of the five people who voted in favor of incorporation are listed in elections records as sharing the same address.

Property records show that address is for a set of offices owned by Minto Communities, the builder that plans to construct 4,500 homes and develop 2.2 million square feet of commercial space in Westlake.

Minto Vice President John Carter has said his firm backs incorporation in part because of difficulty in working with the county on such things as permitting.

In an interview with The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Roger Manning, a printing business owner who lives in unincorporated Lake Worth, said he agreed to be Westlake’s mayor at the request of Carter. Both Carter and Manning are board members of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.

McKinlay has questioned Minto’s role in the conversion of the Seminole Improvement District to the city of Westlake and points out what she sees unusual aspects of the new city’s charter.

“I understand that no law requires municipal officials to reside in the city they serve, but allowing a majority of the Transitional Council to live not only outside Westlake, but also outside of Palm Beach County, strains acceptable principles of representative government,” McKinlay wrote. “On behalf of the 40,000 residents of the Acreage and surrounding communities, I respectfully ask that you investigate the issue to ensure the voting process was lawful and coincides with the intent of the governing special district conversion legislation.”

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

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

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