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Boynton wants eminent domain for 6 pieces of land for neighborhood
Monday, 22 February 2016 14:47

By Alexandra Seltzer - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 | Posted: 1:46 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016
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After going back and forth with land owners, Boynton Beach for the second time in at least 13 years is looking at using the eminent domain process to obtain property to be used by the public in the Heart of Boynton. The Community Redevelopment Agency and the city are working on redeveloping the blighted area to create a neighborhood, and need to acquire certain strips of land to do so.
The wanted pieces of land will be used to expand the main roadway and to install utilities on Northwest 11th Avenue and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is part of the Model Block project also known as Poinciana Gardens. The project also includes landscaping, new sidewalks, neighborhood entrance signs, a bus shelter and construction of new homes. It also includes building a new route for people to access Poinciana Elementary.
They have had luck with negotiating with other property owners to do this voluntarily. The city, CRA and the Boynton Beach Faith Based Community Development Corp. already own most of the properties in the area.
But the city has met resistance for six pieces of land. This month, the City Commission gave the OK to staff to go through the process — which allows governments to take private property for public use with some form of compensation to the owner and involves the courts — if necessary.
“This is what has to happen for us to move forward,” Commissioner Mack McCray, who represents the area, told The Palm Beach Post on Thursday.
The properties together are appraised at about $345,800, according to city documents.
As of now, the city and the CRA have “made some initial offers to purchase the needed properties based upon the appraised value,” city spokeswoman Eleanor Krusell said in a statement.
Nathan Collins Jr., 70, is the owner of one of the properties on Northwest 11th Avenue. The lot he owns is now vacant, but once held the home Collins grew up and was born in. His family has owned the parcel for about 90 years.
A sign for Poinciana Gardens along Seacrest Blvd. stands in front of the properties that are being acquired by the city of Boynton Beach, February 18, 2016. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)
Collins knows the city wants to buy the front of his property to expand the avenue, and said he’s not opposed to them buying the property, as long as he is paid a fair price.
“They want to purchase all this to build houses. Anything to improve the quality of life, and the community, and to put the property back on the tax roll,” he said.
His father, Nathan Collins, bought the lot for $50 after he was discharged from World War I. The land the city wants is appraised at $6,700, according to city documents.
The other property owners weren’t immediately available Thursday. Some of the lots are empty. Some have small apartment complexes on them. One is a house. And another is the Maranatha Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church.
Use of the eminent domain process is rare but it has happened in Palm Beach County:
- Lake Worth used it this past year to buy three small strips of land the city said it needed for road improvements and infrastructure work along Boutwell Road.
Eleventh Avenue in Boynton in Boynton Beach separates Poinciana Elementary School and several lots that are going through the eminent domain process as part of local redevelopment efforts, February 18, 2016. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)
- Also this past year, the County Commission gave staff approval to go through the process to widen Old Dixie Highway from Park Avenue to Northlake Boulevard.
- In 2014, the Palm Beach Gardens City Council voted to begin the process against a homeowner who wanted to be paid for an easement through his property to allow for his neighborhood to have paved roads and public water.
- And, it’s been used in Boynton before. In the 1990s the city seized some homes on behalf of the Palm Beach County School District, who needed the land for Poinciana Elementary. In 2003, the City went through eminent domain to acquire four parcels to build a drainage/retention pond. One parcel went to a jury trial to determine compensation, Krusell said.

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