Loxahatchee Groves has until the end of business on Tuesday to respond to a lawsuit which compelled the town clerk to show why the controversial Palm Beach State College campus issue shouldn’t come to a vote.
“I have no doubt they will file,” said Robert Hartsell, the Pompano Beach attorney representing the group that filed the suit in April. “Everybody waits until the last day to file.”
Town Attorney Mike Cirullo didn’t return a call seeking comment.
For more than a year, a group of residents have opposed the college campus on 75 acres on the northwest corner of B Road and Southern Boulevard and the surrounding commercial development, saying they would destroy the town’s rural way of life by bringing in more people and traffic.
The residents created a petition to stop the campus, gathering 267 signatures. In February, however, Town Clerk Susan Eichhorn deemed the petition insufficient. She said the text of the ordinance wasn’t attached and that the affidavit submitted failed to include the correct language to inform the town clerk that each person who signed the petition had the chance to read the full ordinance text.
The group immediately filed an affidavit to challenge the ruling. In March, the council supported Eichhorn’s decision, with Councilman Tom Goltzene the lone dissenter. A month later Hartsell’s firm filed a writ of mandamus in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. The suit asks the court to repeal the two land-use ordinances that gave the college the green light to start construction. It also compels the town to place the issue on the next general or special election or show cause why it shouldn’t be.
Hartsell said after the town files, a judge will decide if the issue goes to a vote. That could happen in the next two weeks, he said.
“We’re very confident,” Hartsell said. “The town charter says that citizens have the ability to put forward an initiative. And their argument that the text of the language amendment was not attached, is a (false) accusation. They have no proof of that.”