Alcohol sales spur Wellington to pull Palm Beach Polo soccer permit

Updated Feb 23, 2018
Trash is seen on the ground near a soccer game at Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club in Wellington on Sunday. (Provided)

After numerous complaints and violations, Wellington this week revoked a special-use permit that allowed soccer to be played on a large field at the north end of Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club.

The tipping point: A village code enforcement officer and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies visited the site Sunday and found food and beverages, including alcohol, being sold in violation of the permit, said planning, zoning and building director Bob Basehart.

“If they have any activity out there this weekend, they will be in violation of the code,” he said.

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The permit for the weekly soccer games was issued last June, and it included 13 conditions with which property owner Glenn Straub was ordered to comply, including no food or beverage sales, no temporary facilities larger than 10-foot-by-10-foot tailgate tents or portable restroom facilities, monthly attendance counts submitted to the village, and clean-up of the site by 7 p.m. each event day.

According to village records, Wellington development review coordinator Cory Lyn Cramer sent a letter on Nov. 21 to Straub’s attorney Alexander Domb warning the permit could be revoked because of two violations: There was no screening for the portable restrooms at the site, and Straub had not yet submitted attendance counts for the events.

Residents in homes that adjoin the field where the games take place called in complaints about the lack of screening, Cramer wrote. Both violations were remedied and the permit was allowed to remain effective, village staff said.

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A letter sent Tuesday by Cramer to Domb listed the violations seen Sunday:

“The above mentioned observations are blatant non-compliance with the Special Use Permit conditions of approval,” Cramer wrote. “… Any future soccer events or other events will be considered a violation of the Land Development Regulations.”

Domb did not return a request for comment Friday afternoon.

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Straub applied to the village last year requesting a master-plan amendment to change the use allowed on the property to include field and equine sports, which would allow him to have events like the soccer games on his property without needing a special-use permit.

His application, which also requested the addition of access points to the property, was largely denied by two village boards and in December completely denied by the village council. Hundreds of residents of Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club voiced their opposition to the application. They claimed the soccer games were disruptive, and some residents spoke of players urinating on bushes and trees and changing their clothes in the open.

A sister application made similar requests for his property at Polo West Golf Club. Those requests also were denied.

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Palm Beach Polo Property Owners Association attorney Neil Schiller said his clients were “extremely happy” the village revoked the permit.

“We’ve been saying for awhile now that the applicant, in this case the soccer matches and Mr. Straub, haven’t complied with the special-use permit, and we’re happy that it’s been revoked,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight to protect the safety and security of our community and our neighborhood.”

Basehart said Straub can appeal the revocation through Wellington’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board.