Council members took a big step toward what they hope will be clearer and stricter regulations aimed at restaurants suspected of evading a ban on nightclubs with live entertainment and other late-night events.
The rewrite, which received an initial OK on Sept. 20, passed 5-to-0 with little debate Thursday evening.
The measure creates more specific definitions of restaurants, nightclubs and live music and aims to provide “additional enforcement mechanisms” for violations.
At Top Taste restaurant in the Target plaza on Okeechobee Road west of State Road 7, restaurant representatives said they are facing a $15,000 fine and possible eviction. They dispute trying to act like a nightclub. There is a shortage of places in the village where customers can “unwind and have fun,” manager Shernett Thompson told The Palm Beach Post last week, noting the restaurant has stopped holding late events and closed by 11 p.m. in recent months.
Still, no one spoke publicly against the rule changes at Thursday’s meeting. Neighboring Wellington is also considering a new nightclub ordinance following arrests for drugs and weapons at an August rap concert at a rented-out restaurant.
In other action, vice mayor Selena Smith said she wants to explore closing an 18-month grace period to ban retailers that sell dogs and cats, after the apparent departure from village limits of the only store in that category. Hobby breeders and animal shelters are not affected.
Mayor Fred Pinto asked Royal Palm Beach’s attorney to “legally confirm that entity is no longer operating in the village.”
Once that is resolved, the council can consider making the ban on retail dog and cat sales effective right away at a future meeting, he said. The grace period was designed to head off a possible legal challenge, officials said previously.
Daniel Ruiz, owner of Star Pups Inc., which at the time operated on State Road 7, questioned in an August meeting whether the move was justified.
“What research has been done to even warrant this?” he asked, noting that Palm Beach County limited new stores but has not forced the closure of existing retailers.
On Friday, Ruiz confirmed in a telephone interview the store within village limits has closed and he plans to reopen on Okeechobee Boulevard in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
Several residents and members of animal-rights organizations said animals bred in “puppy mills” often suffer health problems and saddle buyers with heartbreak and high vet bills.
Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control received six complaints in the first eight months of 2018 about Star Pups, including allegations that puppies were sickly or suffered from worms, parasites and other problems, The Post reported.
One retailer did get a green light: Keith and Associates Inc. sought approval to put a 7-Eleven gas station with 12 pumps and a new convenience store near the intersection of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee Boulevards. A Mobil station sits there now.
The new owners are not proposing to put in a car wash like the existing one has, but representatives said they will offer a back-up power supply to continue operating after a storm knocks out power. The rebuild would demolish the existing facility and is expected to be completed by late next year, officials said at the meeting. Village officials required that decorative medallions be placed on three sides to “add dimension to the blank wall space.”