On January 26th, 2023, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners (BCC) held a hearing for the owners of the Palm Beach International Raceway to redevelop the land from racetrack to warehouses. The six-hour-long meeting heard the land owners make their requests, and read comments from 89 residents defending the use of the racetrack and opposing the redevelopment plan, and heard testimony from 35 members, as well. The board ultimately voted 4-2 to deny the owner’s request. The land owners subsequently appealed the decision and the application will now go before a special magistrate who will make a recommendation to the board on the matter on April 19th, 2023.
On March 10th, 2023, however, Palm Beach County released a written response to the appeal, noting that the land owners failed to demonstrate the required site-specific change in conditions or circumstances necessitating the change in use from racetrack to warehouses.
The statement continues to note that the land owners are also ignoring the fact that under the county’s Unified Land Development Code, the BCC must also consider the public testimony submitted before and given at the hearing. The statement followed with, “The factual testimony that the BCC heard at the hearing contradicted the Owners’ assertion that it had demonstrated site-specific changed circumstances necessitating the requested change from racetrack to warehouses, and under the ULDC, if one of the standards is not satisfied, then the BCC must deny the application as contrary to the public interest.”
“Since the applicant has appealed the denial decision, the application will now go in front of a special magistrate, basically a Judge, to deliver a recommendation to the Board for another vote,” said racetrack proponent Madelyn Marconi. “The County, however, is now justifying the decision and says that the racetrack is needed in the community and would still be used, as drag racing is thriving across the community and country. It would also be useful to combat illegal street racing on public roads. The April 19th hearing will focus on the legal side as well as adversity to public interest. Sometimes zoning boards are restricted to what they can deny or approve and now they have competent substantial evidence on their side to justify the decision that was rendered at the January 26th hearing.”
At this point, the rallying enthusiasts are hoping to make sure the racetrack is not torn down and ideally brought back to use.
“The Sheriff of Palm Beach County still wants it to remain a raceway. Just because you want to destroy something doesn’t mean you can,” Marconi said.