Pinecrest council members are postponing a fight over whether a proposed restaurant in Pinecrest Gardens will be allowed to host parties serving alcohol.
Council members decided they will let people looking to open a restaurant in Pinecrest Gardens submit proposals and then deal with whether rules about parties with alcohol will be changed. The council has been hoping to lease space in the Gardens’ Cypress Hall as a way to offset the cost of maintaining the 20-acre property, which features more than 1,000 types of plants.
“I think we will have to basically play it by ear and see what responses we get,” Mayor Cindy Lerner said at Tuesday’s Village Council meeting.
Current rules do not allow for nighttime parties with alcohol in the Gardens. This rule was stated in a resolution passed by the Village Council when Pinecrest bought the Gardens 10 years ago. The gardens are on the former site of the Parrot Jungle, which moved to Watson Island in Miami.
The village is now accepting proposals from companies who want to create a restaurant in Cypress Hall, but consultants hired by the village said that a restaurateur would want to host nighttime parties serving alcohol.
That is why the village said in its solicitation to restaurateurs that the council could change the alcohol rule, thus making the possible restaurant spot more profitable.
Some Pinecrest residents, however, don’t like this plan. At last month’s council meeting, they told the council to not allow any restaurateur to break the rule about night-time parties with alcohol. Residents accused the council of trying to sneak in plans for a banquet hall in Pinecrest Gardens, which council members said was not true.
Officials eventually met with residents over the last few weeks to figure out a way to move forward, but no middle ground has been presented.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez said that the residents remain opposed to any plan that changed the standing legal agreement.
“The theme of all of those meetings is ‘no, absolutely not,’ ” she told council members.
It’s not clear whether the night-time parties rule is legally binding on the council. The council’s 2002 resolution describes the rule as a “covenant.” Ordinarily, a restrictive covenant is a promise about what a landowner will or won’t do with his property for the sake of a specific neighbor or neighbors. This kind of promise is legally binding, and the owner of the benefitting property named in the covenant could seek a court order to enforce it if necessary.
A common example is a golf course built in conjunction with adjoining homes. Often, developers would place a restrictive covenant on the golf course to benefit specific adjoining properties, promising that the golf course would not be used for any other purpose. Anyone who bought the course would be bound by the covenant, and could not change the use of the land without support of the owners of adjoining properties named in the written promise.
But the Gardens case is unusual because the “covenants” mentioned in the resolution don’t name any specific beneficiary. That means, despite the name, the night-time parties rule is not a true restrictive covenant, and the Village Council could change it by a simple majority vote, according to an opinion letter prepared for the village in April by Nancy E. Stroud, a land use and local government attorney in Boca Raton.