Annexation Action in Palm Beach County - Blog - Rabideau Klein

Annexation Action in Palm Beach County

Don’t Let the Moving Parts of Florida’s Counties Trip You Up

Anyone that has been involved with an annexation proposal has probably witnessed one of the most tempestuous undertakings a city can make. An impending border shift that involves entire communities can bring about both strong opposition as well as vehement favor with all residents concerned.

A common occurrence in many states, including Florida, annexation is the addition of a territory into a county or city. A property might be part of the county, for example, but gets annexed, or incorporated into, a neighboring city. This often happens in states with huge population growth like Florida and is something homebuyers should be aware of when they are looking at properties.

Dividing Cities and Citizens

Annexation is often either interpreted as a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view. It might be a hardship on homeowners who are on a fixed budget and are asked to pay higher property taxes. While for the city, it is almost always a good thing if their resources can handle it as it means greater tax revenues and additional funds from utility connection charges, fines, and other fees. In return, homeowners receive benefits such as better police and fire protection and use of city recreation facilities.

Annexation can be problematic for a homebuyer, their real estate agent, and the title agent if they are unaware that the property they are interested in purchasing is situated in an area that has been annexed.

Municipal Annexation or Contraction Act

In 1974, Florida broadened acreage subject to annexation by passing the Municipal Annexation or Contraction Act, which authorized municipalities to annex territory as well as recede from territory through contraction. This allowed municipalities to annex areas that are unincorporated, share a common border, and contain urban development.

Boynton Beach Seeks an Additional 4.5 Thousand Acres

Anyone that has been involved with an annexation proposal has probably witnessed one of the most tempestuous undertakings a city can make. An impending border shift that involves entire communities can bring about both strong opposition as well as vehement favor with all residents concerned.

If you open The COBWRA (Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations) website, the first thing you will see is a popup that says “Say No to Annexation” that invites the viewer to sign their petition against the proposed annexation. Most of the 38 communities that would potentially be impacted belong to COBWRA.

The feasibility study, which will take up to a year to complete, will determine if the city’s resources can accommodate the addition communities.

Palm Beach Gardens Redefined Its Boundaries in 2017

A major county annexation happened in in Palm Beach Gardens in 2017 when the residents of over 500 homes on the western edge of the city decided to go from an unincorporated community to part of the city of Palm Beach Gardens. This added 300 acres to the city and around $1.3 million in additional tax revenue.

According to Palm Beach officials, by joining the city, the residents received faster police response times, and a new fire station will also be built over the next five years near Coconut Boulevard and Avenir Drive. Per the annexation, the city also absorbed several vacant but potentially lucrative commercial properties along Northlake Boulevard.

Palm Beach Gardens Sought Further Expansion

Last December the burgeoning city of Palm Beach Gardens, once again proposed an annexation. This time, to include five geographical areas to the east that included the approximately 8,350 residents that make up the five zones in North Palm Beach under consideration.

The city felt those property owners would benefit, not only financial savings but improved public safety and emergency response, as well as better infrastructure and more recreational services, and said that property owners would save money even though their property tax rate is slightly higher, because “Palm Beach Gardens does not charge a utility tax, has a lower telecommunications tax rate and the City pays a portion of every resident’s solid waste bill.”

A turnout of residents of communities in North Palm Beach and unincorporated Palm Beach County who would have been impacted by the proposal showed up at the City Council meeting to speak out against it, and last March it was put to a vote, and turned down.

Major enclaves and communities that were within the five areas that voted included Cabana Colony, Captain’s Key, Pirate’s Cove,  Prosperity Farms and Monet.

Wellington Just Successfully Annexed 258 Prime Acres

In February of 2024 the Village of Wellington passed an ordinance to include a ballot question on annexing 257.9 acres of unincorporated land. The annex would expand the village’s boundary north crossing the rapidly developing Southern Boulevard and along Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. The following month, resident electors of the affected area voted 19-0 to become part of the Village of Wellington.

Countywide Annexation Activity

Not all annexations are major territory swaps involving active neighborhoods and entire bordering cities. Many are smaller acreage expansions and contractions that occur for a variety of reasons. Currently, 23 municipalities in Palm Beach County are seeking some type of future annexation.

As reported in the Annexation Activity by Fiscal Year publication by the County’s Planning Division, in 2024 thirteen annexation attempts were adopted in Palm Beach County, nine failed, and two were still pending by the end of the year. In 2023, ten municipalities successfully annexed acreage while three withdrew their proposals. In 2022, seven annexations were adopted.

Annexation and the Home Buyer

When selecting potential properties to purchase, you and your real estate agent can find out if the property is annexed. In most counties this information is available online. For example, Broward County provides potential homeowners with an interactive map of its annexation history, searchable by property address.

You can also request a municipal lien search to obtain information from both the city and county. This is a good idea in general, as it will sus out any code liens, expired permits, or unpaid utilities fees that won’t show up in a regular title search.

Generally, property annexation serves to centralize certain services, such as water and sewer, but sometimes these services can be duplicated when city and county lines run alongside each other. This results in the homeowner getting billed by two different municipalities. Homeowners also must pay both city and county taxes, whereas those residents outside the city only have to pay county taxes.

Getting help from a reputable lien search company that performs municipal lien searches up front is also a good way avoid surprises down the road.

For complete legal oversight and advice, throughout your real estate transaction, including  annexations that impact ownership, a closing lawyer, Florida Bar Board Certified in Real Estate, is your best bet in any Florida property purchase..

Contact Florida Bar Board-Certified Attorneys David E. Klein, Esq. and Guy Rabideau at Rabideauklein.com. They have the expertise and experience you need to ensure that your interests are protected throughout your real estate transactions in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida. Contact Rabideau Klein today to discuss the legal implications of your Florida property transactions.

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