After hours of debate Wednesday, the Juno Beach Town Council approved the first reading of a discussion that dates back 20 years. It's a hot-button issue that pits the Waterford Senior Living Community against its neighbors.
"Supporting the annexation is the right thing to do for Juno Beach and its residents," one woman said.
Wednesday evening's meeting was about the move to annex seven vacant lots, plus a public right of way, in Pleasant Ridge, an unincorporated neighborhood.
"Well, here we are again," a resident of the Pleasant Ridge community said. "The issue of peace and relaxation is still with us."
The annexation gives Waterford an opportunity to build an assisted living and memory care unit, plus additional parking.
In August of last year, the request was voted down by the board.
"So sometimes you can't have what you want," Councilmember Stuart Katz said. "As an officer of Juno Beach, my first responsibility is to the town."
This time, representatives of the parent company, Lifespace Communities, are back with the same request and a modified design that includes a park.
"They don't have a legal right to put a park there," Lifespace Communities representative Harvey Oyer said. "We're trying to give them the opportunity to have legal ownership of a park. So somewhere, folks, we're not connecting. This is what they say they wanted. That's what they're getting."
Lifespace Communities released a statement that reads, in part:
Lola Hammer lives in the neighborhood and said the annexation is the wrong move for the area.
"It's just a shame to see being taken away from us," she said. "It's going to be a lot of construction, a lot of noise, a lot of traffic."
The Waterford project has passed its first hurdle. But it will take a second reading before the project can move forward.