Palm Beach to maintain early-morning maintenance schedule despite new construction rules

·3 min read
An employee of Zimmerman Tree Service trims palm trees along Cocoanut row in October 2020.
An employee of Zimmerman Tree Service trims palm trees along Cocoanut row in October 2020.

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Early-morning work performed by Palm Beach's Public Works Department will continue despite new rules that limit construction and landscaping hours on the island.

At its meeting June 14, the Town Council directed the department and its vendors to continue their work, noting that an exception in the ordinance it approved in December allowed for the operation of equipment relating to essential services of the town.

Those services include tree trimming, which typically begins at 7:30 a.m.

Other essential services that do not fall under the ordinance and will continue without disruption include street sweeping; cleaning and maintenance; and sanitation, recycling and yard waste collection.

More: Town Council OKs expansion of 'three strikes' program for construction site violations

Much of this work begins early in the day to avoid damage to vehicles and minimize parking disruptions, Public Works Director Paul Brazil told the council.

Street sweeping starts as early as 6 a.m., Brazil said, while sanitation, and routine maintenance get underway by 8 a.m.

"If we don't start early, we'll never get the parking spaces," Brazil said.

Worth Avenue, in particular, requires an early start for maintenance and cleaning work. The town performs various maintenance functions within the shopping and dining district, such as cleaning the streets and sidewalks.

"We need to get in before the stores open," Brazil said.

Brazil said some residents began raising questions about the early starting time for the town's essential services work after the new construction and landscaping ordinance was adopted, and he brought the issue before the council to seek clarification.

"There's an exception in the revision for essential town services," he told council members. "We believe you want us to continue to provide services that we normally provide in the hours that we normally provide it. We wanted clarification to help code enforcement and others who watch our work and assume that we're breaking some rule."

The revised ordinance eliminates Saturday construction hours during the winter peak season; places limits on quiet indoor construction and lawn maintenance; and prohibits workers from arriving to construction sites prior to 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays.

It includes exemptions for all multi-family properties south of Sloan’s Curve with a governing board that approves construction work, with the exception of those located on Ibis Isle.

Council members said they weighed the concerns of residents and construction companies in creating the new restrictions.

"I've heard loud and clear from a lot of residents that they want some quiet Saturdays," council member Ted Cooney said in November. "But we do have a lot of construction activity going on, and those doing construction aren't having the easiest time. They're saddled with the international supply chain issues slowing their projects down and causing delays. I'm also sensitive to residents who are doing work."

The new restrictions became effective Jan. 31.

Council members agreed unanimously to allow the Public Works Department to continue its essential services work with no changes.

Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at jwagner@pbdailynews.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach to continue early-morning maintenance work despite new rules