Article Courtesy of The
BPalm Beach Post
By Kristina Webb
Published January 29, 2019
One of the village’s major landowners, Glenn Straub, threatened further lawsuits
and said if forced to operate his golf courses, ‘You’re not going to like the
black people who come in here, the Hispanics.’
Already-heated rhetoric between Wellington officials and developer Glenn Straub
took on a racial overtone Tuesday when he threatened the village with further
lawsuits and said that if forced to operate his now-inactive golf courses,
“You’re not going to like the black people who come in here, the Hispanics.”
The comments came as the Village Council considered clarifications to its
nuisance vegetation ordinance that would affect the golf courses at Palm Beach
Polo Golf and Country Club and Polo West, which Straub owns through a pair of
If forced to operate the courses and not just maintain them, Straub said he
would start offering Frisbee golf and soccer golf, which would draw “the black
people who come in here, the Hispanics.”
Straub’s comments drew shouts from the
crowd, which prompted a call from Mayor Anne Gerwig for
The ordinance — which passed unanimously — updates Wellington’s code to
better define how vegetation on all properties must be maintained.
Vegetation over six inches tall now is considered a nuisance on golf courses
and undeveloped, developed, partially developed or vacant half-acre or
About a dozen residents with homes along Straub’s courses commented in favor
of the updated rules, including Palm Beach Polo Property Owners Association
President Andrew Carduner, who said property values at the massive,
1,200-home community have dropped since the 18-hole Dunes golf course
stopped operating last year.
“We are in desperate need of relief,” he said, calling the vegetation rules
“a win-win for the village and the homeowners.”
“Those properties you think were worse, you think are bad two weeks ago?”
Straub responded. “They’re going to be worse, Mr. Carduner, than what they
were before, because I’ll have the public in there. You think you had a
private facility? You can’t stop the public coming in. For $3, you can come
in and play golf at the golf course. You want me to do that, I’ll go ahead
and do it. I think I’ve done pretty well for the values of your constituents
to go ahead and protect their property values for 27 years. It was a
boarded-up facility. I put the money in it. I went ahead and put 27 years of
my life in it.”
After the first hearing for the changes Jan. 8, the village and Straub’s
representatives met to discuss the ordinance. Straub said he then instructed
his crews to cut the grass on his properties to the required six inches.
But he asked the village to “hold off” on updating the
“I’ll spend the money to beat you in court if I have to, because you’re
taking away property rights,” he said Tuesday.
Wellington and Straub are engaged in several lawsuits over property
maintenance, with Straub’s companies facing millions of dollars in fines
from the village.
Lance Goodwin, president of the Chukker Cove association inside Palm Beach
Polo, called the dead grass on the course “a huge fire hazard.”
“All that stood between us and a major fire is a match or a cigarette,” he
said. “It’s something that we shouldn’t even contemplate here in the village
Straub in 2017 applied to Wellington to change the types of uses allowed on
his courses. Had those uses been approved, things could be different, said
Straub’s attorney Alexander Domb.
“One of those golf courses had to be shut down,” he said, referring to the
Straub argued the “emergency” of tall grass on his properties has been taken
care of by the recent cutting.
Several residents after the meeting questioned why the village council did
not address Straub’s comments, specifically about race. The council does not
respond to comments during public hearings.
“I’m not responsible for Mr. Straub’s statements,” Mayor Anne Gerwig said
Wednesday night. ”... He really was exposing his own thoughts, whether
that’s offensive or not.”
She was “really, really upset” to the point of tears when confronted after
the meeting by a resident who accused her of racism, she said.
It’s difficult for officials to sanction commenters for free speech, Gerwig
said, adding that she tried to “ratchet down” the tension between Straub, the
council and those in the crowd. “I don’t like the grandstanding,” she said.
Gerwig said she has asked Village Manager Paul Schofield to look into the
possibility of Straub opening the Palm Beach Polo golf course to the public.
Vice Mayor Michael Drahos addressed Straub in comments before the vote.
“If you buy a golf course, you bought a golf course and you should maintain it
as a golf course,” Drahos said. “And the solution is not to stand up here and
threaten the council or the community with the idea that you’re going to punish
us further or you’re just going to litigate this to death until we let you build
on your property. You bought a golf course, maintain it as a golf course and if
you don’t want to, sell it to somebody who will, because it’s a golf course,” he
said to applause.