Engineer endorses contested stop signs in Frenchmen's Landing


Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

By Jennifer Sorentrue
Posted December 15, 2004


After spending more than decade battling with a small group of residents, leaders of the Frenchmen's Landing homeowners association say they have proved the stop signs along the community's main road are legal.

The association's board of directors has found an engineer to attest that four sets of four-way stops just beyond the neighborhood's front gate are in the right place.

In a letter to county traffic officials, engineer Arnold Ramos agreed the signs adhere to federal traffic standards.

"The signs are perfectly legal," Property Manager Tom Rice said. "This community is not going to budge. They realize that it's a safety issue."

Resident Norman Ingram and a handful of others in the community have argued since 1993 that the signs aren't legal because, they say, they were posted without a study to determine whether traffic conditions warranted them. They have taken their fight to the governor's office, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Motorists Association.

Ingram has even hired a lawyer and a traffic engineer to prove the signs don't belong on Frenchman's Passage.

Despite Ramos' certification that the signs are legal, Ingram says he isn't giving up the fight. The signs, he says, are a safety issue because some motorists drive through them without stopping or speed around them on side streets.

"That engineer can come in here and say they meet the specifications," Ingram said. "That's not going to stop the problem. The problem is that they just don't stop."

Paul Pennampede, a former member of the association's board who is also battling the signs, accused county leaders last week of stalling efforts to have the signs removed.

Like most gated communities, Frenchmen's Landing has an agreement with the county that allows the homeowners association to hire extra deputies to patrol its streets.

That agreement was questioned this year by county officials, who said the homeowners group had to get an engineer to certify that the stop signs were in the right place. The engineer who approved the signs withdrew his certification this spring, after Ingram challenged it.

And county officials have been asking the homeowners group to find another engineer to certify the signs since since April.

Dan Weisberg, head of the county's traffic division, said his department will review Ramos' report and issue a final ruling by the end of the week.