Town Serving Zone – Palm Beach

Residents of Palm Beach, an island off the coast of Florida, have converted their main commercial district into a “town-serving zone,” which caps its stores at 2,000 square feet and impels them to serve primarily “town persons:” those living, or working in Palm Beach. Businesses larger than 2,000 square feet can apply for a special exception use permit provided they have an auditing firm document that more than 50 percent of receipts come from a local zip code. The zoning law was upheld in a 1991 court case, which concluded that the restrictions served legitimate public interests and reflected the town’s desire to limit the displacement of its local businesses by larger, regional establishments.

Schedule of Use Regulations
Palm Beach

It is the intent of this district to create, preserve and enhance areas of attractive, small-scale, retail, personal and professional/business services to be developed either as a unit or in individual parcels, providing for the frequently recurring needs of Townpersons: To enhance the general character of the district and its compatibility with its residential surroundings, signs are limited to those accessory to businesses conducted on the premises, including the number, area and types; and retail drive-in facilities are not permitted. Further, in order to maintain the Town-serving nature of the district, limitations on gross leasable floor (GLA) area are imposed.

Permitted Uses:
Maximum of 2,000 square feet of Gross Leasable Area (GLA):

1.Retail and service establishments, such as: restaurants and drinking establishments, hardware stores, food stores, clothing stores, drug stores, barber shops, beauty salons and jewelry stores.

2. Office and Professional Services and Business Services

3. Banks and financial institutions

4. Non-Profit Cultural Centers

5. Professional or Studio-type Schools

6. Essential Services

Accessory Uses:

1. Off-street parking and loading

2. Signs

3. One-family dwellings located above the first floor

4. Accessory uses customarily incident to the permitted or approved Special Exception Uses

Special Exception Uses:

1. Public or private parking lots or storage garages

2. Auto rental lots

3. Multi-family dwellings

4. Private social, swimming, golf, tennis and yacht clubs

5. Service stations

6. Public structures

7 Supplemental parking

8. Public or private academic schools

9. Drive-in business service facilities

10. Churches, Synagogues, or other Houses of Worship

11.Any Commercial Establishment with greater than 2,000 sq. ft. of GLA, provided the Town Council has found, as a fact, that the proposed use is Town serving.

Town-Serving: Establishments principally oriented to serving the needs of Town Persons which would not substantially rely upon the patronage of persons not defined as Town Persons. Town-serving establishments, by definition, would typically contain 2,000 or less square feet of interior Gross Leasable Area (GLA) and would not engage in advertising designed to attract other than Town Persons.

Download the PDF

Avatar photo
Follow Stacy Mitchell:
Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.