Palm Beach Town Attorney Sides With Trump in Mar-a-Lago Residency Controversy

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 4, 2021US News
Palm Beach Town Attorney Sides With Trump in Mar-a-Lago Residency Controversy
Then-President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend a Christmas Eve dinner with his family at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Dec. 24, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

The attorney for Palm Beach said in a memo this week that former President Donald Trump can live full time at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

John Randolph said in the document that Trump can be considered a bona fide employee of the resort. Employees are defined in the town’s code as including business owners and partners.

“If he is a bona fide employee of the club, absent a specific restriction prohibiting former President Trump from residing at the club, it appears the Zoning Code permits him to reside at the club,” Randolph wrote.

The memo was obtained by news outlets and published by NPR.

Trump turned Mar-a-Lago into a private club in 1993. During a Town Council meeting that year, Trump’s attorney at the time said that Trump would not “continue to live” on the property, “except that he will be a member of the club and would be entitled to use the guest rooms.”

Some have suggested the statement means Trump may only use the club as a member. Members are barred from residing at Mar-a-Lago for more than three non-consecutive seven-day periods per year.

But the final rules dictating the use of Mar-a-Lago did not include a direct prohibition on Trump residing there, Randolph said in his memo, prompting the need to look to its own zoning code.

NTD Photo
The Mar-a-Lago resort is seen on April 6, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The Mar-a-Lago estate is seen in Palm Beach, Fla., on Dec. 18, 2019. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

Trump lawyer John Marion said in a letter to the town last month about the Mar-a-Lago controversy that Trump “has the right to reside there.”

“Importantly, while the town could have specifically provided in the agreement that the owner could not reside on the property, it did not,” he wrote.

The agreement says that the actual usage of Mar-a-Lago would not change. It said no new activity would occur which cannot does not, or has not, taken place in the past under the existing zoning of the property.

Since Trump lived at Mar-a-Lago prior to its conversion into a club, his residency was grandfathered in, his attorney suggested. Trump is, under the town’s zoning, a bona fide employee, his representatives believe.

Town Manager Kirk Blouin confirmed to The Epoch Times last week that the town is reviewing Trump’s residency at Mar-a-Lago.

“Our town attorney, John Randolph, is reviewing the Declaration of Use Agreement and our Code of Ordinances to determine if former President Trump can live at Mar-a-Lago,” he said via email.

The town is expected to take up the issue at a Feb. 9 Town Council meeting.

Trump bought Mar-a-Lago in 1985. He changed his permanent residence from New York to Florida in 2019.

A person living near the club alleged through a lawyer in late 2020 that Trump’s plans to begin residing at Mar-a-Lago full time after leaving office would violate the 1993 agreement.

“In order to avoid an embarrassing situation for everyone and to give the president time to make other living arrangements in the area, we trust you will work with his team to remind them of the Use Agreement parameters,” attorney Reginald Stambaugh wrote. “Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale and surely he can find one which meets his needs.” [delete]

From The Epoch Times