Voters this week Riviera Beach, Fla., approved the citizen-initiated referendum on the future of Riviera Beach city marina, giving the Citizens Task Force a victory in its fight to block a city plan to lease part of the marina to Rybovich.
The ballot question calls for a change to the city's charter and was approved with 52 percent of the vote, The Palm Beach Post reported.
The charter change prohibits "industrial commercial boat repair operations" at the city marina, a reference to the city's plan to lease the southern part of the marina to Rybovich for 25 years for a megayacht service yard.
In a lease the city council approved Sept. 15, the boat company agreed to pay $581,040 annually, or $14.5 million over 25 years, plus property taxes estimated at $150,000 annually, for use of the marina property.
"It's over," mayor Thomas Masters told the newspaper, referring to the plans for a megayacht service yard at the marina. "The people do not want their marina industrialized. Rybovich should respect the will of the people."
The charter change could face legal challenges. Part of the measure calls for the marina properties, including the Spanish Courts Motel property, to be owned, managed and operated solely by the city. The city's Community Redevelopment Agency, not the city, owns Spanish Courts. The city also must determine what the wording means for current uses at the marina.
Fane Lozman, a former marina resident who has been in several legal battles with the city, financed part of the Citizens Task Force campaign. Rybovich paid for advertising encouraging people to vote "no" on the ballot question, the newspaper reported.