PALM BEACH, FL – Today was the first day of the impeachment trial against former President Donald J. Trump. It also marks the first day of the city of Palm Beach’s legal actions against the President to evict him from his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Tonight, the Palm Beach council is scheduled to hear testimony and a presentation by town attorney John C. Randolph regarding the Declaration of Use Agreement Between the Town of Palm Beach and the Mar-A-LagoClub.
Trump and the city of Palm Beach have been going back and forth for decades. After purchasing the estate in 1985, Trump turned it into a private club in 1993. One of the stipulations of the agreements between Trump and the city was that nobody could ever take up permanent residence there and stays were limited to a maximum of three weeks.
John B. Marion IV, Trump’s lawyer on the matter, in a brief written to the city council declared that the estate has always been home to the former President and that no changes are being made to the agreement.
“Chronologically, President Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago from the Post Foundation in 1985 and utilized it as his private residencel. In 1993, the Town of Palm Beach (“Town”) approved an application for a special exception (one that was contemplated by the existing zoning code and did not require a variance) to use MAL as a private social club,” Marion wrote. “The 1993 application for this special exception specifically stated: “…the actual usage of Mar-a-Lago will not change. No new activity will occur which cannot, does not or has not taken place in the past under the existing zoning of this property. The applicant seeks no physical change whatsoever to the property (such as, for instance, the addition or demolition of any improvement)…” (Emphasis supplied).”
“Importantly, while the Town could have specifically provided in the Agreement that the Owner could not reside on the property, it did not. The Town did specifically limit the use of the guest suites on the property (“The use of guest suites shall be limited to a maximum of three (3) non-consecutive seven (7) day periods by any one member during the year”), but President Trump does not use a guest suite when at MAL, he uses the “Owner’s Suite”, which is not a guest suite. It was never intended that conversion of MAL to a private club would change the nature of or the Owner’s right to use the Owner’s Suite,” he added.
John “Skip” Randolph, the town attorney for Palm Beach addressed the matter in his own letter to the council expressing his legal advice.
“Each of you are aware of the allegations of neighbors of the Mar-a-Lago Club that former President Donald J. Trump is not allowed to reside at Mar-a-Lago since it was converted in 1993 to a private club. ln sum, it is argued that Mar-a-Lago is either a private residence or a club, but cannot be both,” Randolph said.
According to the town zoning ordinance, “Within residential zoning districts, a private club may provide living quarters for its bona fide employees only.”
However, Randolph said he found a loophole that could be used to evict Trump from his home.
“It is important to note, however, that the Declaration of Use Agreement, ultimately agreed to and executed by the parties, did not incorporate a direct prohibition on former President Memorandum Re: Mar-a-Lago Club Trump Residency Re: Mar-a-Lago Club Trump Family Residency Trump residing at the Club, the language in the Agreement pertaining only to the members’ use of the guest suites. Because the Agreement is silent in regard to a specific prohibition on Trump residing at the Club, the Town should look to its Zoning Code to determine whether there is any prohibition on former President Trump residing at the Mara-Lago Club,” Randolph said.
Randolph said the this issue, therefore, hinges primarily on whether former President Trump is a bonafide employee of the Club.