Palm Beach Business Development Board CEO under fire in controversial land deal
The president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Kelly Smallridge, is facing accusations of unethically benefiting from a land deal in Jupiter, the Palm Beach Post reported. The town of Jupiter plans to acquire two land parcels for a controversial road expansion that happen to be owned by Smallridge’s family.
The issue came to light after Florida Atlantic University students, working on a documentary about historically black communities in the Jupiter area, discovered that Smallridge’s husband, Mark, bought the properties in 2002 and 2003 with knowledge that the area would one day be developed for Scripps-linked biotech businesses, according to the Post.
“My main issue is that they are personally profiting off displacing people in Jupiter,” Britni Hiatt, a women’s studies major at FAU. “This isn’t about demonizing the Smallridges, but there is a history of environmental racism in the area.”
However, the Smallridges counter that both the timing of the purchase and the fact that they are selling the properties to a company that has an agreement to then sell to Jupiter clears them off the charges. They argue that if they were really looking for a payout from the city they would hold onto the sites.
“There’s really nothing Mark could do in business that wouldn’t be perceived as a conflict of interest,” Kelly Smallridge, said. “He’s carried these properties for 11 years and — do the math — he’s been paying taxes on them, he’s not making money off this.” [PBP] —Christopher Cameron