[Boynton Beach] City commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday with the Community Redevelopment Agency to take more than a dozen properties in the Heart of Boynton neighborhood through eminent domain.
The vote was 4-1, with Vice Mayor Mack McCray, who represents the area, voting against.
Rev. Eddie Evans, of the Jesus House of Worship church on Seacrest Boulevard, offered an emotional plea for his property.
"My concern is, if you demand that I go from there, where am I going to go?" Evans said.
Under the terms of the agreement, the property owners will be given one more opportunity to negotiate the purchase of the properties with the CRA.
The City Commission will still have to approve eminent domain procedures for those that do not agree to sell.
City officials have been working to revitalize the Heart of Boynton neighborhood for years. The properties along Martin Luther King Jr. and Seacrest boulevards are the first phase of their plan.
After the CRA gathers all the properties, it will offer them to developers to build new homes and businesses.
Many of the buildings and empty lots that make up the area serve as gathering places for drug dealers and other criminals, city officials and residents say.
"If we do not go forward with this plan, the situation that this community has been living with will continue," said Quintus Greene, the city's director of development.
In other action, the City Commission also agreed to ask for a grant from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to study whether the city could use an old landfill.
Commissioner Mike Ferguson wants the city to consider whether affordable homes can be built on 40 acres east of the city's Boynton Links Golf Course, possibly using some of the golf course land for the project as well.
His plan includes a city community land trust. The trust would issue $100,000 vouchers to homebuyers to offset the price of homes. The money would revert to the land trust when the home is sold.
The City Commission agreed to postpone an evaluation of City Manager Kurt Bressner until after a union contract is completed. Union workers said they wanted to speak about their grievances once the negotiations are over.