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Palm Beach Town Council To Decide If Trump Can Legally Live At Mar-a-Lago

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

While the Senate debated the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, in Florida, another deliberative body was also considering Trump's future. Today in Palm Beach, the town council considered whether Trump can live full time at Mar-a-Lago, his private club. NPR's Greg Allen is in Florida, following this story.

Hey, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So we should note this is - he's already there. He's been living at Mar-a-Lago since he left Washington. What exactly is the town council considering here?

ALLEN: Well, you know, Trump has had a long, contentious relationship with people - residents, the officials in town in Palm Beach since the mid-'80s, when he first bought the historic estate. In 1993, after lengthy negotiations with the town, he converted the historic estate to a private club, and an agreement he signed at the time said that no member of the club could live there more than three weeks out of every year. And so some Mar-a-Lago residents have asked the town to remind Trump that he can't live there more than those three weeks every year. Trump's lawyer John Marion says the town's zoning code, though, does allow employees to live at private clubs. And as owner of the club, under the zoning code, Trump is legally defined as an employee.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN MARION: This guy, as he wanders the property, is like the mayor of the town of Mar-a-Lago, if you will.

KELLY: All right. We don't have a decision yet for the town council. What are the options it's considering? Are they - can they - really think they might tell a former president, get out of town; you're not welcome?

ALLEN: I don't think they want to do that. Palm Beach's town attorney has sent a memo to the council essentially endorsing the Trump position, saying that, you know, he's an employee. He's the owner. He can live there. Today the council president said she agreed and doesn't believe that Trump is violating the agreement by living there.

But it may not be over. Lawyers representing two different groups expressed concern that the historic property was in danger now of becoming, in their words, a multifamily dwelling. And that's not the only concern. Here's Philip Johnston. He's an attorney representing a group of neighbors who he say want to ensure that Palm Beach remains, in his words, a genteel community.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PHILIP JOHNSTON: We feel that this issue threatens to make Mar-a-Lago into a permanent beacon for his more rabid, lawless supporters.

KELLY: Does somebody like Philip Johnston speak for a lot of people in Palm Beach?

ALLEN: It's hard to know how many. He has detractors and supporters here. The main feeling is that people are just glad that, since he's no longer president, the main thoroughfare along that area of the island will be open again. It won't be closed when he's there. They're glad to get their island back.

KELLY: That is NPR's Greg Allen reporting from Miami.

Thank you, Greg.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.