By Team

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/CNN) – The decision as to whether former President Donald Trump will be able to reside at his private club Mar-a-Lago in the Town of Palm Beach is no decision at this point.

During a town council meeting on Tuesday, attorneys defended Trump’s right to live at the club he owns and manages.

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The issue for the town was Trump’s promise, long ago, not to call Mar-a-Lago home. Trump bought the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1985 and turned it into a members-only club in 1993.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

To transform the private residence into a revenue-generating business, he had to agree to certain limitations, based on guidelines presented as deal-breakers from Palm Beach. That deal stipulated that members could not live at the club for more than 21 days a year. Neighbors of the former President complained to the town that Trump has breached the agreement he signed.

Town attorney John “Skip” Randolph advised the council that the key issue was not the agreement. Rather, he said, the issue is whether Trump is a member or an employee of the club.

Town zoning allows for a “bona fide employee of the club” to live at the clubs that they work at or own.

Trump’s longtime West Palm Beach attorney John Marion presented documentation to the council, signed by Trump on January 25, 2021, to verify that Trump was again president of Mar-a-Lago.

“There is no prohibition in there about the owner using the owner’s suite,” Marion said. “This guy (Trump), as he wanders the property, is like the mayor of Mar-a-Lago, if you will.”

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“He’s always present, he owns the property and enjoys it like his home,” Marion added. “There’s no reason in the world that President Trump shouldn’t be able to reside at the club he owns.”

Trump’s attorney went on to list functions that the former President carries out while living and working at the club, saying he “evaluates the performance of employees” and attends “events held at the club and welcomes/thanks those attending.”

President Donald Trump thanks members of the US military via video teleconference on Thanksgiving day, November 23, 2017 from his residence in Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

An attorney for one of Trump’s neighbors and the first to prompt the town to examine the issue so that they could return to a “peaceful life,” Roger Stambaugh, told the council, “My clients urge the town council to uphold the use agreement created with Mar-a-Lago in 1993.”

The council is expected to revisit the issue in the spring.

Many once-loyal members of Mar-a-Lago are leaving because they no longer want to have any connection to Trump, according to the author of the definitive book about the resort.

“It’s a very dispirited place,” Laurence Leamer, historian and author of “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace,” told MSNBC last month. He said members are “not concerned about politics and they said the food is no good.”

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