President Trump, who is set to leave the White House and become a private citizen on January 20, is reportedly planning to settle down at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida
Neighbors near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate don’t want him to relocate there after he leaves the White House next month because doing so violates a promise he made not to turn his private club into a permanent residence, it has been claimed.
An attorney representing the DeMoss family, which made its fortune selling life insurance and has since become involved in evangelical philanthropy, sent a letter to the town of Palm Beach and the US Secret Service.
The letter urged the town to inform Trump that he would not be allowed to move to Mar-a-Lago full time so as to ‘avoid an embarrassing situation’ whereby a man who was once president would be forced out at a later date, The Washington Post reported.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the White House, the Mar-a-Lago club, and the town of Palm Beach for comment.
The dispute revolves around a ‘use agreement’ that Trump signed in the early 1990s when he converted Mar-a-Lago from a private residence into a social club.
Trump bought Mar-a-Lago, a 118-room mansion built in the 1920s, for $7million in 1985. In 1995, he converted the home into a private club.
The decision to convert the mansion into a club came at a time when Trump was having financial problems and needed to generate revenue.
The move appeared to work. In 2019, Mar-a-Lago brought in $21.4million in revenue, a slight drop from the $22.7million haul that was reported in2 018.
Trump is reportedly planning on making his Mar-a-Lago estate his permanent residence. From left to right: Japanese First Lady Akie Abe; Japanese Prime MInister Shinzo Abe; President Trump; and First Lady Melania Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2018
The neighbor directly to the north of Mar-a-Lago, Nancy Demoss at 185 Woodbridge Road, sent a letter to the town of Palm Beach asking it to deny Trump permission to move into Mar-a-Lago full time
The home near Mar-a-Lago was purchased by Arthur DeMoss (far left) and his wife, Nancy S. Demoss (right). The late Arthur DeMoss made his fortune in selling life insurance. His widow has lived in the property ever since. The couple’s daughter, Nancy Wolgemuth, is pictured above
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is seen left alongside her husband, Robert Wolgemuth. The DeMoss family runs a philanthropic organization dedicated to evangelical causes
In 2017, the club generated $25.1million in revenue. This year’s figures are likely to be far lower, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club’s members, who have to pay a $200,000 initiation fee, include real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, and other millionaire executives. Before Trump became president, members had to pay $100,000 to join.
Club members are also charged an annual membership fee of $14,000 as well as an annual food minimum of $2,000.
Mar-a-Lago also rents out its facilities and dining areas for special events.
Those who join get access to dining areas, the on-site spa, a pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, croquet lawns, and privileges at other Trump-owned properties including golf clubs.
The town of Palm Beach insisted that Trump, who at the time was a real estate developer on shaky financial ground, sign the agreement and pledge not to convert Mar-a-Lago into a residential hotel.
The 1993 document set ground rules for the newly converted club. Club members who wished to spend the night at Mar-a-Lago could do so for no more than seven days at a time for three nonconsecutive weeks.
Trump was also required to make sure that at least half of Mar-a-Lago members live or work in Palm Beach. The club was also not allowed to have more than 500 members.
As part of the agreement, Trump also promised not to set up permanent residence there.
Trump has had a history of lawsuits and fights with the town of Palm Beach over its zoning restrictions. Last year, the town denied Trump permission to build a dock at Mar-a-Lago
But Trump has had a history of thumbing his nose at the town’s zoning laws.
He sued Palm Beach after the town blocked his attempt to subdivide the Mar-a-Lago property, which is considered a historic landmark, into several housing units.
Trump also sued Palm Beach for $75million after claiming that the nearby Palm Beach International Airport, which lies just north of Mar-a-Lago, was causing air and noise pollution. That lawsuit was eventually settled.
Trump also tried to skate around restrictions put in place by the town that limited media photography, filmmaking, and traffic going into and out of the club.
After Trump became president, he made at least 30 trips to Mar-a-Lago spending some 130 days there, which technically violates the 1993 agreement since it exceeds the 21-day limit that the guest suites could be used.
The frequent visits upset locals who had to deal with security-related road closures and traffic.
Trump also convinced the town council to approve the construction of a helipad, which is not permitted in Palm Beach since residents do not want to encourage the use of noise-producing helicopters.
Once Trump is out of office, he will not be permitted to make use of the helipad, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Another perk that Trump has enjoyed as president these past four years was getting the Federal Aviation Administration to close the airspace near Mar-a-Lago.
During Trump’s tenure in office, aircraft were not permitted to fly within a 30-mile radius of the club, forcing planes to land on an alternate runway at the nearby airport.
The Atlantic Ocean is seen adjacent to President Donald Trump’s beach front Mar-a-Lago resort in his January 2018 file photo. Trump bought Mar-a-Lago, a 118-room mansion built in the 1920s, for $7million in 1985. In 1995, he converted the home into a private club
If the restriction is lifted, planes will resume flying over Mar-a-Lago as often as every 10 to 15 minutes – making it so loud that holding a conversation could be challenging.
Last year, Trump officially changed his legal address from Trump Tower in New York City to Mar-a-Lago.
‘There’s absolutely no legal theory under which he can use that property as both a residence and a club,’ said Palm Beach resident Glenn Zeitz, an attorney by trade who is also part of the local resistance to a post-presidency move by Trump to the area.
‘Basically he’s playing a dead hand. He’s not going to intimidate or bluff people because we’re going to be there.’
The DeMoss family has made its distaste for Trump known.
In 2016, Mark DeMoss, the son of the late patriarch and insurance magnate Arthur DeMoss, resigned from the board of trustees at Liberty University after its then-head, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed Trump for president.
Mark’s sister, Elizabeth DeMoss, publicly opposed Trump’s plan to build a dock at Mar-a-Lago even though Trump pledged that he would not seek to build one as part of the 1993 use agreement.
In 2018, the president asked the town to waive the ban by claiming that the dock was needed for security reasons.
Mar-a-Lago had asked that it be allowed to install a 72ft, T-shaped dock that would accommodate up to four boats to be used for recreation and to allow law enforcement to better patrolt he property.
But local residents, including the DeMoss family, opposed, claiming that it would increase noise and boat traffic in the area.
Last year, the town denied Trump’s request for permission to build the dock.
Reginald Stambaugh, a real estate attorney who has represented the DeMoss family, said that whether or not Trump will be allowed to stay at Mar-a-Lago on a permanent basis depends on whether the town will enforce its laws.
If Trump makes Mar-a-Lago his home, he would then have to shut down the club, according to Stambaugh.
‘One prevalent issue remains lingering, whether President Trump still considers Mar-a-Lago Club his residence,’ Stambaugh told The Washington Post in May.
‘He still can’t have it both ways. It’s either a club or a residence – not both.
‘Florida’s voting laws apply to citizen Trump. If he resides there, he will have to close the club.’