Can Trump Live At Mar-A-Lago?
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It appears that after President Trump leaves the White House, he's planning to live at Mar-A-Lago, the private club he owns in Palm Beach, Fla. There are reports his apartment there is under renovation, and first lady Melania Trump recently toured a school in the area that their son, Barron, might attend. But there could be a hitch. NPR's Greg Allen reports when he created the club, Trump signed an agreement that might keep him from living there.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Palm Beach isn't just a pleasant resort; it's one of the wealthiest places in America. And wealthy people don't like being inconvenienced. For many there, hosting a president was a big inconvenience.
JEFF GREENE: Well, we're certainly welcoming the end of the disruption that it's caused to our community.
ALLEN: That's Jeff Greene, a developer and one of the billionaires with homes in Palm Beach. He lives just a few doors from Mar-A-Lago and is a club member.
GREENE: This is a beautiful town. But because of this Trump presidency, we've had to endure a road closure down the middle of our community every time he comes to town.
ALLEN: A lawyer representing one of Trump's neighbors recently sent a letter to town officials citing other concerns, including a security barrier that uses microwaves that they claim causes health issues. The letter also cites a significant legal point, an agreement signed by Trump that prevents anyone from calling Mar-A-Lago home.
JACK MCDONALD: Well, it was intended to be a club. It wasn't intended to be a residence any longer.
ALLEN: Jack McDonald served Palm Beach as mayor and member of the town council for 16 years. When Trump, in the 1990s, proposed converting the palatial estate into a private club, the town agreed with a stipulation. McDonald says no one can stay in any of the club's guest suites more than three nonconsecutive weeks every year.
MCDONALD: The council did not want it to become a residence for anyone.
ALLEN: The letter, recently sent to town officials, said Trump had already violated the agreement by staying there longer than the 21-day annual maximum. McDonald doubts town officials have monitored the president's stays, but moving in and making Mar-A-Lago his legal residence, he says, will likely force the town to act.
MCDONALD: The town would have to decide - you know, how are we going to enforce it? Is it a code violation? Is it a violation of the declaration of use?
ALLEN: Palm Beach has a history of disputes with Trump. They've involved a flagpole taller than allowed by the town code, plans for a dock that was rejected and a helipad. It was built but, after he leaves office, is supposed to be removed. The town's current mayor recently told the Palm Beach Post officials will be seeking legal advice on how to deal with Trump's move to Mar-A-Lago. Neighbor Jeff Greene says he has no problem with the president living there, but he knows others in town feel differently.
GREENE: We're in a very divisive time now. And a lot of people are - they don't like his politics. They don't like his personality. They don't like the way he treats people. They want to pay him back.
ALLEN: Trump does have friends in Palm Beach, though, and few more outspoken than Toni Holt Kramer. She's one of the founders of the Trumpettes, a group of Trump supporters, many with homes in Palm Beach.
TONI HOLT KRAMER: We're putting together a petition with Palm Beach residents who are supporting and welcoming the president and his return to his home.
ALLEN: The Trump Organization released a statement recently, asserting there's no document or agreement in place that prohibits President Trump from using Mar-A-Lago as his residence. A legal issue may be whether Trump is exempted from the agreement because he's not a member but owns the private club. But former Mayor Jack McDonald says one thing that doesn't matter is his status as a former president.
MCDONALD: This is a town of former presidents. There just haven't been presidents of the United States. They've been presidents of this or that. Being president of the United States isn't going to carry any more weight than if he had been president of Nabisco or something.
ALLEN: The Trump family owns other properties near Mar-A-Lago. So if the club doesn't work out, he can always move in with the relatives.
Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.
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