Former president Donald Trump has been living at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida since leaving office in January.
But Mr Trump’s residence at the resort could be a violation of a 1993 agreement he made with the town of Palm Beach.
The council will meet soon, and the subject could come up.
What is the 1993 agreement?
Mar-a-Lago was once a single residence.
But when Mr Trump turned it into a 500-member private club in 1993, he agreed with the town of Palm Beach that his stays there would be limited to just seven consecutive days.
That was in line with club rules — there was a $263,000 initiation and an annual $23,692 fee, as well as an additional charge where members can stay in a suite for up to seven consecutive days and no more than 21 days a year.
What’s the Mar-a-Lago backstory?
Mr Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago for $US10 million in 1985 from the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the owner of General Foods.
The 126-room mansion deteriorated after her death in 1973, when she left it to the US government as a possible presidential vacation home. The government gave it back in 1981.
After Mr Trump bought it, he spent millions upgrading the property while living there part-time.
“He must be given credit for not messing up Mar-a-Lago,” said Laurence Leamer, a Palm Beach resident and author of the 2019 book Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace.
“Marjorie Merriweather Post built it in the ’20s and it is just one of the greatest mansions in the country,” he said.
By the early 1990s, Trump was in financial distress. Real estate prices dropped and several of his businesses flopped, including a New Jersey casino.
He told the town he could no longer afford the $US3 million annual upkeep and it was unfair that he shouldered the costs alone.
He proposed subdividing the property and building mansions. The town rejected the proposal, so the idea of the private estate was born.
Back to the upcoming council meeting…
The next town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
While we don’t know exactly what’s on the agenda, Palm Beach town manager Kirk Blouin has previously indicated the matter could be discussed at the meeting.
Mr Blouin also said the council was examining its options.
Last month, the town received a letter from attorney Reginald Stambaugh who represents a Mar-a-Lago neighbour demanding the town enforce the agreement’s residency clause.
It’s something the town rarely, if ever, did when Mr Trump was president or before.
The unnamed neighbour believes Mr Trump’s residency will decrease property values, according to the letter.
The attorney did not return a call or email Thursday asking whether he has received a response.
Some neighbours want him out, but Trump has a powerful ally
The former president and first lady Melania Trump changed their residency from New York City to Mar-a-Lago in 2019.
But even before he became president, Mr Trump clashed frequently with the town and its mostly staid residents over the club’s operation.
Neighbours complained about noise, traffic and a car-lot-sized US flag and its 24-metre pole Mr Trump erected in 2006 without the proper permits.
The two sides eventually settled: Mr Trump got a shorter pole and his foundation gave $US100,000 to veteran charities. Mr Trump then put the pole on a mound so it would still rise to 24 metres.
But more recently, as The Washington Post reports, an attorney for the town of Palm Beach has recommended the council let Trump live at Mar-a-Lago.
In a memo, attorney John Randolph reportedly argued the former president should be allowed to use the estate as his residence even though his attorney at the time of the 1993 agreement promised the council Mr Trump would not live there.
So could Donald Trump be evicted from Mar-a-Lago?
His newly founded Office of the Former President forwarded emailed questions about the matter to the Trump Organization, the family’s business entity, which did not respond.
Last month, it issued a statement saying, “There is no document or agreement in place that prohibits President Trump from using Mar-A-Lago as his residence”.
Trump owns two other homes near Mar-a-Lago.
Mr Leamer said he doesn’t expect the town to challenge Mr Trump if he decides to live there.
He said Mr Trump likes mingling with the club’s members and guests and have them “stroke his ego,” something he would not get living elsewhere.
“He goes through his days and people tell him he’s fantastic, he’s great, he’s unbelievable — that’s what he wants,” Mr Leamer said.
The length of Mr Trump’s stays at Mar-a-Lago before his presidency are unknown, but Mr Leamer said they often exceeded seven consecutive days and 21 days a year.
During his presidency, Mr Trump spent more than 21 days a year there, including visits of about two weeks during the Christmas holidays.
“People say he doesn’t have the legal right to have legal residence [at Mar-a-Lago] — has the legal right ever been an issue for him?” Mr Leamer said.
The ABC has contacted councillors for comment.
— to www.abc.net.au