Western Boynton, Delray residents turn to officials to stop development plan

More than 400 residents attended a community meeting to oppose a GL Homes plan to allow more development in the Agricultural Reserve.

Nearly 500 people have downloaded a form letter from the web site of the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations urging opposition to possible rule changes that would allow more development to take place in Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming zone located west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.

The letters, many of which have already been emailed to county commissioners, is the second wave of an assault the politically powerful coalition plans to make against the proposed rule changes, which it argues would lead to over-development in an area where building has been limited to accommodate agriculture. COBWRA held a meeting on the topic on June 7, drawing 400 people despite heavy rain and long car lines.

Ag Reserve rules require builders to preserve 60 acres there for every 40 they wish to develop in the reserve. Developers have not been allowed to preserve land outside of the Ag Reserve so they can build within it.

GL Homes has floated a plan to change those rules so it can preserve land it owns in The Acreage/Loxahatchee area and build more on land it owns further south in the Ag Reserve.

Residents in The Acreage/Loxahatchee area, pleased by the prospect of less development in their midst, like the idea. But many south county residents fear the rule changes will mean over-development, jammed roads and lower property values for them.

COBWRA posted the form letter to its web site earlier this week, and, by noon on Friday, 475 people had downloaded it, according to figures provided by the group.

GL is not expected to formally request Ag Reserve rule changes until later this year, but they have already become a focal point of discussion in the ongoing battle over development in the county.

Opponents to West Boynton development come to COBWRA meeting

More than 400 residents attended a community meeting Wednesday night to oppose a GL Homes plan to allow more development in the Agricultural Reserve.

More than 400 people attended a meeting of the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations Wednesday night to note their opposition to a GL Homes plan that would allow more development in the Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming zone located west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.

Palm Beach County rules have restricted development in the Ag Reserve by requiring builders to set aside 60 acres for every 40 acres they want to develop. Land set aside for preservation must be in the Ag Reserve.

GL Homes, however, wants to change that rule. After getting approval to build 3,900 homes on 4,900 acres it owns in the Loxahatchee area, the developer has floated a plan to preserve that acreage in exchange for permission to build on land it owns in the Ag Reserve.

Homes in the Ag Reserve would likely fetch far more than homes in the Loxahatchee area, but GL officials  have said their new plan isn’t driven solely by a desire to make more money. GL has built many of the high-end developments in the Ag Reserve, and its officials have said they want to continue building in an area where it has established a footprint and where services like roads and drainage are already in place.

Loxahatchee and Acreage-area residents are pleased with the plan, seeing it as a move away from what they fear is over-development in their area.

COBWRA, however, has emerged as a powerful opponent, as demonstrated by its ability pack a meeting room in the GL Homes-built Valencia Reserve residential development on a rainy night.

Those in attendance ripped the plan, which they said would open up the Ag Reserve for additional development.

“For me, for COBWRA, this GL scheme is a defining moment,” COBWRA President Myrna Rosoff said.

GL officials have said they expect to formally present the plan to the county late this year.

County to consider Wawa application amid strong opposition

Palm Beach County commissioners on Thursday will consider an application to allow a Wawa gas station/eatery to be built at Hypoluxo Road and High Ridge Road.

The gas station project has generated intense opposition from some in the area. Backup material provided to commissioners notes that county staff members received 648 calls opposing the project and 66 in favor of it.

Supporters have touted Wawa’s reputation and community involvement. Opponents have said they fear the station will increase traffic, crime and pollution.

The Palm Beach County Zoning Commission voted in favor of the project at its meeting on September 1.

The gas station project is on the zoning agenda county commissioners will take up at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on the sixth floor of the Weisman Governmental Center located at 301 N. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach.

Residents opposed to a proposed gas station on a lot at High Ridge and Hypoluxo hold signs expressing their opposition Monday, April 11, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Residents opposed to a proposed gas station on a lot at High Ridge and Hypoluxo hold signs expressing their opposition Monday, April 11, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Request on private school expansion postponed

Florida Education Properties has postponed its request to have the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission consider its expansion plans at a private school site at Hypoluxo Road and Lyons Road.

The commission was set to take up the request on Thursday, but the item was pulled from the agenda at Florida Education Properties’ request.

A 350-student school has already been approved for the site, but Florida Education Properties wants permission to boost the number of students to 1,200.

The request has drawn opposition from those who argue a bigger school will generate too much traffic.

COBWRA – the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations – has announced its opposition to the request. County staff members have recommended that zoning commissioners deny the request, which is expected to be discussed when the Zoning Commission meets on September 1.