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 hold public hearing on Indian Trails Grove project

Palm Beach County is holding a public hearing Thursday on GL Homes’ Indian Trails Groves project west of The Acreage.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on the sixth floor of the Weisman Governmental Center located at 301 N. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach.

The 3,900-home project got support last week from the board of supervisors of the Indian Trail Improvement District, which provides water, drainage and road services in the area. Supervisors voted to send a conditional letter of support for the project to county commissioners, who themselves have already voted in favor of preliminary approval.

Backers of the project say it will provide more housing to a growing county and commercial development to an area in need of it.

Opponents, meanwhile, argue that the project will threaten the environment, reduce open space and snarl traffic.

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McKinlay asks IG to look into Minto support for Westlake

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has asked the county’s inspector general to look into the support Minto Communities has pledged to the county’s newest city, Westlake.

Westlake’s interim city manager, Ken Cassel, told council members on Monday that Minto Communities will cover any budget shortfall for the next five years.

Minto is the largest landowner in Westlake, and, as such, represents nearly all of the new city’s tax base. The developer plans to build at least 4,500 homes in the area.

McKinlay, whose district represents Westlake, has asked Gov. Rick Scott to investigate the circumstances of the city’s incorporation, which some view as a Minto-inspired move that will allow the builder to go beyond the development limits it had agreed to two years ago with the county.

McKinlay wrote Inspector General John Carey on Wednesday, inquiring about “the legality of a landowner funding the same council that will ultimately decide the landowner’s permits, land use and quasi-judicial zoning issues.”

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

With one vote, Massey re-elected president of Seminole Improvement District

Scott Massey was re-elected president of the Seminole Improvement District on Monday.

Five residents of the area served by the district recently voted to incorporate the area into Palm Beach County’s newest city, Westlake. But the district continues to provide water and road maintenance services.

Minto's Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Minto’s Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Massey was re-elected with the only vote that counted — that of John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, the largest landowner in the district.

District rules allow Carter to cast proxy votes based on majority landownership, and he cast those votes for Massey.